When real estate agents talk about “staging your home”, they are referring to a method of decorating that is designed to showcase the home’s best assets, impress buyers and sell quickly for the highest possible price. Staging your house is meant to enhance the key features of the home and make it as attractive as possible for the widest range of potential buyers as possible. Like ‘curb appeal’ the use of the term ‘staging your home’ comes from the United States where both the average real estate agent and seller seem to have a more commercial and pro active approach than in Europe. Although staging is of course optional it can be very beneficial and lucrative for the seller who does not want to settle on a low price or long marketing periods.
To understand how staging works we begin by dividing a house into the structure itself; the placing of the walls, floors, windows and doors, the lay-out and height on one hand and on the other hand the interior; the furniture, fixtures, carpets, pavements and so on. A buyer will first try to determine whether the structure matches with the wishlist and if that indeed is the case continue with a visit to see the property for real to check whether is could be the place to full fill their dreams and improve their lifestyle. The interior at that point should leave as much space as possible to enhance the structure of the house, which is what the buyers seemed to like in the first place. Archways, bay windows, wooden floors or antique stone fire places, the key features should be clearly visible at all times. As much light as possible should flow in, add supplemental lighting when necessary,and the interior should not distract in anyway. To make this happen the available tricks are plentiful.
First of all: declutter! Objects lying around all over the place distract the buyers view and thoughts and make it appear as if the house lacks storage space. They also might not like like certain things which can range from your pets chewed up toy, messy bathrooms with too many bottles and products to laundry all over the pantry which will leave them with a negative view of the house. (As buyers like to inspect closet space that might not be the best hiding space for your stuff.)
Depersonalize is a good second action you can take. The people interested in your property need to be able to envision themselves living there. Remove all personal items, photographs, children’s toys, clothing, and empty out the bathrooms and bedrooms.
If possible keep colors as neutral and warm as can be, peoples tastes in colors are very specific and highly personal. If you have a wildly colorful wall it might even be a good idea to do a small paint job with a more quiet color. Remove crazy wallpaper and paint the walls instead.
Make sure your home smells nice! Take out the trash, give up smoking inside, remove the smelly items your pet owns, and instead of using cheap spray go the extra mile to back something nice preferably with vanilla or cinnamon.
Define all rooms by making sure each one has a clear single purpose which also counts for the space within each room. This will enable buyers to see how to maximize the home’s square footage and show them every square inch is available for use.
Pay attention to the furniture, make sure it is the right size for the room and do not clutter a room with too much furniture. Furniture which is too large makes a space feel cramped while furniture which is too small makes a room feel cold. Arrange the furniture in a way that makes the house feel spacious yet homey. If you have to buy or borrow some pieces to make it all look new and inviting.
No-one likes dirty, worn or stained floors, while wooden floors add warmth, charm and a feeling of luxury. Do inspect your floors, clean when necessary, replace with wood or natural stone if you can. Especially for bathrooms with a relatively small surface this could be the winning move.
Repair anything damaged or broken because potential buyers don’t want to see work that needs to be done upon moving into the home. For every problem they see, they will deduct its cost from their offering price. Especially in the current market with many properties for sale if buyers see too many problems they might just skip you property altogether.
Just before a showing, make sure that your staging efforts go the full mile with a few last-minute touches that will make the home seem warm and inviting. You could for example include fresh flowers, let fresh air into the house for at least ten minutes beforehand so it isn’t stuffy, place fresh fruit and vegetables in the kitchen, and putting new, plush, nicely folded towels in the bathrooms.
Staging helps sell those dreams and creates a more emotional purchase that can generate more money for the seller. However, even if you have plenty of cash, don’t put too much money into the staging process. You want to emphasize the home’s best features, but keep in mind that what sells the home and what will make the home usable for the buyer are not necessarily the same thing.