When you’re selling a house, you have about six seconds to make a positive impression on potential buyers. You have less time than it took for you to get creamer out of the fridge this morning. That means you can’t rely on a stunning interior to make up for a poorly manicured lawn, or a prim bed of begonias to distract attention from peeling paint. Instead, prepping a home for sale requires attending to all maintenance and decor details to create an attractive, cohesive presentation.
This process of converting a lived-in home into a show-worthy house is called home staging. Not to be confused with redecorating, home staging transforms the highly personalized elements of a house into an appealing blank canvas that buyers will go to sleep thinking about.
A seller has to try to be objective by looking at their home as a product that someone would purchase. You have only one chance to get it right, so present your home in the beginning in the best possible way you can.
The home staging process can sound daunting when you’re washing dishes in the same kitchen you’ve spent every morning for the last seven years in, or when you look in the backyard to see the pieces of a once-was tree house crumbling out of the oak tree.
But, it’s true – 95 percent of homes that are staged by professional home stagers sell, on average, in 35 days or less and for near the asking price – versus 140 days for non-staged homes, according to a study by the Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP), a national staging trade organization (Yes. It’s totally a thing.)
Staged homes also happen to look fabulous in photographs.
Luckily, professional stagers from across the globe have shared what it takes. They’ve offered their secrets and golden tickets to getting your house sold quickly.
- Focus on your curb appeal. You want all of the families and couples driving by to scope out Saturday’s Open House Tour to fall in love with your home from the street. Power-wash the exterior and maybe add a coat of fresh paint to the walls or door. Rise up and put those $15 Target ceramic pots you bought two years ago to good use! Mow the grass for the third time this month (because it’s Florida.) Give the buyers a reason to want to come further than your mailbox.
- Declutter. Think of it like Spring Cleaning boot camp. You want to leave room for someone else to make the home theirs in their mind. This means taking away larger, clunky pieces of extra furniture like the La-Z-Boy in the living room or the extra dresser in the bedroom. You might even do well to minimize the number of hanging clothes you have in your closet. If you think you’ve decluttered enough, do it again with what’s left. But don’t let this be nerve wracking. The end goal is a big move, so getting ahead on packing some of your lesser-used things up is only going to help in the long run. Or, you can always donate unneeded things to a nonprofit charity. (PS: Many charities will pick up larger donations for free. Find out more about it at http://bit.ly/2wX5Jzn.)
*NOTE This does NOT mean store all of your “extras” in closets or on higher, hidden shelves. Assume buyers will be peaking in. They’re trying to make sure they have room for all of their junk, too.
- Clean, Clean, Clean. You went through the house and decluttered. That’s the biggest part. The more stuff you get rid of or pack up, the more room your house will have and the less YOU will have to organize and clean to have the home show-ready. Wash baseboards and clean shower tile grout. Organize your bookshelves like they’re going to be featured in HGTV magazine. Clean every inch of your house. In doing this, you’ll also see if little repairs need to be taken care of now that may be noticed. You may need to re-caulk the tub seal or add wood putty to a door frame that you didn’t realize. If your schedule won’t allow this kind of deep cleaning more than once, consider having a professional cleaning service come in regularly while the house is on the market to ensure it stays show-ready.
- Get Pets Out Of The House For Showings. We can’t count on Roscoe to lick offers out of buyers. We love them, and sure a wagging tail is a nice addition to any get together, but you’re trying to sell a product. That’s much easier done without loud barking or small hairs covering the floor you’ve vacuumed twice today. Keep in mind you have no idea who will come through your door interested in buying your house. Some buyers may not like animals, or could be allergic. It’s best to not alienate the people you are trying to sell to.
- Take It Personally. As soon as you decide to make the commitment to sell your home, you need to think of it as a product; one that you want to sell fast and for top dollar. Don’t think the house will sell itself. The real estate market is a game. You need to make your home the most appealing product on the block. Don’t take buyers’ remarks personally. Instead, think of it as free advice on how to make your product live up to its highest potential. Emotionally detach yourself, and really focus in on how you’ll be able to make your next house a new home.
- Don’t misuse spaces: Bedrooms should be bedrooms, not closets or catch-all rooms. Patios should be staged as relaxing outdoor spaces, not left empty or as toy storage. Each space and room in your house should reflect what it was intended for to make it easier for the buyer to picture living there. It’s up to them to decide if the spare bedroom would make a really cool cat-playground, not you.
- Go Overboard With Heavy Fragrances. You’ve cleaned, you’ve decluttered, you’ve planted some Gerber daisies that, with luck will stay perky and alive until the home has sold, don’t mess it all up now. We don’t want your Tampa home smelling like a California cherry orchard, or worse, a New Jersey Macy’s perfume counter. Most stagers even steer away from heavily scented candles. Smells seem like they’re hiding something, and they also trigger emotions. You can’t control a buyer’s reaction to smelling too much sugared cranberry.
- Display Collections. It’s time. Bubble wrap and store your vintage action figurines, and take the signed jerseys off of the wall. You don’t want to have your personalized (though awesome) collections taking up the counter space a buyer wants to turn into a herb garden. Experts have said repeatedly that having some sort of personal collection out can highlight the differences between the buyer’s and seller’s taste. All it takes is one Chewbacca figurine to start a thought-trail of “is this really the house for me?”
Getting ready to sell your house should be exciting and fun, not scary. It’s served you and your family well for years, and it’s time to focus on the new memories you will make in this next chapter. Jan Hungate has served the South Shore area for years as one of the top agents and has built her expert team on helping homeowners. The REAL Team has helped people change their lives by selling over 750 homes in the area. We care about you, your family, and the big process of moving. If you’re looking to take the next step of selling your home, call Jan today at 813-786-7010.