The Best Ways to Spend Your Staging Dollars

As a Home Stager I am very sensitive to how much (or little) my clients should spend when they are getting their home ready to sell. No one likes to spend money on a house they will be leaving but unless your home doesn’t need to be staged, like I wrote about here, chances are you need to spend something in order to show your home at it’s absolute best.

Although every home is unique and I advise each client to spend money based on their particular situation, the following three fixes will pay you back 100% (or more) and in my opinion are the best ways to spend your staging dollars.

#1. Curb Appeal. 

We all know how important first impressions are when it comes to selling your home. Spending a few dollars to freshen up your curb appeal will definitely pay off. The bushes should be trimmed, the lawn should be mowed and the front gardens should look well kept. Investing in fresh mulch, healthy looking plants and maybe a few potted flowers at the entrance will start buyers off with a positive impression of your home. Also, be sure your walk way is clear and your front door sparkling clean or freshly painted.

#2. Paint

Decor Pad.com

The power of paint to freshen up or even transform your home can not be under estimated. I think paint is one of the biggest bang for your bucks when it comes to Staging. Most buyers want a move in ready home these days and freshly painted walls not only look better but give the impression of a well cared for home. Fresh paint is especially important if you currently have dark walls or very taste specific colors in your home. Try one of the new on trend neutral colors like warm gray, gray green or, gray green blue like in the photo above. A note of caution. A poorly done DIY paint job is worse than not painting at all, so if your painting skills aren’t near perfect, then hire a professional. A sloppy paint job can actually lower the value of your home.

#3. Renting a storage locker or POD.

Craig J. Sorensen

photo: Craig J. Sorensen

 Let’s fact it, just about every house has too much “stuff” in it. Too many toys, too many clothes, too many expired spices, too many books, too much clutter period! When you list your home for sale it is the perfect time to take charge and get rid of it. For those that absolutely can’t bare to part with all that stuff, moving it to the basement or garage is NOT the answer. You need to remove it from the house completely. Buyers want to see your entire home and any space with clutter or stacked boxes sends a subtle message to buyers that the house doesn’t have enough storage. Whatever you spend on storage rental is well worth it to make your home look uncluttered, larger…and most important to get it sold!

How about you, what fixes do you think are most important when selling your home?

If you would like to schedule a staging consult to get some help deciding the best ways to spend your staging dollars give me a call.

When NOT to Stage Your Home

 

Yes, I know,  how shocking that a Stager would actually suggest there are times when you can skip the expense and time of Staging your home in order to sell. It’s not very common but here are the three times you get a free pass.

#1. Your Home or Location is so incredible, unique or sought out that your home will sell itself.

 

If you have prime Ocean front property or your home was a significant architectural masterpiece of say Frank Lloyd Wright then in all likely hood you can skip staging. There will be buyers for your home no matter what the inside looks like. You will know if this scenario applies to your home if complete strangers often leave notes in your mail box pleading, “if you EVER decide to sell please call me”.

 

#2. You have delayed routine maintenance for so long that no amount of Staging will help your home sell.

If a professional inspection of your home would scare away even the handiest of potential buyers then skip the Staging.  Sadly, I often come across this situation when an elderly couple has owned the house for years but eventually ran out money to keep making basic repairs. They go into assisted living and their children (who often times live out of state) decide to sell. Bottom line, buyers are not dumb and putting lipstick on a pig (so to speak) will not help sell this type of home. My advice? Price it rock bottom to appeal to an investor or builder who will either knock it down and build new or make the necessary repairs and flip it.

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#3. You insist on overpricing your home regardless of what your Realtor has told you it’s worth.

I see this less now than I did a few years ago but every now and again a buyer will insist they list their home WAY above what the market will bear. Again, let me stress, buyers are not dumb. No amount of Staging will sell a house that is over priced.

So if one of these three situations applies to you…go right ahead and list your home as is, No Staging Required.

For everyone else…If  you would like any help Staging your home to sell…please give me a call at 617-965-3342.

How about you…. Can you think of any additional situations that I might not have thought of when you don’t need to Stage?

Don’t Make This Mistake When You List Your Home For Sale

When it comes time to sell your home, a common mistake many homeowners make is that they Decorate their home to sell rather than Stage their home to sell. When you decorate your home it is all about you, the homeowner. As lovely as it may be, it is still your taste and your design style. This point was recently made very clear to me when a homeowner turned down my offer to help stage her home because she said it had been professional decorated and was in “show ready” condition. Professionally decorated it was…in a formal French Country style that would appeal to any buyer who also liked formal French Country and had the furniture and accessories to match. Sadly, that professionally decorated home is still on the market 8 months later; even after two price reductions.

French Country by Charles Faudree

 

When you Stage your home, it is all about the Buyer, and since you don’t know who your Buyer is, it is important to appeal to ALL Buyers and ALL tastes. Maybe you love French Country but maybe your future buyer loves Contemporary, or Early American, or Eclectic or Shabby Chic….you just don’t know. This is why neutral paint colors on the walls, no distracting collectibles, photos, or taste specific decor is the only way to go. Buyers need to imagine their furniture, their photos and their taste specific decor in your home.

 

staged home

 

Once staged, you may think your home lacks character and personality…that is exactly the point. Remember, the best way to Stage your home for sale, is to undecorate your home. If you do, it will appeal to more potential buyers and get you a quicker and better dollar offer. Then you are free to move on and decorate to your heart’s content in your new home.

 

If you would like help Staging your home for sale or undecorating your home, give me a call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t make these 3 mistakes when Staging your own home

Most sellers today realize the imporatance of preparing their home for the market or what we call Staging. I see a lot of homes for sale and more often than not, I  see three mistakes that sellers continue to make.

 

1. Assuming buyers won’t notice something.

Sloppy D.I.Y. paint jobs, a sticking basement door, a small stain on the carpet, a broken fence post, etc. You may have lived with it for years and think it is just a minor inconvenience but Buyers have laser vision when it comes to spotting any imperfection with your home. Address the problem before you list your home and Buyers will have less downward negotiating power if everything is perfect.

 

2. Not checking out the competition.

 

Buyers are not only looking at your home, but the one for sale down the street, the one around the corner and the dozens of others around town that are in the same price range. If you don’t know what buyers are seeing, how do you know how to make your home stand out and look the best? Let’s face it, the Real Estate market is not that much different than a beauty contest. The “prettiest” house gets the Buyer. Check out some competing Open Houses and make note of what those homes have that might appeal to buyers over your home. Challenge yourself to make your home look just a little better. If the other homes are not well staged and yours is, then lucky you, the competition is just helping you sell yours.

 

3. Not being objective.

When it comes to our own home it is very challeging to be objective. We think our home is lovely and perfectly staged and yet no offers come in. The trick I like to use to help with this problem is to stand in the doorway and take a photo of the room.  Do this for every room in your house. Upload them to your computer and then look at them as critically as possible. Notice where your eye goes;  does the room look like there is too much furniture? Does it appear cluttered? Too dark? Too busy?  Graphic wallpaper, bright colors, and busy fabrics have a tenancy to be magnified when seen online which is why professional Stagers will always stress neutral colors and use very little pattern in a room.  Have a (brutally honest) friend take a look as well and get their opinion.

Remember, Buyers first see your home in photos on the MLS listings and not in the flesh. How a room appears when we are standing in it can be quite different than what a Buyer might see online. Make sure the rooms look as spacious, neutral and uncluttered as possible so that the buyers will not immediately move on to the next listing.

If you would like some help Staging your home or just need an honest opinion of the job you have done, give me a call!

10 Things Buyers Don’t Care about (Part Two)

In my last post I highlighted items one through five of the 10 things buyers don’t care about when they are looking to buy a house.  Here is the eagerly awaited  part two of my list (6-10) of things Buyer’s Don’t Care About.

 

6. Your family living situation. How you live in your home and how you market your home for sale are TOTALLY different. I understand why the bunk beds are in the dining room ( the in laws are visiting for the Summer) and why a pool table is in the living room ( you never use the room anyway) but buyers don’t care. Buyers are not that imaginative and rooms  must be staged as to their intended purpose or else Buyers just get confused.

 

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7.Your wonderful memories. Your children were raised there, the family gathered there for every holiday, your husband built the awesome tree house. Sad to say but buyers don’t care. Buyers are looking at sq. footage, number of bedrooms and baths, school district, and a number of other things, none of which involve your good memories of the house. You MUST detach yourself from all those house memories  if you truly want to move on and make the sale. Remember, the day you decide to list your home, it no longer “your home”… it is now a” future buyers home”.

 

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8. Your favorite place in the world. Okay, you adore the beach (who doesn’t)  but shells, mini lighthouses,  lobster pillows and hanging wood signs that point “This Way to the Beach” in a home located in say, Utah, is not appealing to buyers. Themed rooms or homes  decorated based on your favorite vacation spot is just going to limit your pool of buyers. Remember, just because you love Provence doesn’t mean buyers do.

 

Which leads me to…

 

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9. Your decorating style (or non style). Buyers don’t care about the fabulous wallpaper that you spent 6 months looking for or the stenciled boarder you so  painstakingly put up in the nursery. Buyers don’t care that you think the dated brass ceiling fan is  “just fine” or that the blue wall to wall carpet from 1985 is “still in great shape”. Buyers want to see updated and current light fixtures ( no brass) , neutral painted walls ( if you have wallpaper, take my word for it…take it down), neutral flooring, and nothing taste specific ( refer back to #8) like dated flowery home furnishings.

 

And Last but certainly not least…

 

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10. Descriptive Adjectives. If your friends and family use words like “Unique”, “Funky”, “Out of the Box” or  “Wow” (and not in a good way) to describe any part of your home..assume there is a problem. Buyers are NEVER looking for these things in a home. Think of your home as if it was the dessert at a huge dinner party. Let’s say you decide to serve ice cream. Your first inclination is to mix together  Rum Raisin with Pistachio with Rocky Road. Not a whole lot of people are going to find that appetizing. Same goes for your home. Much better to appeal to everyone and serve something maybe a little boring like vanilla ice cream with colorful sprinkles. Pretty much everyone likes vanilla and the colorful sprinkles add just enough color and pop to keep it interesting.

Unique, Funky Out Of The Box and Wow...and not in a good way

I want to leave you with one more photo of a kitchen in a home that I was asked to stage where I was honestly left speechless.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you think every kitchen should have a life sized doll next to a shopping bag that says “Born To Shop” and a porcelain shoe?….I love my job!!!

My List of 10 Things Buyers DON’T Care About (Part One)

Along with Color Consulting and Redesign, I do a fair amount of Home Staging. Today I would like to share my list (part one) of the 10 Things that Buyers DO NOT care about when buying a new home. The list is beyond cleaning and de-cluttering as I assume most sellers already know the basics (no family photos, remove the clutter and clean, clean, clean). This list makes up the most common 10 things I continue to see and hear on almost every staging job I go to….so, here it is.

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1. How much you paid for (fill in the blank) back in the day.  Fact is, Buyers don’t care how much it cost you to decorate, remodel, fix, or update your home. If it is not adding to the appeal of the room it needs to go…which brings me to my pet peeve…

 

2. How much it cost you to have those custom window treatments made…this is a big one. I sometimes think half the houses here in the North East have dated window treatments (like Balloon shades) made back in the 1980′s that cost “over a $1,000 a window”. If your window treatments are blocking half the light coming in and are so full of dust mites that they are a bio hazard..get rid of them!

 

3. Trophies. Again, maybe it is just a Northeast thing but almost every kid’s bedroom I go into has shelves or bookcases lined with trophies. Yes, I know how proud you are that your first grader is a Tae Kwon-Do champ and that your high school student is headed to (fill in the blank) on a full athletic scholarship but buyers just don’t care. Trophies are dust magnets, distracting and a turn off for buyers who don’t have children as gifted and wonderful as yours.

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4. Your wonderful, adorable, PET. Yes, I do understand how much (fill in the blank) means to you and your family but nasty chew toys, hairy dog beds, food bowls, cages, giant bags of pet food, and God forbid litter boxes in the bathroom are a turn off to buyers. Just like on Craigslist, sellers of home items will stress “comes from a pet free home”;  buyers want to think they are buying a clean and pure pet free home as well. Now I am a huge animal lover so I understand your pain but you must hide any outward signs of pets.

 

 

5. Collections. Buyers don’t care if your passion is priceless Mayan artifacts,  Star War Figures, World War I memorabilia  or Porcelain Kitty Cats, the point is, they are taste specific, dust gathering distractions. Pack them away for your new home.

 

Part two will be  6-10.  In the meantime, here are a few  photos to give you some clues…what would you put on the list?

 

 

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