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Staging: It's all in the details

We've all seen them, the shows where the pros take over a home, strip it down, clean it up, rearrange it, and put it on the market where it sells for top dollar. The sellers' once cluttered and outdated shack is transformed into a sleek and chic bungalow. It's as though the Real Estate fairy came down and sprinkled magic dust and POOF! It goes on the market and sells immediately! Hard to believe? Well, I learned last week in a 2-day staging class that there's truth to it! 

Clutter cuts equity and staging sells!

The trick is that we as Realtors have to help our sellers understand their home has now become a product. A product that has to be presented as a desirable object to willing buyers or it will end up on the bargain rack at a rock bottom price. This comes with understanding that the way we live in our homes and the way we as Realtors market and sell your property are two different things. It's not interior decorating. Interior decorating is personalizing your home while staging is depersonaling and preparing a house for the unknown buyers. Also, the investment of time and money into staging is less than what a price reduction would be when the property is on the market too long with too little interest. 

Detail your house like you detail your car.

It's well known that if you clean your car before you sell it or trade it in, you get more money for it. It's the same when selling your house. In their 2017 study, the National Association of Realtors is quoted as saying that 77% of buyers’ agents said that staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. As a bonus, talk to your accounting professional ~ staging may be tax deductible as well. 

There are a couple of options for staging your house. You can have an accredited Stager Realtor (like myself) do a complimentary consultation to give you recommendations to prepare your house. Or, you can hire an accredited Stager to do a paid consultation, create a detailed report with a punch list of projects to be completed by you or by professionals. If professionals are hired, the Stager will act as a project manager to oversee the work.

Here are some more interesting points I learned over the course of the 2 days:

  • Look at the room to find the focal point (fireplace, bay window, french doors, television, etc) and plan the space around that.
  • Do not forget to stage the exterior of your home. Curb appeal is called appeal for a reason and you have one chance to make a first impression!
  • Staging is made up of 3 elements
    • Rearrange: rework the flow of the furniture to make it smoother and more open. For example, don't place a couch too close to the entrance of a room so it's an obstruction. 
    • Refresh: if a piece of furniture or home decor has become stale in one room, try it in another. Clean your windows and remove heavy drapes. Freshen up paint with lighter neutral colors. 
    • Reduce: If it's broken, outdated, clutter, or has no purpose, get rid of it. Also, take down the family photos and highly personalized items. 
  • Placing all of the furniture at one end of the room is called the "Titanic" effect.
  • Remove knives and silverware from countertops and tables. They can be used as weapons. 
  • Put away the plunger. To some it can imply that there are plumbing issues. 
  • Greenery and plants bring life into a room
  • Remember the magic number 3 when arranging decorative items in small-medium-high sizing.

Personally, the best part of the class was to actually stage a room in our project house that will be listed for sale in the near future. Walking in, my first thought was, "this is a beautiful home, what can I do to make it better?" Then I had to shift my thinking to "what can I do to make this property/product more appealing to someone who has never seen it so that they will want to buy it".  

1. Rearrange.  2. Refresh. 3. Reduce.

Step 1: My group determined our focal point of the living room was the television and the best traffic flow was down the right side of the room. We decided that removing the armchair to the right of the couch and angling the couch would give better flow and reinforce the tv's focal point. Also, we swapped the checkers table located in front of the window with a wing back chair, which would be better for socializing. 

Step 2: Now that the furniture was placed, we considered the accessories in the room and switched out some pieces for ones that fit the tone of the room more. We "shopped" throughout the rest of the house for these items and offered the things we weren't going to use for other student stagers to use. We employed the magic number 3 and small-medium-high sizing when placing accessories on the mantle and on tables.

Step 3: For furniture, we removed an armchair, a side table, and a plant stand. We also removed anything remaining that was too personal such as family pictures and books (with the exception of a couple of coffee table books).

If you are considering selling your house, I strongly recommend staging. It doesn't matter if you have a classic colonial, a homey ranch, or a grand manse, it will increase the appeal to the buyers who walk through the door. 

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