Property staging is no joke, it’s not voodoo and certainly nothing to ignore. Sellers, if you are serious about selling your home/investment for the most money in the least amount of time, you need to at least consider property staging.
We all know the basics of property staging to get a home noticed, to attract a buyer, to secure a contract.
1. Price the property appropriately. Take into account the local market, the sold comps, the competition on the market, the season and of course the value the house brings.
2. Market the property appropriately. More than 85% of buyers are searching online, if you property is not online everywhere it can be, and with plenty of great pictures, you are not doing it justice. Yes, there are buyers out there who will refuse to even go see a house unless there are pictures to see online first. Is your home in the MLS? Do you have a sign in the yard that attracts passersby?
3. Showing condition. The home should be clean, decluttered, depersonalized, available for showings with reasonable notice … and the Seller should not be present. There shouldn’t be nasty smells (pets, feet, garbage, smoke, mold) or safety hazards present. The property should be set up to invite guests in, make them feel welcome, encourage them to linger and it should be easy to imagine other people’s possessions in there.
Property staging can be done by the Seller, their Realtor or an independent staging consultant. It may involve moving furniture and accessories out, moving them around or bringing more in. I am an accredited staging professional. I tend toward the basics first and am definitely in favor of “use what you have” as a first resort in property staging. Its quicker, more comfortable for the seller and of course less expensive. More often than not I’m suggesting the removal of possessions long before I suggest renting furniture, unless the property staging is for a vacant house.
Dallice’s top 5 things I suggest removing:
5. Excess furniture and accessories. Too many rugs or those with curled edges that might become tripping hazards. Collections of knick knacks. Excessive furniture… Making the space appear small, crowded, dark or just plain difficult to maneuver around in.
4. Medical devices and equipment. This includes prescription medications. Get them away from bedside tables, off bathroom counters. Take the commode and hide it. For showings, put away the shower seat, the oxygen tanks etc. I do this for several reasons. Firstly because medical issues can make people uncomfortable, secondly I don’t want to give visitors the idea that the occupant is fragile and vulnerable (security reason) and thirdly medical issues can give the impression the occupant has to move and the seller then loses negotiation power when an offer comes in.
3. Religious signs and symbols. The idea when property staging, is to make visitors feel comfortable, not like outsiders, not judged. If possible you want to find things you have in common. Maybe that is your religious beliefs, but the statistics are against you and it’s more likely you are highlighting your differences in beliefs.
2. Anything political. Again, you are trying to highlight similarities between you and the Buyers. It’s better to not reveal your political leanings than reveal that you are on opposite sides of issues either of you may be passionate about.
1. Animals. Oh my word, you have no idea how big a turn off the wrong animal signals can be. Litterboxes… No brainer. Pet smells, unexplained stains on carpet, dried up food in bowls, poop outside in the yard – or inside in the unfinished basement as I found at one home! Property staging includes adequately crating barking, growling, jumping, licking and overly affectionate animals. Sellers, it’s stressful enough on your animals to have perfect strangers enter your home, when you are not there. Don’t risk these strangers touching your pets, with good intention or not. Also consider that there are potential buyers with allergies. In order that you keep the buyers in the home as long as possible, increasing your chances of an offer, you need to separate them from the animals. Ok… now lets consider animals that are not pets, or not alive! Furs, skins and taxidermy are off-putting or down right offensive to many folks. I live in Boulder… Do not underestimate the impact that dead animals have on the willingness of someone to fall in love with your home!
And now; true stories of listings and showings in Northern Colorado 🙂
One upon a time, I was awarded a listing. Nice house… large and fairly new. The sellers were moving for work reasons, back to Texas. They had not lived here long, had bought when the market was stronger, done little to improve the house and basically owed as much or more than we hoped to sell it for. My first appointment at the house, I did my usual walk through, followed by suggestions for making it more appealing to a wider range of buyers. In essence, a property staging consultation. I asked them to take down the framed pictures of George W Bush, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul. I suggested the removal of the giant Texas flag in the living room, the over-sized Holy Bible in the hallway and the zebra skin mounted above the master bed. I also suggested hiding the tarantula and the caged ferrets that had biting tendencies. The home owners decided they would rather not do any of the property staging I suggested, even after the showing feedback seemed to agree with me. The house eventually changed agents… didn’t sell… went into foreclosure.
Just the other day I took a potential buyer through a cute-as-a-button place in Boulder. It showed great. Basement, check. Main level living rooms, check. Two bedrooms on upper level, check. All was looking pretty amazing actually and the clients were falling in love with it. Then Mrs Buyer entered bedroom #3. I heard a little high pitched gasp just seconds before I followed her into the room and cried out, myself. This is what we found:
No, this lion-rug-art was not the reason my clients decided to purchase something different. But it didn’t help either. My feedback to the listing agent after the showing did mention the lion – and the clients initial shock at the Sellers property staging choice.