MAKE. YOUR. BED! I promise we will dive deeper in a minute, but as a licensed Realtor, I cannot tell you how many listing photos I see that look like they had to wrestle and wrangle the camera from the grips of their comforter. Let’s move on. What is home staging? Why should you do it? Do I have to? All great questions.
What is Home Staging?
Home staging refers to styling a property in a way that makes it more attractive to potential buyers. When you are shopping for groceries, would you rather choose your canned goods from organized shelves, with the labels facing out, alphabetical from Beets to Yams, or dig through a barrel of disarray, hunting for a can of creamed corn but half the labels are missing? Of course, you would choose the shelves. Everyone judges a book by it’s cover (even if you aren’t supposed to), and if your book looks like it’s been mauled by a bear, it won’t get picked up and read. Presentation is everything, and it gets a higher price. I’ll bet the cans in the barrel were being sold at a discount. If you don’t want to sell your home at a discount, make it look presentable. Enter- Home staging.
DIY Home Staging
You’re ready. You don’t want your home compared to a label-less can of creamed corn. What do I do now? In true Do-It-Yourself-er fashion, you can head over to Pinterest and start saving idea boards, but it really begins with two basic principles. Declutter and depersonalize.
Home staging blows spring cleaning out of the water. Your home is about to get an HGTV makeover that will make you think twice about listing it. Just kidding, but really, when you organize correctly, it should make the space look even bigger.
Tip from the pros- rent a pod. No need to move your entire house multiple times. Pods are delivered straight to your driveway, you fill it at your convenience and then they come get it until you’re ready for it to be delivered to your new home. No multiple moving trucks or having to find someone who knows how to drive a stick shift.
Go through cabinets, closets and storage areas. You don’t need to pack everything away. It is actually preferred that you leave some items to use or ‘stage’ with. Instead of having your linen closet shoved full of beach towels, race car sheets, and wrapping paper, choose only your white towels with matching king size sheets. Fold them neatly, have them occupy a couple of shelves and have some small baskets accompany them. We want to show the use of the space in a minimalist way. You will go room by room and apply this tactic. In our house, the kitchen island is used as a catch all for school papers, mail and half empty water cups. In your home staging photo, it should be a clear space with a bowl of fruit or vase of flowers in the middle.
When shoppers are looking at homes, they aren’t interested in the memories you made in this house. They want to be able to imagine their family making new memories in it. This means you want to remove your family photos, the kids art projects from the refrigerator, and your bowling trophies from the shelves in the man cave.
Tip from the pros- Remove anything affiliated with religion or politics. You don’t want to turn a buyer off who may have a different opinion on these hot topics. You’re not trying to lobby Congress, you’re trying to sell a house.
Professional Home Staging
You may have gotten halfway through our DIY section, looked around at your bachelor pad, where you are currently using a stack of pizza boxes as an entertainment center, and thought, can someone please help me? The good news it, YES! These are the pros that we referenced above who do this for a living. Simply ask your listing agent to recommend someone, and you can star in your own episode of “Stage This House”.
A professional home stager is going to come in and provide an initial design consultation. They will go room by room and let you know what you need to do on your end. They are, after all, a stager, not hired movers. Once your homework is complete, a stager will either use items that you already own or they may bring in some pieces to supplement, ie swap the pizza box tower for a mahogany console table. Professional home stagers are the same people who put together photo shoots for magazines, they know how to get the most out of their space and how to make buyers swoon.
Does this fancy work come with a fancy price tag? Not really. Professional home staging will typically only run you a few hundred bucks. The small investment that has some big numbers behind it. Homes that have been professionally staged, increase the homes sales price by about 17% and tend to get a contract within the first few weeks vs months.
Virtual Home Staging
Let’s kick this into the 21st Century! Virtual staging has been called ‘The Future of Real Estate’ or ‘Photoshop for Homes’ and can be especially helpful if you are listing a vacant home. Some virtual stagers or virtual staging apps will just cover the basics. They can take your photos and adjust the lighting or color saturation. They can give your brown grass and faded mulch a boost or brighten up your basement so the lamp doesn’t give off such a yellow tone.
No, they’re not going to send drones to deliver a sofa, but they can actually add virtual furniture and decor to the empty rooms. Remember how we talked about how the right items can actually make a room look bigger? That is what this approach does. Now, you want to be careful not to change the actual real estate that you are selling. You have to be honest in your photos of the property that is being sold, meaning anything that is attached to the home has to be represented factually. Translation: do not use virtual staging to add a crystal chandelier or swap that ‘70s shag carpeting for hardwood.
We’ve learned so much today. Now we know what home staging is, why and how to do it. But one question remains, “Do I HAVE TO?” Well, no. You are welcome to have a pizza box, messy bed, creamed corn, discount home sale..but don’t you think your house deserves better?