My house is your house. It’s a phrase we often find ourselves saying to houseguests, but the saying takes a new meaning when it comes to selling a house. Bottom line, when prospective buyers first approach a property, they’re trying to envision it as their home, not the current owner’s. And first impressions are everything in the sale of a residential property. That’s why it is so critical to take the time to stage properties as part of your marketing prep.
Luckily, staging can be a lot easier (and less expensive) than it sounds. Typically, the cost to the property owner is minimal, and the increase to the property’s value is substantial. For example, Grandma’s hand-knit curtains may mean a lot to the current property owner. Yet, to a buyer, they may come off as chintzy and kitsch. Installing inexpensive wood blinds can provide a more streamline look that broadens a property’s appeal.
Another tip is to take a good, honest look at the current owner’s furniture. Is it inviting? Is it past its prime? Does it clutter the space? As a general rule, I find that less is more, but empty is bleak. Too much furniture makes the space seems smaller than it is; having no furniture can leave potential buyers unsure of how they would occupy the space. I try to have just enough furniture to spark the buyer’s imagination; the rest should go into storage. And don’t be afraid to rent or borrow furniture that could help better define the space; again, this can be a minimal cost for a big return.
The same principles can be applied to the property’s exterior; keeping the lawn trimmed is just the beginning. I’ve found that removing old patio furniture, updating outdoor lighting fixtures, and filling empty flowerbeds are a few more low-cost, value-adding fixes.
After the house has been staged, one important prep element remains: photography. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in real estate, a good picture is worth thousands in property value. This means hiring a great photographer can make all the difference. In today’s market, homes can literally be sold through the Internet, and great pictures and a website are the tools to get this done.
As a final note, the most important thing to keep in mind is staging a home in the buyer’s tastes, not the seller’s. This may seem to go without saying for a realtor, but it can be more difficult for a seller, who is still considers the property their home, to grasp. Throughout the staging practice, just remind them of that little saying, “my house is your house.”
Photo by Annahape.
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