When it comes to selling your home, it can be tempting to simply move your belongings and leave the rest to the real estate agent.
In this tight buyers’ market, attempting to shift a property can be futile. After all, it is difficult to imagine a cosy family abode or relaxing retreat when faced with stark walls and bare rooms.
But for those who want their property to stand out from the crowd, home staging offers the perfect solution.
Inspired by apartment developers, who use show homes to increase sales, staging helps prospective buyers to envision a property’s potential. Through the use of strategically placed furnishings, staging highlights a property’s strengths and plays down its weaknesses.
Staging makes your house look bigger, brighter and more attractive and, best of all, it increases its appeal to prospective buyers.
A 2007 Home Gain Survey of over 2,000 realtors in the United States discovered that sellers who spent typically $500 on staging services for their home recovered over 343 per cent of the cost on closing.
“Dressing or staging your property can make the difference between your property renting or selling very quickly, or it sitting empty for another two months,” says Tessa Hydes, owner of Tessa Hydes Property Management.
“If two identically furnished units are for rent or sale side by side, the one that has been staged will move first 95 per cent of the time,” she believes.
But when staging your property, Tessa warns against going over the top.
“Personal items should not be used. You want the new owner or tenant to be able to imagine living there,” she says.
“Often items already in the property are used, but are moved around to serve the space more effectively. Always keep it simple, use neutral colours where possible and streamline the look.”
As a realtor, George Davidson of Capital Realty is a great believer in staging. Along with his wife, Eileen, George often helps his clients to stage their homes, condos and apartments.
“It’s all about presenting a home in the best light possible,” George says.
He suggests homeowners remove personal effects and photos. While prospective buyers want homes to feel warm and inviting, they don’t want to feel like they are displacing you from your home.
“It’s always a good idea to tuck these things away or remove them altogether,” he suggests.
“Trees should be trimmed,” George says. “Invest in inexpensive landscaping and remove clutter from inside and outside your home. All these things make my job easier and moves the sale along quicker.”
Realtors believe the outside of your home, which is the first part of the property visitors see, sets the tone for the rest of the house. First impressions can last and curb appeal should not be underestimated.
A quart of glossy paint in a bold, cheerful colour on the front door, along with polished door knockers and strategically placed potted plants near the doorstep, refreshes your home’s entryway. Floors should be cleaned and grubby rugs should be removed.
These details require minimal investment, but give your home or condo a dramatic boost.
Owners should use outside spaces creatively. “Seating areas outside are always a good idea,” says Suzanne Schwarz, of Vigoro Nursery. “It expands your living space. It could be a couple of umbrellas … or as simple as a small clearing accented with a few chairs.”
Colour can also improve the appearance of your property.
“Colour does a whole lot to a place. It can change the whole outlook,” says Jeff DaCosta, owner of Paint Pros.
His company can paint a two-bedroom home or condo for around $2,500 for the interior and $2,200 for the exterior.
Conquering clutter should be a top priority when putting your home on the market. The experts all agree your property will be more inviting if clutter is out of sight.
As a rule, if you haven’t used it in three months, box it up and store it away. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. Does that sound like a tall order? Then take it one room at a time.
Whether it is an unused bedroom or a garage, realtors also suggest using that storage or ‘junk room’ to add value to your home.
Move boxes to a friend’s home, rent a storage space, have a yard sale or donate the stuff to charity.
Then get to work creating a useful space, like an exercise room or an art studio, which can add immediate value to your home.
Hiring a stager
Tessa believes objectivity is a key factor when deciding whether to hire a professional stager.
“If you have a strong personality, which comes across in your furnishing style, it may be worth hiring a professional property stager or dresser as they will be more able to see the property in an unemotional and less personal manner,” she suggests.
“They will also be able to provide ideas that will appeal to a larger cross section of the public.”
Hiring a professional stager can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the square footage of the property and the number of rooms that need to be staged.
Regardless of whether you hire a professional stager or take on the task yourself, staging will increase the appeal of your property and ensure it doesn’t languish on the market. From the front curb to the backyard, staging is not only easy, for prospective sellers it is money well spent.