With the Spring selling season approaching there are likely sellers considering placing homes on the market. While this is great news, especially since there are still many buyers and low inventory levels, it is important for sellers to understand the current market before listing their homes. To get top dollar, all sellers should consider staging, and there are many different levels of staging – from simple decluttering and rearranging furniture, to heavy staging.
Today’s buyers have changed from the buyers of yesterday. They are more savvy, more on top of what they should expect in certain neighborhoods, and many know the comps and understand them inside and out. They are not likely to jump on something if they feel it does not make financial sense; for example, if a home shows well but has few upgrades, and other homes in the price range have more upgrades, buyers are more comfortable with walking away rather than trying to negotiate the price down. Even more so, they may simply note this after viewing the home online and not even bother to come see it.
Anyone who is considering selling their home should find a listing agent who can help determine the individual needs of the home so that it shows the best it can. Having your agent help you see things from a different perspective is a big help, as often it is hard to step back and view your own home from a potential buyer’s eyes. From adding more light to painting, rearranging furniture or decluttering, there are many things most sellers can do to help their homes show in the best light. Let’s look at different levels of staging.
No Staging. There are some homes that show like models. I just sold one, and I probably could have sold it to at least 10 other buyers. It was so pristine and showed so well that there was nothing that needed to be done. Of course, this is rare because most people do not live this way, but it was sure nice as a listing agent to market such a beautiful home! Many sellers get staging going before they even contact a real estate agent, so by the time one comes the home already has improved on the showing meter. But others need assistance.
Light Staging. Light staging is the easiest kind, and often costs no or very little money and effort. Keeping in mind that every room should be made to feel as spacious as possible, this is where cleaning and decluttering come in. Have your sellers take out stacks of magazines and books, extra furniture that makes the room feel smaller or crowded. Open window treatments and let in the light. Clear off tables and put away knick knacks. In the kitchen, try to get as much off the counters as possible – buyers want to see how much work space there is. Take down pictures if walls are covered with them, and only use a selective few pieces of art in each room.
Moderate staging: This involves a little more work than light staging, but with many of the same concepts. For moderate staging the seller might paint a room or several, plant flowers out front and spruce up the landscaping to heighten curb appeal, or even purchase a few pieces to place strategically around the home (like plants or artwork). If it is necessary to make bigger purchases the seller may want to consider hiring a professional stager.
Heavy Staging: This is where most agents recommend hiring a professional staging company. If the home has an unusual layout or is vacant or not fully furnished, or where the current furniture does not compliment the home (such as big chunky pieces in a small cottage), you may need to bite the bullet and call in reinforcements. It’s a small price to pay to stir up the interest from buyers (and of course your agent will be having professional photos shot once it’s all ready!)
It is important to keep in mind that if you are a seller who wants to get top dollar for your home, and likely sell it more quickly, you should definitely think about staging. Speak with your agent about what you need to do to get your home in tip-top shape.