Staging Your Home

When it comes to selling your house, there are many factors that will affect the final price that are out of your control—concrete things like square footage, and abstract things, like the housing market—so it’s important to get the most out of the aspects that you do have control over.

The single most important part of selling your home that you control is staging.

With all of the Do-It-Yourself shows on TV these days, I’ve found that there are a lot of misconceptions about staging, so it’s one of the first things I make sure I talk to my Seller clients about. To begin with, I think it’s important to know what staging is, and what it isn’t:

Staging is your chance to set up your home so that others can easily see themselves in it. Buyers aren’t just looking at your home for what it is; they’re looking at what it could be, so it’s important to remember to let your house show potential as well as polish. Showcase areas where there’s room for expansion, and if a room in your house can be used for multiple purposes, make sure that others can see that, too.

Staging is not a reason to revisit unfinished home projects. When it comes time to sell, homeowners frequently gravitate towards the projects that hold personal significance for them, or the things they always meant to do to the house. While I understand the instinct, and certainly have unfinished projects of my own, I believe it’s critical to analyze the numbers to know what things are going to add the most value. For example, consider fixing up the kitchen or bathrooms first—typically, those represent the most profitable investments. While there’s no magic formula for what projects will make you the most money, dissecting the numbers is the Deferring Repairsfirst place to start, and is a standard part of the process I take my sellers through.

Staging is your opportunity to save money on deferred maintenance. “Deferred maintenance” is REALTOR®-speak for work that sellers typically put off for as long as they can. It can be as simple as cleaning out gutters, or may mean a larger investment like a new water heater. One of the most important things to understand is how much money sellers can save by taking care of these things prior to putting the house on the market. Think of it this way: every time you put off important maintenance, you give buyers another bargaining chip, and more reason to offer you less money. Of course, no one has the time or money to do everything, so it’s important to know which deferred maintenance items are going to be the most important—and it’s one of the things I work with my sellers on the most.

Staging is not the right time to showcase your personal style. Although you do want to dress up your home to look its best, it’s important to remember to hold back somewhat on the personal touches you add. For example, if a room needs to be painted, choose neutral colors—new owners will likely re-paint anyway, and you don’t want to run the risk of having your color choices affect a potential buyer’s interest.

In the end, each home is different and requires unique elements so that it shows the best it can. One of the parts I enjoy most about my job is working with each of my clients to find those elements, making sure that we strike the balance between personal touches and showcased potential. And trust me: if you’re doing it right, it’s far more fun than it looks on TV.

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