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Your Guide to Selling your Home

Everything you need to know to sell your home without an agent.

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Staging is all about selling a lifestyle. Buyers are going through an emotional process connecting with a home. Buyers need to walk through a home instead of relying on photos and videos so they can feel the experience of walking through the space.

Sellers can elevate the buyer’s experience in their home by helping guide the buyers along their emotional journey. Create a warm and inviting lifestyle experience where a buyer says, “I want to live like this!” This is how many great marketing gurus learned to sell – check out the biography of Steve Jobs for an example. This is the power of Home Staging.

When staging a home, hiring a professional stager is very helpful.  A really good one can work with the items already in your home as well, though the really amazing “Wow” homes are ones that are professionally staged with physical furniture.

Yes, you can virtually stage a home as well! This is a much more affordable option. However, keep in mind this is only good for the photos on the internet and MLS. When people walk through your home, the virtually staged furniture is not there! So this is only good for getting people to come to your home. How are you going to help them feel at home while walking through your home? 

The true benefits of virtual staging are two-fold: exciting people to come look at your home, and helping buyers envision ways to make use of the space. Some homes have tricky awkward spaces that are hard to know how the space could be set up. Virtual staging provides a way for them to envision a way to organize furniture in the space. 

Staging with real furnishings can easily costs $2,000-$5,000. While this cost can seem like too much for “renting” furnishings, the end result could net you thousands more in the sales price as well as sell quickly, saving you carry costs to hold on to the home longer. If you’re still not sure about the value of staging, head out to some open houses this weekend. Focus on what you tend to notice when you walk around the home.

  • No furnishings empty home. Most buyers walking around an empty home focus on two things:
    • The walls, floors, light switches & outlets. There is nothing distracting or obstructing the bare bones of the home. When this is the case, it is very obvious when there are marks and scuffs on the walls and floors. If you are not going to stage your home with any furnishings, focus heavily on deep cleaning and touching up the rooms.
    • How to imagine furnishings in the space. A lot of buyers struggle to see how to set up each room. They will ask their agent, “Will a king sized bed fit here?” “Where would you put the TV?” “How will my couch fit in this space?” and for unique nooks they ask, “What would you do in this space?” A furnished home easily answers these questions for buyers.
  • Sellers’ furnishings. Most people tend to have a mis-match of furnishings. This tends to happen as they buy things over time, where each room is no longer a full matching set. For example, the dining room may have a matching table and chairs, but the wall paintings are from local art fairs or their travels and the colors and design do not match the furniture. Notice how it feels walking through rooms like this.
  • Professionally Staged home. Walking through a professionally staged home feels like stepping through a magazine ad. Most people think – “Wow, I want to live like this!” Staged rooms tends towards a minimalist concepts which provides extra space to make the room feel large and roomy. The décor matches throughout a room. The art is abstract which complements the space without drawing up any negative memories or feelings for buyers.
    A well staged home will have some buyers half-heartedly asking, “Can I just buy all the furnishings too?” Then you know, you’ve sold them on this home’s lifestyle and what it can provide.

And this can lead to another option related to renting furnishings. Can you spend the money on buying furnishings and sell them with the home?

Yes! People do this, and a common example is when someone wishes to sell an AirBnB short-term furnished rental. But will you get your money back on that investment? Maybe. This goes back to who are your potential buyers? Some buyers have decades-worth of collected furnishings and wall décor when buying a home, so they are less likely to want to spend extra money on new furnishings even if it looks good. A first-time home buyer may really appreciate the furnishings, but may not have any extra money to put towards paying you for it. If your buyer is moving to the area from out of state, they may appreciate a partly furnished home, making it easier for them to sell off their furniture back home and not have to move it cross-country.

Here’s the best way to consider whether it is worth purchasing vs renting furnishings:
Purchase furnishings if:

  • You would like to keep the furnishings if the buyer doesn’t want the furnishings.
  • You have the time and money to source the furnishings (one room could cost you $3,000-$5,000) and will it will look good/cohesive.
  • You’re okay with also paying to move or sell the furnishings if the buyer doesn’t want them.
  • This will cost you a lot more than paying for a stager. But, if you want new furniture anyway, or your buyer demographics would likely want to buy your furnishings, then maybe it is worth it.

If you are furnishing yourself or hiring a professional stager, the keys to good staging include:

  • Neutral artwork. You want abstract pieces that complement the space, not ones that elicit memories or sadness from buyers. For example, an abstract-looking painting that depicts a family could draw sad emotions from a couple unable to conceive, or a family who lost a child. 
  • Minimalism highlighting the space and features of the room. Remove clutter including knick-knacks and books as it “tires out the eyes” to have so much to look at. Instead, use large decor pieces (prints, paintings, vases) and smaller sized furniture.
  • Focus on the 5 feet around the front door. Buyers having nothing to do but look around while they wait for their agent to get the lockbox open and the front door unlocked. This is also their first impression of the home, so make it welcoming!
  • Kitchens and bathrooms are cheap and easy to add some decor or towels that can really dress up the space with charm. For bathrooms, consider layering towels with one in white and another in a complementary color. Add a wood container to hold the soap dispenser and a wash cloth to add a spa-like feel. 
  • Set the table. A dining table set with nice dinnerware and a centerpiece can suggest a space where new owners might entertain. This is another cheap and easy option. Layer in a table runner, placemats, plates with bowls on top. 
  • Most real estate agents will have 3 room staged at a minimum, including the lounge, dining area, and primary bedroom. A good stager will add some decor to the kitchen and bathrooms to make it look welcoming as well as part of the package. Staging can also be done in the front and back yards - decks and patios, play rooms and office spaces, and nooks.

Look for staging that you like when you visit open houses. Some stagers will leave their business cards at the home that they staged. If not, you can ask the listing agent who was used to stage that home.

Ask for recommendations from your real estate agent, if you are using one. 

Ask for recommendations on social media, facebook groups, from friends.

When you find a stager, make sure you like what they do. Ask for example rooms, and ask what style would they do in your rooms and what it will look like. Find out how much they charge, which typically includes an upfront fee and a monthly fee. Work out how many rooms and spaces you would like done, and ask if they have some decor elements for your kitchen and bathrooms. 

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