Monday, June 25, 2012

Staging - Does Your House Have To Be Empty To Sell?

Today's morning news feed included an article from advising readers that the best way to sell a home is to stage it.  Okay, I'm with you so far.  

"You want the space to look BIG, CLEAN, SPACIOUS and UNCLUTTERED. This isn't supposed to be a functional room."

Pardon me? Functionality kills sales?

contemporary  by eva
Photo credit: eva
"For this home office, I used a bright rug to punch in some color and pattern to an otherwise boxy white room. The clear console stands in for a desk (if buyers saw my real desk stacked with papers and dirty coffee mugs, they'd run for the hills)."

So if you work from home, you are supposed to put all your furniture into storage and set up camp in the local coffee shop?  Send the children and their toys to relatives?

This advice strikes me as completely impractical unless you've already moved and have money to burn on furniture for staging your former home.  It used to be gospel that an empty house sold best - a blank palette on which potential buyers could envision their own furnishings.

We're now supposed to turn our living spaces into hotel lobbies or sets for magazine shoots.

Let's try something a little more realistic.

First, clean your house.  Really clean it.  Air it out. I've been with people who walk into a nice looking home, take one sniff and immediately shut down.  Whether it's pets, smoke or even that musky perfume that everyone says they just love, a house that smells like your life doesn't invite strangers to stay.

Move the clutter out. You're planning on moving, aren't you? Pack up your beloved mementos now.  Clear your shelves, your counters, neaten your closets. Move your stuff aside to let a buyer's eye focus on the space. That's what you're trying to sell.

Go neutral.  At fifty dollars a gallon in some places, I can't say paint is cheap. But it is still one of the cheapest ways to completely update a room.  I don't believe you have to paint every wall white, but neutral, soft colors are the way to go.  Target those rooms that people have complimented you on with words like, "Wow, I'd have never thought of using that color!" and "I don't usually like ...., but it looks great here!"

White includes a rainbow of colors now; you'll find whites with a hint of soft blush, mellow sand, baby leaf, sunset lavender.  The goal is to avoid any negative reactions and maximize the oohs and aahs. Neutral colors offend no one. Let the buyers slap on a coat of their favorite cobalt blue later.

Yours, only better. I do not think you have to eliminate all your furniture and buy an Ikea couch. Look at your furniture with a critical eye.  If your couch has been scratched to shreds by your beloved cat, get a good slipcover. Invest in a new bedspread. Any furniture that serves no purpose should go into temporary storage. Make space. You may like the open feeling so much you recreate it in your new home!

Be prepared. Replace burned out bulbs. Turn on the lights before a showing. Set the table. Put out flowers. Light a candle. Your house has a date - make it look its best.

Does staging guarantee you'll sell your house? No. There are no guarantees. But you're putting the odds in your favor.

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