By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
The early spring home selling-season is kicking off. There’s no time like the present to start decluttering and transforming your lived-in home into a show-worthy property to make a positive impression on potential buyers. That means attending to the most important details that will create mass buyer appeal and increase your home’s value.
“A seller has to try to be objective by looking at their home as a product or some other commodity that one would purchase,” says Lisa Gallagher, a real estate professional with William Raveis, Newtown, Conn. “You have only one chance to get it right so present your home in the best possible light.”
Indeed, 95 percent of homes that are staged by professional home stagers sell, on average, in 35 days or less and for close to the asking price – versus 140 days for non-staged homes, according to a study by the Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP), a national staging trade organization.
Staged homes also show better in photographs.
“Homes that are prepared for market and look good on the Internet, usually sell the quickest,” Gallagher says. “Time is money and less time on the market means less stress and frustration for the seller.”
While some homes may require more work than others, the following represent our top staging “do’s and don’ts” that are essential in getting your property ready for sale.
PJ & Co.’s Top 5 Do’s in Home Staging
1. Focus on curb appeal. Make the best first impression by sprucing up the lawn and landscape.
- Remove dead or overgrown shrubs.
- Touch up any peeling paint, and power wash the outside if needed.
- Repair any cracks in the driveway and walkway, power wash steps and railings if necessary.
- Look at the outdoor lighting. Is it time to repair or replace?
- Add welcoming touches to the front door including seasonal plants and a fresh welcome mat.
- Ensure that you have a prominent, working doorbell and the front door is freshly painted.
2. Declutter and neutralize.
Look at each room objectively and start packing.
- Remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing your property, including personal collections (yes, the sports memorabilia room has to go!), a wall of family photos, newspapers, books and magazines, etc.
- Consider donating outdated furniture and household accessories to a local nonprofit.
3. Refresh walls, rugs and windows treatments. When was the last time your seller painted? Are their imperfections or scratches on the walls? Is the current paint color dated? If so, consider adding a fresh coat of neutral paint. The same applies to area rugs and carpeting. Be sure to have them professionally cleaned and, if dated, consider replacing. If you have hardwood floors under the carpeting, you’ll find it worthwhile to remove and refinish the floors to use the hardwoods as a selling-point. As for window treatments, remove any outdated or specific styles and replace. Or if you have great windows — make them stand out by removing all window treatments.
4. Brighten and add warmth.
It’s important that the home feel light and bright. Open the curtains wide (or replace as indicated above) and let in as much natural light as possible. Also, replace any light fixtures that are outdated and make sure all existing lights are working.
5. Make it shine. Clean, dust, vacuum, and deodorize. Think: aggressive spring cleaning!
We often suggest to our clients that they have a professional service clean the property from top to bottom including walls, ceilings, and baseboards. Dirt eats equity and the more your home shines the better for prospective buyers. Windows and mirrors should be free of fingerprints and hardwood floors should shine.
Scrub bathrooms and kitchens so they sparkle. Don’t forget to dust lampshades and curtains.
Top 5 Don’ts in Home Staging
1. Don’t be emotionally attached. As soon as your sellers makes the commitment to sell, they need to look at their end goal. Are they downsizing, moving to be near family, or a warmer climate? It’s important for them to emotionally detach from selling their home. Any negative remarks you gather as their real estate professional from home buyers, sellers need to be able to use as constructive criticism and be willing to do what it takes to get their “product” sold timely and for top dollar.
2. Don’t be afraid to team up. Selling a home can be overwhelming. Just packing and decluttering is a monumental task and that is why using a professional home stager is an investment in getting your property sold. A professional stager (not a decorator) is an expert who can look at the home objectively and provide proven methods to help enhance your clients’ home showings.
3. Don’t leave anything broken. Everything should function correctly and be in working order. Sellers need to make sure they repair leaky faucets, cracked windows, loose doorknobs, broken tile, and replace light bulbs that don’t work.
4. Don’t invest in major renovations.
Now is not the time to gut the kitchen with a complete makeover. Keep it to the essentials in giving the home a basic cosmetic fix. Painting goes a long way in providing a modern “facelift” to a home, including kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. Updating a home by adding new flooring, if needed, a new bathroom vanity and light fixture, and making any necessary repairs will be worth the investment to get the house sold.
5. Don’t buy all new furniture. Rearrange and put away excessive pieces to simplify and make the room appear larger. Update or hide imperfections with new throws and pillows. However, if your sellers are already planning to purchase updated furniture for their new home, they may want to consider buying sooner for selling purposes too.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog. To contact, e-mail Patti Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can home owners deduct the cost of their energy-efficiency upgrades on their taxes?
Answer that and other home ownership tax questions by posting to your website a free article, “Don’t Miss These Home Tax Deductions,” from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the “Get Your Tax-Filing Party Started!” article package. Share all five today.
Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.
Copyright 2015 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Besides an upscale kitchen and plenty of space, what are new-home buyers’ looking for when house hunting? Surveys by the National Association of Home Builders and homebuilder PulteGroup shed some light on a few of the latest in-demand amenities.
1. Walk-in closets: Large closets, particularly in the master bedroom, is among one of home shoppers’ top priorities, according to the NAHB survey of builders and remodelers. Indeed, 31 percent of 1,000 home owners recently surveyed by PulteGroup said they’d sacrifice another household feature in order to have his-and-hers closets in the master bedroom.
2. Luxurious laundry rooms: Buyers are looking for more than just a place to stick their washer and dryer. They want upgraded laundry rooms – complete with skylights, built-in ironing boards, space for folding clothes, extra storage, and upgraded appliances, according to the NAHB survey.
3. Energy efficiency: Home buyers are looking to cut utility costs, and energy efficiency appliances and products can be one way to do that. Low e-windows, Energy Star appliances, and programmable thermostats are more in demand among home shoppers.
4. Great rooms: These large open spaces that often merge dining rooms, living rooms, and kitchens continue to be in high-demand among home shoppers, according to NAHB’s poll of builders. “Great rooms are wonderful places where everyone in the family can sit around, or where the kids can do their homework while you get dinner ready,” Stephen Melman of NAHB told MainStreet. “Today’s great rooms are large, bright and just make you feel good being there.”
5. Taller first-floor ceilings: More home buyers want the first floor to stretch beyond the typical eight-foot ceiling. They’re asking builders for nine-foot ceiling heights. The taller ceilings can open up living rooms, dining rooms, and other spaces on the first floor. But home shoppers say they can do without the cathedral ceiling in the family room, which can be too costly to heat and cool. Also, they aren’t preferring the higher ceilings on the second floor, which many home buyers say they want to feel more cozy, Melman says.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
If you’re prepping a home for sale, what are the main areas of a home you should target with your staging – especially if you can’t stage every square inch? The National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging ranks the most important rooms to be staged, based on a survey of real estate buyer agent’s. Here’s how a home’s spaces stacked up:
1. Living room
3. Master bedroom
4. Dining room
6. Children’s bedroom
7. Guest bedroom
Overall, the survey found that staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even the home’s perceived value. Indeed, 32 percent of buyer agent’s say that their clients tend to be more willing to increase their offer by 1 percent to 5 percent of the dollar value; 16 percent say they believe a staged home could potentially raise their buyers’ offer by 6 percent to 10 percent.
The following chart shows just how staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home.
Yet, not every seller opts to stage, nor do the listing agents always recommend it. Forty-four percent of listing agents surveyed said they do not recommend staging but instead suggest that the seller declutters and fixes any property flaws; 13 percent say they only recommend staging for “difficult” homes to sell; and 4 percent say they only reserve staging for their high-price bracket listings. On the other hand, 34 percent of listing agents surveyed say they recommend staging for all the homes they list.
For those who do stage, the median dollar value spent on home staging per home was $675.
But who pays that amount varies. Sixty-two percent of REALTORS® surveyed say that the seller’s agent offers the home staging service to sellers and pays for it; 39 percent say the sellers pay for staging prior to listing the home; 10 percent say the seller pays for the staging after the home is sold; and only 3 percent say the agent’s firm pays for a home staging service.
Access more of the results from the 2015 Profile of Home Staging at Realtor.org.