When listing a home, staging it is one of the most imperative things a seller can do to help inspire buyers. Polishing and preparing the home for sale can make an instant difference to a buyer.
They see extra value in a home that makes a positive first impression, and the seller financially benefits from their efforts, Truckee/North Lake Tahoe-based associate with Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Samantha Swigard explains.
“First, take a look at the front of the home for signs of deferred maintenance and address them. Next, look at the entry and do all that can be done to enhance the positive features of the interior of the home. This may be removing area rugs to reveal the hardwood floors, or even replacing an old, outdated light fixture,” Swigard says.
“Remove crowded furniture or old drapes. Maybe add a few trendy items for an updated feel, if necessary.”
To many real estate professionals, decluttering is just as important as staging.
“Sellers just need to look at each room of the house and remove about half of their belongings. Half the photos, knick knacks, etc.,” Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty Global Real Estate Advisor Kathy Williams shares. “If they are going to be moving anyway, then they may as well do this up front. It makes for easier packing after getting an offer, less stress and makes the house look better.”
Removing sellers’ beloved trinkets and family photos makes room for potential buyers’ imagination.
“I am a huge fan of staging a home. But I am even a bigger fan of decluttering. Buyers want to see the house and envision their own possessions in the home. That vision is harder to capture when the home is filled with the objects and memories you’ve collected over the years,” says David Gemme, broker associate for Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty. “Take the time to prepare the home for market. Walk through it with your agent and begin the moving process before you even put the home on the market.”
Kathy Williams also encourages sellers to have their home professionally cleaned, “from the carpets to the windows. Clean sells.” Installing brighter light bulbs and placing new, white bath towels and fluffy mats in the bathrooms makes a huge difference for a small investment.
Swigard agrees. “Nothing beats a good professional deep clean,” she says. “Listen to your realtor’s advice and take the time to prep and clean the home before photography. It’s critical to your financial return.”
It doesn’t always take a fortune to create an impactful, positive first impression.
“Staging is incredibly important to the successful sale of a home, minimizing days on market and maximizing your sale price. Buyers want the home they’re looking at to inspire them. It needs to feel fresh, clean and alive,” explains Tahoe City-based agent Katherina Haug. “When we’re preparing a home for market, we review the available furnishings with our stager, and then have them come in and rearrange, bring in new pieces and re-enliven the space. It’s amazing what happens when a fresh look takes over a room.”
After decluttering, Gemme sees what staging is needed, or what furnishings can simply be moved around to make the rooms feel bigger, brighter and more open. If it’s new construction, he says it’s worth it to pay to have the primary rooms staged, like the master bedroom and living room.
Today, nine out of 10 buyers find their next home online, so creating an exceptional first photographic impression is important. If they don’t feel inspired, they won’t even call to see the home, much less be interested in purchasing it.
Gemme suggests looking for strong patterns that will dominate the photo space. Some of his favorites are floral wallpapers, plaid bedspreads, brightly colored pillows and heavy, patterned curtains.
No matter if it’s online or in person, set the stage to stun buyers.
“A key point I’ve learned from my favorite stagers is that the first look into the room needs to be the ‘wow’ moment. Set the scene so that the first impression is the best impression, suggests Haug. “If the house looks nice, it feels nice. It’s as simple as that. A stager once told me, ‘That first look needs to be your Architectural Digest moment’. I love that.”
Rare times exist when a house doesn’t necessarily need to be staged.
“If it is an old house which has 1970s rustic furnishings in it, it may be better to empty the house than have furniture that makes the house feel dated,” Gemme states. “This is where your seasoned agent will advise you and hope to make your home the best presentation it can be.”
Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty real estate professional Breck Overall explains that while staging is important in marketing unique properties, if it’s a commodity property similar to many others on the market, it’s less critical.
“For example, condos in ski villages are similar enough to each other that staging is not necessary. However, in luxury homes (over $1M) we feel strongly that it is very important,” says Overall. “Staging is absolutely critical in dated homes that need to be remodeled. Fortunately, we have the technology and tools that allow owners to digitally stage/remodel their homes. We also work with local staging and interior design companies to help take this staging burden off the sellers. Digitally staging a home is cost effective and creates a great first impression online.”