If you’re just starting to think about putting your home on the market, you may be fretting about the amount of work and money it takes to get it ready to show. Our rational minds know it’s about getting top dollar for your home, and of course buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home.
In the real estate business, getting your home ready to show is called staging. Staging doesn’t have to be as elaborate or expensive as it is on some popular reality television shows. In fact, a little elbow grease can go a long way when it comes to selling your home – and selling it quickly.
The Case For Staging
The National Association of REALTORS® conducts periodic surveys of real estate agents to gauge their opinions on a variety of real estate topics. In March 2019, it released its Profile of Home Staging, which revealed a mixed bag of sentiment toward the importance of home staging.
Seller’s Agent Perspective
Only 28% of seller’s agents routinely stage all homes prior to listing, while 13% only stage the homes that they feel really need it. The agents surveyed reported that the average staging budget was $400.
Among those agents who staged at home, 22% of seller’s agents reported an increase of 1% – 5% of the dollar value offered by buyers in comparison to similar homes, while 17% of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home 6% – 10%. That means that if your home is worth $500,000 and in reasonably good condition, you can expect to increase your sales price by around 5%, or $25,000.
Buyer’s Agent Perspective
For buyer’s agents, there seems to be more of a consensus that staging has a positive effect on prospective buyers. According to the same NAR profile, 83% of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Interestingly, only 25% of buyer’s agents felt that staging translated into a higher price paid. That might reflect the fact that, with most real estate reporting seller’s market conditions, sellers don’t need to go overboard with staging to get top dollar for their homes.
13 Tips For Staging A Home On A Budget
Staging can mean different things to different people. Some people think they need to redo their entire home before listing, but that’s usually only necessary if, for example, your kitchen is extremely outdated. Your best resource on what you must do is your real estate agent. Here are the top suggestions you will likely hear from your agent.
An agent’s No. 1 piece of advice will likely be to declutter. Get rid of anything that you really don’t need and pack up and store everything else. Ideally, you’ll be able to store your belongings off-site, but it’s fine to pack up boxes or bins and leave them neatly stacked in a garage. You don’t want to blow a hole in your budget by renting a storage space unless there really is no other option.
2. Deep Clean
Get a professional cleaning crew in to do a deep clean of your home, eliminating all traces of human habitation and pet smells. Professionals know the tricks of the trade that can make your home smell and sparkle like a luxury hotel.
3. Remove Yourself From The Home
You’ll want to pack up all things personal and display only neutral items. Remember, the main goal of staging your home is for prospective buyers to see themselves living there, and to get them thinking about the changes they’d like to make. That’s harder to do when your family pictures adorn the walls.
4. Narrow Your Focus
In the NAR profile, real estate agents say the living room is the most important room of the house to stage, followed by the primary bedroom and then the kitchen. Staging the living room is a matter of arranging your furniture to suggest the proper focal points and conversational areas. Along with some neutral pops of color in the form of pillows or a throw blanket, that should be sufficient to maximize the potential.
5. Let There Be Adequate Lighting
Lighting is the unsung hero of interior design. Allowing as much natural light in as possible is key, along with making sure your bulbs are all burning brightly at 100 watts. Ample lighting makes homes look bigger, and makes it easier for buyers to get a good look at your home.
6. Consider A Virtual Staging
In 2020, the real estate industry embraced new technology rarely used previously. Buyers seeking a new home, hampered by social distancing requirements, often had no choice but to rely on online listings, virtual tours and video. These are now standard, and you, too, can use technology to your advantage.
Virtual staging allows sellers to use photographic enhancement to show your home in its best light. Skilled designers with experience in the graphic arts can virtually transform your home into a showcase for online viewing. Buyers can see for themselves what the room looks like after old wallpaper is stripped and the walls are painted a clean white.
Your real estate agent can help you decide how important online sales are in your market.
7. Splurge On Photography
To show your home well online, you’ll need top-notch photography. There are photographers who specialize in taking the best possible pictures of your real estate. There are even aerial photography services that can give buyers a more realized sense of your neighborhood. Of course, sellers must disclose the true condition of their home to buyers but being able to show how renovations will transform the space can make all the difference to some prospective buyers.
8. Accent The Focal Points
When preparing for your open house, it’s important to draw the eyes of agents and buyers to the best features of your home. Placing a plant in a well-lit corner of a room draws the eye to the sunbeams. If you’re worried that all that decluttering and cleaning has left the space looking bland, think about painting an accent wall in a bright color to really pop.
9. Paint It White
If you have the time or money to get your home painted, it’s probably worthwhile, especially in the entryway and the main rooms. A fresh coat of paint punches above its weight in bang for the buck. Make sure to pick a light neutral – perhaps just white – to brighten and open the space.
10. Place Pleasant Scents
Reed diffusers, scented soaps and air fresheners are vital to keeping a home from smelling stale or musty. They have the added benefit of being affordable decor pieces for bathrooms and kitchens.
11. Make A Good First Impression
The entryway is key to making a good first impression. Make sure your front steps and door are freshly painted, and that the welcome mat looks clean and inviting. A few welcoming touches in the foyer, like a small wreath, a mirror and a bench can put buyers at ease as they enter your home.
12. Showcase The Kitchen
If you’re still living in the home as it’s being shown, keeping the kitchen ready to show at a moment’s notice can be a challenge. Buyers want to see a sparkly clean kitchen, preferably one that smells of lemons and not last night’s fish. Be sure to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher and clean out the refrigerator before any potential buyers stop by.
Buyers want the kitchen to feel functional and welcoming. Decorative bins or glass filled with colorful pastas are easy ways of adding color and functionality. Fresh kitchen towels can add pops of color as well.
13. Reveal The Primary Bedroom
The primary bedroom tends to be the most personal to both buyers and sellers. Obviously, the bed will be the focal point, so make sure it is immaculately made, with matching pillows and bedding. You might want to invest in a bed-in-a-bag if what you’re using now is looking a bit shabby.
Leave a few items in your closets so that buyers can imagine their clothing hanging there, but make sure not to leave them too full. If your space is too small for your stuff, it might be inadequate for theirs, too.
The Bottom Line: Staging Is Important, But You Don’t Have To Go Overboard
Decluttering, cleaning and brightening your home will help you show it at its best. Your real estate agent knows what buyers are looking for where you live, and they will tell you what you need to do to get ready to show.
Interested in more information on home staging? Read our complete guide to staging a home next.