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Staging and Simplifying before Selling your Home: What you need to know

Thanks to popular shows like Flip or Flop, home staging is often thought of as bringing in a team of designers to add furniture and decorations to an empty or flipped house, so buyers can more easily visualize themselves in the space. And while this is certainly a good idea for empty homes, for most people, as they prepare to list their homes for sale, having too little furniture or décor is not the problem. More commonly, I find that home staging and simplifying is important to simply eliminate anything distracting: anything which draws the buyers’ focus away from the selling features of your home.

My company’s staging approach is focused on removing the unnecessary (think excess furniture and belongings) and streamlining and tidying (think uncramping closets and reducing visual distractions). My process is to evaluate the whole home and create a master staging list – from there, the homeowner and/or I work to accomplish the “to-do” items to get the home ready for photography and showings. To really go above and beyond, painting, changing out light fixtures, or removing window treatments may be suggested – a few hundred dollar investment that may make thousands of difference.

Why bother staging? (“It’s a seller’s market!”)

According to One Key MLS, “On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged ones - and most frequently are sold at closer to their asking price.” Even in a “seller’s market”, a home that is well staged and groomed before listing will fetch much more interest, traffic and potentially $$ than one that is not listed “as-is”.

Photo: Three Sixty Views; Staging: Simplify Buffalo

Goals of Staging

Accentuate the positives

I recently worked on staging a historic farmhouse, which the owners had lived in for 30+ years. Naturally, there were 30 years’ worth of belongings and personality filling this home to the brim. It wasn’t until I forced myself to visualize the home without the belongings that I could see and appreciate the beautiful hardwood floors, thick trim, door casings, historic windows and custom built-ins! All the clutter distracts from these key selling features – which are what a buyer wants to see if they’re considering a historic farmhouse. You want to make it as easy as possible for the buyers to “see” the potential – you don’t want to make them strain to imagine it.

Make your home feel aspirational

…Including the insides of cabinets and closets. The reaction we are going for is “wow”. From their first step in the door, you want buyers to have an overall positive impression. Adding on to that, if they open cabinets, closets or pantries and see beautifully, organized spaces, they will subconsciously imagine themselves having beautifully organized closets and pantries when they live there too!

Cater to the buyer’s imagination

...Not your reality. Helping a buyer see themselves in your home means not only removing your personal mementos that will distract them, but also your assumptions about how the space should be used. Not everyone will need a pink nursery or has pets or is even a coffee drinker – creating more of a “blank slate” will help the maximum number of people imagine their future use of the room.

Make it feel bigger.

It’s like makeup contouring, but for your house. Removing excess furniture pieces, accessories, or rearranging furniture can make rooms photograph bigger and feel better for walk-throughs. Lightening up the quantity of items in closets and cabinets will show storage potential, not storage shortages. No one wants to buy a house that feels cramped and crowded before they even move in!

How to stage your home:

Make sure to follow my 6 Simple Tips to stage and simplify your house before sale – these will get you on the right track and in the right mindset to see your house from a buyer’s point of view. It can also be tremendously helpful to take pictures of your space – then look at them – and see what the first thing you notice is. Is it the furniture, artwork or accessories? Or is it the beautiful hardwood floors, thick trim and big windows? We are going for the latter!

Photo: Three Sixty Views; Staging: Simplify Buffalo

You can DIY, so why hire a professional?

You want your home to be attention-grabbing from the online listing – and NOT because you have bright blue walls or a large doll collection. Hiring a professional to help you with your home staging is an investment worth considering: in most cases, a few hundred dollars of staging can translate into thousands of dollars for your sale price. The last home I staged sold in just a few days, for $25k over an already solid asking price!

Concisely, here are 3 reasons:

  1. A professional brings an objective eye to the space. We “see” your space through a fresh set of eyes – the same eyes your buyer will see it with. We may suggest changes that didn’t even cross your mind!

  2. You’re busy! Especially at a time where you are going through a life transition like moving! Most likely you are searching for or improving your new home, and the last thing you have time for is spending hours trying to guess what to do to get your home ready to sell. I take the guess-work and hard work out of it.

  3. We know how to efficiently tidy and organize spaces to make them function and feel better. I do this for a living and can look at a pantry or closet and almost instantly see how to thin out and optimize the space with simple changes. What may be stressful for you, is fun for me.

Have you ever sold a home before? How much work did you put into getting it ready to sell? What was the most impactful change you made? Do you wish you’d done it sooner?

Photo & Staging: Simplify Buffalo

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