Styled, Staged & Sold
The following section has been reprinted with permission from stager Tori Toth’s new book, “Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell” (Morgan James Publishing, 2015). Toth is the owner of Stylish Stagers Inc. in New York.
Every room has positive and negative features; it’s what you do with those features that can make a buyer excited about your space. In any room of the house there should be a dramatic focal point that attracts your eye, but is that focal point pleasing to the eye? Does it have a positive connotation or a negative one?
Here’s a list of some positive features you may have in your home:
- Large Front Yard
- Landscaping/Sprinkler Systems
- Two-Car Garage
- Swimming Pool
- Outdoor Living Area
- Outdoor View
- Energy-Efficient Windows/Insulation/Appliances
- Picture Windows/Sliding or French Doors
- Grand Foyer
- Wood Floors
- Built-in Shelving
- Hi-Hat Lighting/Fans/Chandeliers
- Lots of Storage Space/Closets
- Kitchen with Island
- Home Office
- Master Suite with Spa-Like Bathroom
- Large Rooms
- Family Room or Additional Great Room
- Open Layout
- Finished Basement
These are just a few of the positive features buyers look for in a new home. If you have these types of features in your home, guess what? You’re one step closer to the closing table because you already own what buyers are looking for. Now you just have to make sure they notice those features.
Here’s a list of some negative features, or basically anything that is an eyesore, a needed repair, or an imperfection you can’t change.
- Location of Home
- Uninviting Curb Appeal
- No Garage
- Unappealing or No Landscape
- Peeling Exterior Paint/Bad Paint Colors
- Old Roof
- Old Windows/Doors
- Small or Awkward Layout
- Outdated Kitchen and Bathrooms
- Small Bedrooms
- Limited Ceiling Lighting
- Structural Problems
- Electrical/Plumbing Problems
Some of these negative features can have a real impact on whether the buyer makes an offer or not, and if an offer is made how much will they take off the sales price to budget in improving these features? Some features are just out of your control; for instance, the location of your home is impossible to change.
So, in order to make sure these positive features get noticed, we have to downplay the negative aspects of the space. Stylish Stagers staged a co-op apartment in Kew Gardens that is a great example of this. The space was average; nothing really grabbed the buyer’s attention. And while the apartment was large, the seller’s belongings were scattered everywhere. This picture was their living room before we staged the space. What attracts your eye? Is it positive or negative?
The orange focal wall stands out and says, “look at me,” but there is nothing there to look at. While the window is large and bright, the curtains are less than attractive. The paint color also directs your eye to that door in the corner. This door had caused many headaches for the sellers because it’s a door to nowhere. They’d been on the market for a year before calling us, and the sellers said, “Every time a buyer comes in they question that door.” So we knew we’d need to come up with a solution. Take a look at what we did.
Our company painted the room a comfy beige, removed their window treatment, and added curtains from floor to ceiling, flanking the picture window. Then we extended the fabric to cover the doorway. Presto, the door to nowhere is now nowhere to be found. We also switched the furniture layout so that when you walked through the front door into the room you saw the couch rather than the entertainment center. As you can see, by painting, decluttering, rearranging, and adding some modern accessories by taking a cue from mother nature, we were able to update this two-bedroom, two-bath co-op and highlight many of the space’s positive areas, such as picture windows, spacious layout, and wood floors.
“Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell” (Morgan James Publishing, 2015) by Tori Toth
By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
Staging your home involves creating an environment that house hunters can envision themselves living in and can help to facilitate a speedy sale and for top dollar. Quite simply, if potential buyers don’t feel an emotional connection with your home, they won’t feel like they belong there and they’ll be inclined to look elsewhere.
That said, why would home owners make the selling process more difficult for themselves by choosing NOT to stage their property in order to make the best impression? The following are some misconceptions that sellers have about home staging.
1. It’s too expensive.
Staging is an investment in getting a house sold for top dollar and always less than the first price reduction on a home. According to the Association of Staging Professionals (ASP), 95 percent of staged homes sell in 11 days or less and sell for 17 percent more than homes that are not staged. When compared with the carrying costs of a home that lags on the market (monthly mortgage, utilities, landscaping/snow removal, etc.), the cost of staging is far less.
2. Our home has been professionally decorated.
Decorating and staging are completely different. Although home owners may love the way their house looks and it suits their needs perfectly, it may not appeal to the tastes and style of today’s buyers. An accredited home stager has the experience and objectivity to prepare a home for mass appeal in the current marketplace to engage as many buyers as possible — no matter what their personal style.
3. We don’t need a stager to declutter and clean.
Although these may seem like easy tasks, there is a lot of emotion that goes into depersonalizing a home after so many years of accumulating personal belongings. An accredited stager will provide a detailed action plan to neutralize and remove any items that will distract from the home’s features to get the house sold.
4. We can’t stage the house if we’re living in it.
Staging is absolutely not just for vacant homes. Every home can be staged while it’s occupied and a professional stager will provide home owners with tips for keeping the home in show-ready condition while the home is on the market — and still feel comfortable in their own home.
5. We can wait and then stage later if needed.
There is a lot of truth to the popular phrase “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” If you don’t stage before you list, you will inevitably lose time and money.
6. Staging won’t hide all the problems.
Before beginning the staging process, sellers should address basic repairs such as leaky faucets and broken lights first so buyers won’t have a reason to turn away as soon as they walk into a home. Once this is done, a staging company will handle superficial imperfections such as repainting walls and removing outdated wallpaper to make the home aesthetically inviting and comfortable.
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. Patti 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 the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Home owners continue to invest in their kitchens but cooking appears to be coming in secondary to the design of the space, according to the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey which focused on kitchen and bath design trends.
“The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. ”Rather, home owners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.”
Many of the architect respondents surveyed by AIA noted the revival of kitchen as the “hearth” of the home in the traditional sense: for family gathering, for entertaining, and for daily activities.
Indeed, the kitchen has become the “activator” – the main space in a residence and a center of operations in a home, says James Walbridge, chair of AIA’s custom residential architects network.
“The design requirements often include high functionality to accommodate multiple activities,” Walbridge says. “The aesthetics of the kitchen have also changed as the composition and material selections have elevated the space to become an essential focal point of the total design.”Traditional Kitchen by Tampa Interior Designers & Decorators Paul Anater
The following are some of the most popular kitchen products and features identified by architects in the latest AIA survey:
- LED lighting
- Computer area/recharging station
- Larger pantry space
- Upper-end appliances
- Double island
- Adaptability/universal design
- Drinking water filtration systems
As for bathroom remodeling, accessibility requirements and energy efficiency are driving more household redesigns. The survey identified the following popular bathroom products and features:
- LED lighting
- Doorless showers
- Adaptability/universal design
- Large walk-in showers
- Stall shower without tub
- Water saving toilets
- Radiant heated floors
By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource
Sometimes it can be a challenge convincing the home seller to use a certified staging professional so I created some visuals using the latest, 2014-2015 statistics to assist agents in getting the point across to their clients. Professional home staging is not only for homes that are a “mess” but it also makes a huge difference in the selling price for homes that are “typical”.
In fact, statistics show that it doesn’t matter whether the home is vacant, occupied, a fixer or a beauty — when a certified staging professional gets a hold of it, an average 10 percent better sales price can be expected!
Sellers can be nervous that the stager is going to tell them to make expensive improvements to the home, but the reality is that only improvements that will have a BIG IMPACT on buyers and a good return on investment will be recommended. That same home staging survey of over 3,500 homes sold showed an average 1000 percent return on investment when the seller spent a mere 1 percent of the value of their home.
OK, so maybe spending an extra $20 to wash your car before selling it is not worth the $200 more you got in price BUT the $4,000 you spent on staging your $400,000 home is probably worth the $40,000 on average return you will see over your neighbor who did nothing…especially if the $40,000 is tax free!
Staging has always had an impact on the speed of sale, but in this market, I think it’s wise to be the agent known for getting top dollar for your clients, not just a speedy sale. In fact, the savvy seller is wise to the agent who prices low and sells quickly compared to the agent who is pricing right and getting top dollar. In my neighborhood, where everyone is on a “Google group” chatting, the agent who took a bit longer to sell a home (3 weeks) but made the neighbor $85,000 over what the “quick sale” agent got another neighbor, is definitely the agent all my neighbors are going to use! Those poor agents had no idea we were commenting on their performance but I don’t think my neighborhood is all that unusual…do you?
Every agent knows that the moment their buyer is visualizing themselves in the home, the offer comes next. Why? Because people buy on emotion and being able to “see” your family living in the space is essential!
What’s the point in hiring a professional photographer if the room is not completely dialed in? The combination of staged room and professional photos really connect with potential buyers online. In fact, there are many folks “considering” a move but won’t pull the trigger till they see the right home online. Don’t you want to be the agent to get that first phone call about your listing?
The seller that thinks they can stage their home themselves has no idea of the impossibility of that process. I’ve been staging and training for more than 12 years and still brought in two certified staging professionals before I sold my home. Why? Because I know that staging my own home is like asking me to be objective about my children. Our homes are filled with the emotions of living there and the items we’ve purchased on emotion, so how can we possibly be objective about merchandising each space?
I have to admit; even this latest 2015 NAR statistic on home staging surprised me! You mean even if the home is on a busy street, backs up to the dump or has a tiny backyard almost a third of buyers will overlook those faults in favor of staging? Just kidding but you get the idea! Sometimes there are problems with the property that just can’t be fixed by staging but can be alleviated.
Did you know that “Moving” was listed as a top five most stressful event in a person’s life? In order, “Death of a Loved One”, “Divorce”, “Moving”, “Major Illness”, and “Job Loss” were the biggest, most stressful events in people’s lives. Even if you were moving up, it’s considered highly stressful!
The whole point to staging is to help the seller get packing early, organized for showing their home on the fly and helping them have the peace of mind of getting the best price.
We are really getting close to No. 1 now! With No. 2, most experts agree that staging is a critical necessity to selling successfully in the 2015 market. I know it’s frustrating for agents to convince sellers to use a professional stager. According to Zillow, staging was listed as the second most critical action item for the seller to do when selling their home, so letting them know this statistic by real estate experts is a good one!
Drum roll please…..
I love this reason because at the end of the day, staging benefits the home seller more than anyone else….not the agent…not the stager. While the agent and stager are invested in helping the seller get the most money from the sale of their home, if the seller just doesn’t want to listen, then so be it. The seller doesn’t have to do anything…but there are consequences which are usually doled out in the form of price reductions. Don’t help to see your competition when all you need to do is hire a professional home stager!
If you’re a real estate agent, feel free to share this, pin the images and send them to your sellers. I’ve also created a one-minute YouTube Video that you can share or embed on your site to get the point across to your seller.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president of the Home Staging Resource, a RESA Accredited home staging training and certification company. Slinkey has personally trained over 3,000 stagers worldwide and is a bestselling author and international speaker. She also serves as president of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners. Connect with her on Facebook!
You may field such cost questions from potential buyers, and some new online resources may help you gather quotes for your buyers in a hurry — or at least give you a resource to point them to. For example, HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide can provide visitors with an idea of what they can expect to pay for projects in their area.
At the site, users plug in the project they want to complete, along with their ZIP code. The tool then will list the average cost of the home improvement project or repair in their area based on what others have paid. You can see a breakdown of cost estimates from the low to high end as well as average. The site offers a searchable database to gather estimates for more than 300 types of home projects and repairs, whether your buyer wants to find the average cost of remodeling a bathroom, painting the home’s exterior, installing new windows or countertops, or more.
Another cost estimating site, called Fixr, also offers estimates on various home improvement and remodeling projects — just plug in the project and find estimated costs as well as get access to a list of contractors in your area. The site also features cost guides to give you an overview of the price of tackling projects like kitchen and basement remodels as well as the costs of repairing siding, installing new windows, adding a porch or swimming pool, and more.
This allows home buyers to decide if the repair or renovation is within their budget, if they opt to buy the home. The tools may also come in handy for sellers in deciding whether they should invest in fix ups prior to listing their home for sale.