Practically everyone these days is familiar with the concept of “staging” a house in hopes of selling it quicker at a higher price. But as a real estate broker I find that my clients and I are not always in agreement about how much staging a house requires, or even about what constitutes staging.
Does it mean slapping a coat of paint on everything? Does it mean renting high-end furniture? Changing all the lighting? Calling a landscaper to install flower beds and gurgling water features in the yard? Does it mean spending tens of thousands of dollars?
Home Staging can mean any of those things, but it certainly doesn’t have to include all of them. Some sellers have a misconception that they will be able to hand their home over to a stager for a day and he or she will be able to turn it into a magazine spread. Sadly, even if you’re prepared to spend money, it’s not that simple.
The reason is that every house needs one thing before the stager can really get going, and that is: a good de-clutter. When sellers ask me what they can do to get their homes ready for the market, that’s the first thing I tell them. Often they’ve already done a good clean and tidy before having me over; still, there’s almost always a feeling of “too much stuff”.
What I tell clients is, there’s the way we live in our houses, and there’s the way we present our houses for sale, and they are not the same. It’s not my place to tell a client they can’t keep grandma’s silver tea service or Junior’s bottle cap collection, but I can suggest that most of the tchotchkes go into storage before the house goes on the market.
I used to be more laid back about this stuff. I thought it was nice to see framed family photographs and shelves stuffed with books. I gave buyers credit for being able to look past personal items and see the bones of the house. I have learned that there are individuals who can do that, but that they are in the minority.
Buyers, even those with a fondness for older properties, want to see clean lines. They want to see that a house has storage space, but it’s no good when that space is full to overflowing.
In conclusion, the first two rules of staging are:
2) De-clutter some more.
We'll get to the backyard fountains in another post.