Why is staging so important?
Staging started with something very simple, like baking cookies before an open house. It's all about making the home as attractive as possible to the broadest range of potential buyers. I think of it as a form of subliminal marketing. The realtor handles all the external marketing, and you need to do the things inside your home that will help it sell faster and for more money.
Now that staging has become a household word the bar has been raised and buyers expect your home to be presented in its most favourable light. There's no going back! Every room, including the outdoors in any season, your garageand your closets must be staged to a certain degree.
In some areas, a complete overhaul is required in order to keep up with the competition. In other areas, simply cleaning and de-cluttering will do the trick.
Rules to stage by:
- Decorate for your soul, stage for your sale. Staging is the opposite of decorating. The whole premise is to encourage the buyers to envision their own lives in your home. If your personality is too strong it will overwhelm them and they will judge their lifestyle against yours, and they may decide that this is a home for a different demographic than theirs. For example, imagine a guy viewing a home done in Laura Ashley print and pastels with bunnies and decorated straw hats everywhere. Nope, not gonna happen for him. He won't be able to get the vibe he needs to make him believe that this could be the house for him. Even the strongest realtor will have a hard time trying to convince him to look past the bunnies.
- Use rooms for their intended purpose. If a three bedroom home has a bed on the master, an office in bedroom #2 and an exercise room in bedroom #3, a piano in the dining room and no kitchen table in the breakfast nook, a family of three will likely bypass your home, thinking that it's not right for them. Every bedroom should have an appropriately sized bed in it, maybe a dresser, and not much else i.e. no computer, desk, treadmill, boxes etc.
- Ditch the clutter. Too many things in a closet or on a counter top will also send the message that there is not enough storage.
- Make sure the place is immaculate. If you don't clean, and I mean CLEAN, in addition to de-cluttering and fixing big and small issues, your potential buyers may get the impression that the home has not been well looked after and that can lead them to believe that there could be a lot of things wrong with the house, and that it may need all kinds of expensive repairs. That can definitely scare them off. They may go for a well staged home because they will get the feeling that the homeowners have treated it with great care. They feel that the house is worth more money because it will cost them less in repairs down the road. Besides that, they can see themselves living there, and that is priceless.
What's a reasonable amount of money to spend per room?
It's more about the entire home. The general rule it to spend about 1% of the value of the home. For a $400,000 home you should spend around $4000. That includes bringing in staging furniture, painting, cleaning, storing, fixing, landscaping and so on.
Is the goal to go neutral or to incorporate the latest trends, like wallpaper?
A bit of both works well. The latest, newest, funkiest trend will only work for certain demographics. I say go go mainstream - use what has been trending for a while now. For example, you can still do the dark espresso-colored wood furniture. Even though the designers have moved away from that, the majority of people are not up to date with the latest trend and it will lend a comfortable yet contemporary feel.
Although wallpaper has enjoyed a comeback over the last several years, the average buyer cringes when they see it on walls. To them it represents a ton of work. Steven and Chris and I know that is not true and, personally, I love to see an accent wall done in paper, but we have to pander to the most common perception. Neutral contemporary colours tend to be a safe bet.
Now, on an individual level, if your home is in a very trendy area and you are staging for a particular demographic you can use a really funky wall treatment, even stone as an example, and get the desired results.
Is it okay to use inexpensive furniture?
Absolutely! I do hate to waste though, and buying inexpensive new stuff may mean that you toss it out later, which contributes to landfills and is bad for the environment and your pocket book.
But speaking of trends, reclaimed and repurposed stuff is so in that you can search around for some great finds.
But my number one piece of advice is: use a professional stager. They have a warehouses full of the right furniture and accessories to do the job right and it will cut down on the waste. It's also kind of nice to stand back and watchthem work and worry over "this lamp or that". A large portion of your budget will go toward their fee, but is definitely worth it!
In your experience, how much can proper staging increase the sale price of your home?
There are some stats out there but it's hard to determine, except for within specific neighbourhoods. In my neighbourhood even a "tear down" would sell for tens of thousands more with the right staging.
Put it this way: if your home looks unclean, cluttered, disorganized, outdated, flamboyant or tired, you have cost yourself thousands by not staging. It will sit on the market for a longer period of time than the staged competition, stigmatizing your home and resulting in a price reduction. No seller wants to hear "we have to lower the price".
It's worth getting your realtor to advise you on this. You don't want to over spend or under stage. Do it right and reap the rewards!"
Irfan Amjad (Hussein)
*Sources: http://www.cbc.ca/stevenandchris/2011/06/best-staging-advice-for-home-sellers.html, http://www.presstaging.com/images/before-after-staging.jpg,http://www.presstaging.com/images/before-after-redesign.jpg, and http://www.presstaging.com/images/sitting-rm-before-after.jpg