Staging your House for Sale, by Fiora Aston

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In order to get top dollar for a home you are selling, just putting up a For Sale sign and hoping for the best probably won’t be enough. To showcase your home to its greatest advantage, consider investing the time and money in staging your home. A well-staged home gives potential buyers an idea of what THEIR lives will be like living in what has up until now been your home. When done correctly, it can increase a home’s selling price, and decrease the selling time.

Staging a home can be as simple as cleaning your house, editing and rearranging existing furniture, removing highly personal items like family photos, tossing out piles of newspapers and hiding the cat litter box. Think of this scenario as getting your home ready to host a big holiday party, or preparing for the arrival of long-term house guests. The cost to you could be your time, and/or perhaps $200-$500 to pay for a deep cleaning.

But Home Staging can also involve a more significant investment of money and planning – repainting in neutral color tones, replacing the old carpet, and installing new appliances. It might involve landscaping the garden and potentially even a new roof. Partial staging of only furniture can run in the $3,000-$12,000 range. Costs can rise depending on the size of the home, and complexity of repairs and improvements.

But this should not be overwhelming, or does not need to cost a lot. So what exactly SHOULD you do? And where do you start? Should you hire someone to stage your home, or can you do it yourself? And critically, do staged homes actually sell faster and for more money? I’ll answer these questions as we walk through the process.

Begin by consulting with your real estate agent. He or she will advise you on which important features will make your home appealing to the most serious buyers. I personally advise my clients. I have a very strong sense of design. It is easy to walk through the house with my clients pin-pointing what they can do to add the most value. Here is an example of an inexpensive, clever way to showcase the expensive, luxurious, one-of-a-kind designer tile-walled wine cellar at a luxury home I just sold North of Montana

I have many stories which demonstrate the value of staging. I will share two examples of homes I sold this year:

  1. A house in Santa Monica went unsold for 3 months with a different agent. The sellers called me. The minute I walked through the house I realized it would benefit from a new coat of paint. The dark yellow color, fashionable in the year 2000, no longer appeals to the contemporary buyer. The tone also made the house feel dark and small. So, my clients hired a painter to repaint the house all white. I helped them remove some furniture, and re-position a number of pieces to improve the flow of the house as buyers walked through, plus demonstrate interesting uses of some of the spaces. The house sold for full asking price its second day on the market.
  2. A house in Westwood went unsold for 5 months with a different agent. I suggested painting, removing some furniture, and hiring a professional staging company to complement the existing furniture with a few interesting statement pieces. The home sold for full asking price in its first week on the market.

Staging companies often have their own supplies – furniture, rugs, linens, art and accent pieces – eliminating the need for you to go shop for and buy new pieces only to stage your home. Importantly, they also provide objective insight – the best Stagers are experienced interior decorators, and know what inspires buyers today.

If you’re already strapped for cash, adding another expense may seem like an unnecessary luxury. But when you consider that many sellers of homes under $1million end up lowering their price about $5,000 to $10,000 from the original Listing Price, it could be worth it. Most estimates for staging a home of this size come in under this price difference.

You can typically find home-staging professionals through your real-estate agent or on the Internet. Just make sure they can supply credentials and multiple references. I know great Staging companies. Please do not hesitate to call me for referrals.

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