07 December 2012

DIY Staging Tips

Remember that extra post I promised weeks ago?

It's virtually impossible to know - for certain - how staging affects the sale of a house. After looking at a lot of houses and selling our old one, I thought I'd share some staging tips that I've picked up along the way.

At the old house, I gave the place an incredibly thorough clean and touched up all of the scratches and nicks in the paint, then I used my budget (set at a fraction of the professional stager's estimate) for furniture and accessories. To get things looking their best, we hired cleaners for the carpets, windows, roof, patio, and driveway. (If I'd known it was that inexpensive, I would have done it a lot more frequently when we lived there!)

Use furniture in places that need an explanation of how to use them or to show that specific furniture will fit (for example, bed in a small bedroom or dining table in small dining area). 

When buying furniture, try to find pieces that fit the space, appeal to a wide range of buyers, and (if possible) will be useful for you in the future.

Stage bedrooms that look too small for bedroom furniture or that look bigger with some furniture.  

Instead of lugging mattresses, use an inflatable mattresses (just remember to put a sign that tells potential buyers to not sit on the bed). 

Choose colors and accessories that appeal to both sexes and a variety of buyers and cultures. 

Add some candles and/or soaps to the bathroom to make them feel relaxing. 

Make a call on whether to use a shower curtain or get more visual space by removing it. 

Have hand towels in the bathroom because people will use the toilet, and you want them to be able to wash up. Make a call on bath towels - sometimes they make the room look complete and other times, they're distracting.

Stage areas to show their use and make potential buyers see themselves in the space.

Cover flaws so that potential buyers don't get distracted by them. In this room, the far corner is imperfect, and there is an ugly chimney cap behind the sofa. In the photo above this one, the poster in the hallway covers a blanking plate. 

Choose accessories that appeal to the type of buyers you expect will be interested; some examples for us were the chess board, gardening book, books in Spanish, South American art, and Asian-inspired art.

Use your own books and decorations to accessorize. Let the accessories bring in color without making the house too taste-specific.  

Some other tips for staging and generally putting a house on the market:

  • Less is more. Add enough furniture and accessories so that it feels natural and not like you're trying to hide something...but don't let it get cluttered. Hesitate before staging rooms that could have multiple uses because staging it one way could turn away buyers who'd be inclined to see the room otherwise if it were empty. 
  • Have a game plan for getting rid of the extra furniture...but don't empty the house until very close to closing, lest the deal falls through. 
  • Use new candles and fragrance defusers to keep an empty house smelling fresh without it looking like you're trying to hide something. 
  • Remove tools and do-it-yourself books out of the house lest potential buyers think there are on-going problems and/or that repairs/improvements were done yourself.
  • Put some baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer. No one likes stinky appliances.
  • Put a sign at the entryway asking people to remove their shoes. 
  • Make sure the house is really clean - inside and out, top to bottom. This is the time to have the oven, floors, roof, patio, and windows cleaned. 
  • If you have the exact paint match (color and sheen), touch up imperfections in the paint. No one will notice that you've done it, but they will notice if you haven't.

I'm obviously not so sold on staging that I was willing to hire a professional, but I think there are steps you can take to make your house more appealing than it would be otherwise...resulting in faster, higher offers. And who has a house on the market that they don't want to sell as soon as possible for top dollar?

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