What is home staging and why is it so important to you as a soon-to-be seller? Well, when you put your house on the market for a prospective home buyer, your property is taking center stage for all intents and purposes. Like the protagonist in a major motion picture or a Tony Award-winning actress on Broadway, appearances matter when your house is being judged for its overall quality. How – or to what degree – it resonates with a given home buyer or audience is largely a product of how it performs under the proverbial limelight.
Do you know what it takes to increase your house’s curb appeal? Is your living room set up in a manner that would catch the eye of a potential homebuyer? Should furniture be included in your pictures, or is it better for each room to stand on its own and clutter-free?
These questions and more are all part of the home staging process, which, admittedly, is not exactly a one-and-done effort. If you’re selling your house but don’t want to deal with sprucing it up as a home stager, you don’t have to – you can sell directly to Bungalo®, even if your house isn’t exactly dressed to the nines. If you are thinking about doing at least some home staging or assuming the role of home stager on a temporary basis, we’ll go over some tips that can help speed things along, adding a sense of urgency for your potential buyer or buyers. But first, it’s important to understand why home staging is so important.
What is the No. 1 purpose of home staging?
There are a number of reasons why home staging makes sense, but the overarching goal – whether you hire a professional stager or tackle the task yourself – is to make it more universally attractive. Whether you’ve been at your current home for a few years or decades, you probably spent a good portion of those years “making it your own,” perhaps by buying comfortable furniture for the living room or reviving the dining room with an elegant chandelier, placed squarely above the dining room table. Home staging, on the other hand, involves the active depersonalizing of the house so it draws more attention to all comers and all tastes.
The typical house in today’s red hot real estate market sells rather quickly. According to the National Association of Realtors, the average is less than three weeks (17 days), as of July 2021. In fact, of all the properties that sold during that period, nearly 90% were up for sale for less than a month.
At the same time, the entire home buying process often takes as much as six months, according to the Home Buying Institute, if not longer. Home staging helps to give your house the legs it needs to remain attractive to a potential buyer from the first day they notice it to the day before closing. Every room of the house should receive as much attention and tender loving care as the next, be it the living room, dining room, bedroom – even the mudroom.
But another selling point on home staging is the financial element. In the National Association of Realtors’ latest Profile of Home Staging report, which interviewed real estate agent respondents, 1 in 4 buyers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value offered on for-sale houses by between 1% and 5% compared to those who didn’t go about this process. And 15% said offers were 6% to 10% higher for staged versus non-staged homes.
What does home staging involve?
Home staging can be as minimalist or as all-inclusive as you want it to be. Much of the work that you devote to this effort is dependent on the condition of the house as it’s currently constituted. For example, if there is a gaping hole in the wall or noticeable scratches on the front door that would show up in photos, home staging may require hiring a home renovation expert to make the repairs or replacing components of the house. But work as a stager doesn’t necessarily have to be extensive, either. It could be devoted to eliminating clutter that’s accumulated, whether that’s in the living room, dining room or parts of the house that are renowned for clutter, like the attic or basement.
Decluttering may be the single most important component to successful home staging. Nearly 95% of real estate agent respondents in the aforementioned NAR survey said eliminating clutter was crucial to preparing a home for sale. The next most common response was cleaning each room (83%).
From rearranging furniture to painting the walls, home staging activities come in all shapes and sizes.
Now that you know the purpose of home staging, let’s get into a few tips and suggestions. If done right, they can lead to a quicker sale:
1. Build up curb appeal by addressing exterior issues
Before you get to each room, start by assessing how your house looks on the outside. Especially if you’re scheduling an open house, the very first thing a would-be buyer sees is its exterior. So, you want to make the best first impression you can right off the bat. Take an honest assessment of how your home looks. What can you do to make it look like new? Is it in need of a fresh coat of paint? Could the bushes around your property use some pruning to make them more symmetrical? Maybe the house has accumulated dirt that entails a water pressure treatment from a professional.
All these actions help to ratchet up your home’s curb appeal.
2. Clean, clean and then clean some more
Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer: How would you feel if the house you wanted to buy was a pigsty? It’d be a major dealbreaker, especially if the lack of cleanliness was apparent in the pictures.
Getting your house truly clean goes deeper than once-over vacuuming, putting your kids’ toys away and scrubbing the toilets. In other words, not the household chores you do weekly or every other week. It should involve the activities that take time and elbow grease. This may include washing the walls (like you would before painting), mopping the floors, removing accumulated cobwebs and dusting the blinds and lampshades.
In short, you want it to be so clean that you wouldn’t think twice about eating food off the floor.
3. Give the kitchen its due attention
Speaking of food, of all the rooms in the average house, the room where meals are made is the most visited. In many home setups, the kitchen is also one of the first rooms people see as they step inside. And given that so much activity occurs there, it’s the one that you should prioritize as a stager. 80% of buyers’ agents in the NAR survey pointed to the kitchen as the most common place to receive the home staging treatment. And among buyers themselves, 35% said staging the kitchen was very important to them.
Here as well, the extent of your staging efforts is up to you. But if you want to kick things up a notch by going beyond cleaning and eliminating clutter, you may want to give your cabinets a fresh coat of paint, replacing the countertops if they’re damaged or even replacing the faucet and fixtures. Even swapping out the knobs on the cabinets can go a long way.
4. Aim for minimalism
Over the course of your tenure as a homeowner, you’ve undoubtedly collected lots of stuff, much of which may be out in the open, such as furniture or electronics. When taking photographs, you may want to remove some of these items. This accomplishes a few things. For one, it helps to further the decluttered look of your living room (assuming that’s where the furniture is located). It also makes rooms appear larger than they do with items taking up space. Finally, a minimalist look depersonalizes each space so a potential buyer can picture in their mind’s eye how they would fill the space should they decide to make an offer.
If you’re unsure of what furniture should stay put or removed, you may want to ask a professional stager for their two cents on the subject. They may recommend keeping certain furniture but repositioning them in such a way that it makes the room look more open. Other strategies that work well are hanging drapes or curtains that match the walls and ensuring that they’re in the open positions to let more light in.
5. Take lots of pictures from worthwhile locations
Open houses and personalized tours allow a potential buyer to get a better sense and feel for what your home is like, but it traditionally starts with point-and-click investigation on home listing websites and mobile apps. Photographs are as must-have as a property’s advertised price. No one is going to buy real estate that they can’t see.
With cameras built into phones, photo-taking has never been easier, so it’s worth your while to take as many pictures as you can of each room and from different angles. Ideally, you want a potential buyer to get a full account of what each room looks like so once you snap a picture from one part of the room, you may want to stand on the opposite side so you can showcase where you just came from.
However, there is such a thing as having too many photos. So rather than pointing the camera on a fixed area – like one wall – position yourself so the viewer will be able to see several walls, ideally three.
Another best practice to home staging picture-taking is to capture stills from locations as you would normally see them. Perhaps in the past you’ve liked how your house looked while standing on a chair or stepladder for painting. But it’s better to take pictures from areas that a potential buyer would normally be in were they to step into the room. That generally means from a standing or seated position.
If photography isn’t for you, hiring a professional who specializes in this kind of thing might be worthwhile.
6. Put together a home staging budget
As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money, and that adage applies to selling a home. Some of what you spend may be during closing, at the very end of the process. But depending on how much work your house needs to get looking spiffy, it could start at the very beginning.
If you need work done on the property, get quotes about what each task costs. Some you may be able to do yourself. However, bear in mind that the cost could be significant, especially if you use a professional stager. According to the aforementioned NAR report, the median amount spent for a professional stager or home staging firm is $1,500.
Home staging is important, but it’s also a hassle. If you want to skip it entirely, look to Bungalo. When you sell to Bungalo, we not only buy in cash but we eliminate the traditional selling steps, such as staging and scheduling home tours. That saves you the two most precious assets: time and money.
For more information on our no-obligation cash offers, contact us today.
This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.