The Art of…Staging your Home for Sale

Raise your hand if this is you:  You set aside some quiet time, just a little, at the end of the day, or maybe in the half hour before school lets out, to flip through (literally or digitally) your favorite home magazine: Dwell, Elle Décor, California Home, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest – you get the picture – to catch up on the latest trends and styles, maybe pick up some ideas and tips, learn of this season’s “it” color scheme. You notice how stylish, clean and comfortable each room is, how everything is in its place, perhaps you even imagine yourself living there.  You jump onto Pinterest and start pinning like mad; the colors, the styles, the cabinets, the landscaping the architecture, the accessories…everything you want in your next home.

My hand is in the air, high and proud. Guilty as charged. Seriously, I have more than 8,900 pins on 47 boards to prove it (@melissamenardLA).

And then reality sets in. The dog barks, the kids come home from school like little tornados, dinner still needs to get prepped…the list goes on, because our lives go on. What we see in magazines and photos, that’s not how people live. Whether you’re a family of 5 with 2 pets, a tech savvy bachelor (read between the lines, Mr. Sofa with a JumboTron on a milk crate), the single cat lady with 3 litter boxes and a family room made of cat trees, or empty nesters proud of the family you’ve raised in your “never had time to update” home for the last 30 years, your home isn’t “camera ready.” You simply don’t “live” in a house the same way you “sell” in a house.

A professional stager can turn any space, no matter how small, cavernous, awkwardly shaped, poorly lit, or dismal the view, and turn it into a comfortable home that buyers are able to envision themselves living in.

The point is we all love the images in those magazines and the emotional bond it creates. They’re not just selling the sofa or the latest color scheme. They’re selling a lifestyle.  This is why the staged homes that hit the market go quickly – they’re buttoned up and ready for buyers to move into. There’s no guesswork as to where to put the sofa or the bed – the staging has provided the vision. This, my friends, is why staging a home for sale is a masterstroke and part of the winning strategy I employ with many of my clients for garnering the highest price with optimum terms. That’s because I sell more than just homes, I sell a lifestyle. Regardless of the price point and regardless of the location.

Isn’t it interesting though, that when buyers shop for homes, what they expect to see every time they walk through the front door is a magazine spread? They’re looking for more than a home, they want to buy a lifestyle.

Points to Consider

Cost vs. Return – Obviously, there is a cost associated with hiring a professional stager to come in and stage your home to look like it’s straight from House Beautiful magazine. A great stager will not only bring the furnishings, he/she will start with an initial walk-through consultation, making suggestions on minor repairs/replacements that will have a benefit far outweighing any up-front monetary implications (think switch plates, faucets, caulking, door handles, carpet cleaning, painting, etc…). This could also extend to the exterior – could your home use a little Curb Appeal pick-me-up?

The Cost: It totally depends on the size of the home, the number of rooms staged and the extent of the touchups prior to staging.  A fair price range for the staging only of a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, 1,700 sq ft + 1 outdoor space:  $6,500 – $8,500 for a 2-month contract.

The Return: Take a look around your home – is it camera ready? It’s ok if it isn’t; most people don’t live like that. Would you be willing to spend about $10,000 for the opportunity to net an additional $25,000 or $50,000, or more? You may be asking if I can guarantee that. Nope. There are too many factors involved in presuming what a home will ultimately sell for, there’s just no formula. However, a nicely staged home sells for more and more quickly than one that is not staged. That is, of course, as long as your home is priced appropriately.

Displacement…or Not – The optimal situation is one in which you are able to pack up and move out prior to your home getting spruced up for its big debut. Once you’re out, the handymen/contractors come in to do the minor repairs and touchups necessary to make your home absolutely shine. The final touch is the stager coming in to create the lifestyle that buyers of the moment are looking for.

Or…you may not have the luxury of moving before you put your home on the market. You’ll need to “sell in place,” as it where. Ever tried living in a model home? It’s not easy, but it’s doable. No dishes in the sink, beds made every day, no toys on the floor, showings on a daily basis. It will take effort, but the payoff can be very rewarding.

A great stager will offer the option of coming in to do a walk-through consultation to recommend the minor repairs/replacements to be done, dictate what should stay and its placement in the home, and what should be immediately packed up and stored. Essentially, she’ll stage your home with your own belongings.

Remember, the result may not be exactly how you live, but how you live in a house isn’t how you sell in a house. A stager’s recommendations are based on knowledge of interior design and space planning combined with years of experience working within the real estate industry.

The Best Stagers…

  1. Are insured and bonded
  2. Have a website with ample before & after photos
  3. Offer full staging, partial staging & an option to stage with some/all of the owners belongings

At the end of the day the goal is to find as many buyers as possible interested in your home, wanting to buy your home, imagining themselves living in your home. It’s not just a home though, it’s a lifestyle. Let’s give them something they can’t live without.

If you’re ready to make a move, let’s talk. I’m more than happy to introduce you to my preferred list of Home Stagers.

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