One of the things I ran into when I first started really talking about staging houses with sellers was I discovered I could get a listing against a lot of agents who were better than me — when I say “better,” I mean who were bigger producers than me. This would happen because when they would talk about staging the house they would tell the seller, “Okay, you need to do this, you need to do this, you need to do this,” they would actually put off the seller. They would often make the seller mad because the seller felt the agent was coming in and telling them to spend all this money and do all this work, and the agent was trying to boss them around. They’re going, “This is my house, and I felt like they were coming in telling me they weren’t going to list the house or it wasn’t going to sell well if I didn’t do all this work and put all this money into it.” The seller actually took it personally and decided they didn’t like the agent. Of course, the agent was trying to help them get the property prepared in a way that really works.
Now, when I first started selling real estate back in the 1990s, staging was not nearly as important as it is today. In fact, when I first started selling real estate back in 1993, staging was not even something I was trained on. It was not something in the training I went through, and I was with one of the number one companies in the world and they never talked about staging, really.
Some things have changed in the last 15 years that have made a dramatic impact on the importance of staging a house and getting it really market-ready.
2 Things that Have Increased the Importance of Real Estate Home Staging
- Number one: Pinterest – Here’s the reality. Every lady, before she buys a house, she spends weeks, if not months, spending all of her free time looking at Pinterest pictures. They spend an hour at night sitting in bed looking at Pinterest, looking at all the cool pictures. What kind of pictures are they looking at? What kind of houses are they looking at? What kind of kitchens and bedrooms and master bathrooms are they looking at? They’re not looking at the fixers. They’re looking at the perfectly staged, perfectly designed, perfectly laid out, professionally decorated, perfect dream homes. Dream kitchens, dream closets, dream bathrooms, dream master bedrooms, dream backyards, dream front yards, dream flowerbeds. I mean, all of it is like, the dream, and that’s what they’re spoiled with. They’re like, “I want that! I want it!” It’s like a little kid. “I want that!”
- Number Two: HGTV – If you watch HGTV you will know most of the shows are on real estate, and most of them are about people taking and finding an ugly house and making it a beautiful house. When they’re done, they’re looking at this gorgeous home and it’s perfectly decked out. Everything’s up to date, everything’s modern, everything has custom, professional interior designers that have come in and made everything match, and it just looks fabulous. They spend all their time watching this, and so they get in their mind, “That’s the house that I want!”
Today, when you’re showing houses, if the house is ugly, it will still sell, but it sells for less because people say, “That’s a fixer,” and they want to get a big time discount if a house doesn’t show perfect.
A vacant house? Oh my goodness… Vacant houses, used to not be a big deal. But now, a vacant house looks unloved. It looks unlived in. It doesn’t feel like a home.
Because buyers are so used to seeing the pictures on Pinterest and on HGTV and on all the other places, social media and on the internet, because they’re so used to that, people have a higher expectation of what they want their new home to look like. All of a sudden, (maybe not all of a sudden, but over time), staging has become a critical part of, not only the high end but even of bread and butter homes… the better a house shows, the more like a model home it shows, the better off it’s going to sell and for a closer to premium price.
25 Staging Tips To Win More Listings and Sell Listings For More:
1) Grimy bathroom walls are a major red flag to buyers. Here is an easy way to get rid of surface mold: Mix a spray bottle with one part water and one part bleach. Just spray it on the wall, and watch the mold disappear. Give it a fresh coat of paint, and your grimy bathroom will go from red flag to red-hot.
2) Don’t replace a yucky shower door: Just scour it. A grimy glass shower door can really wash out your sale. Instead of replacing it, clean it with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and about 10 parts water. Scrub with steel wool. After wiping it down, reinstall the door and you’ll have a shower that’ll help you clean up at the open house.
3) Avoid dated tile by painting. Bathrooms sell houses, but dated tile in a bathroom doesn’t. A low-cost alternative to replacing the tile is to use paint. First coat the tiles with a high-adhesion primer. Next, brush on a special ceramic epoxy covering. For a fraction of the cost of new tile, you will have an up-to-date bathroom that brings in big bucks.
4) A master bedroom should appeal to both sexes. When you are selling, your master bedroom should appeal to buyers of both sexes. Get rid of features that seem too gender-specific. Paint the walls a neutral color, and choose bedding that matches. Then accessorize with items that complement the overall color scheme.
5) Do you have an overpowering brick fireplace that sticks out like a sore thumb? Here’s an easy way to tone it down with paint. Use a rag or brush to rub a light coat of paint on the bricks, one at a time. This will give them a new tone without covering them completely. And, if you use a paint color that matches the walls, your fireplace will go from sticking out to standing out. Updating an old fireplace screen is a cheap (and quick) fix. After removing the screen and wiping it down to get rid of the dust, mask off the windows so you won’t get paint on them. Then, using a can of heat-resistant spray paint, give the screen a facelift. Hold the can about 18 inches away, and use long, even strokes. For less than $5, you will have a fireplace screen that’ll keep your sale from going up in smoke.
6) Stain dated kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. Dated kitchen cabinets can be a big turnoff to potential buyers. Instead of paying big bucks to replace them, just stain them. First, apply the stain in even strokes, going with the grain of the wood. Add some stylish hardware, and your kitchen will have the up-to-date look that buyers love, for less than $200.
7) Stainless-steel appliances are definitely in with buyers. Instead of buying a new dishwasher, here is a low-cost way to resurface an old one: First, remove the front panels, and clean them. Next, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering, and cut it to size. For just $20 your dishwasher will go from outdated to ultra-modern.
8) Fill existing hardware holes instead of making new, unsightly ones. Removing old kitchen hardware can leave your cabinets with stripped-out holes. Here is a trick to reusing the existing ones. First, dip a toothpick in glue and place it in the stripped hole. Cut off the excess piece. Once the glue dries, you’ll be ready to put in the hardware that buyers love.
9) Save money on granite countertops. Granite countertops are a huge selling feature, but they can be expensive. Here are a few ways to save on this investment: First, do the demo yourself. Also, ask the vendor for remnants from previous projects. Remember, any money you spend will definitely be returned in the value these beautiful counters add to your kitchen.
10) New kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers. Studies show that new kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers, so get rid of old appliances that make the rest of the kitchen look dated. Once you install the new equipment, it will scream “new kitchen,” and you will see that spending a little money will make you even more.
11) Need to dress up a window but don’t want to shell out big bucks for window treatments? Here’s a trick: Use place mats. First, apply a hook-and-loop fastener to the place mats and attach them in a row to a basic curtain rod. Now that the place mats are attached to the curtain rods, pin them together at the bottom, and you’ll have a stylish valance that costs about $12.
12) Adding drama to old hardwood flooring is easier than you might think. First, isolate damaged boards, cut them out and replace them with new pieces. Rent a sander from a local hardware store, and give the floor a good sanding. The last step is to stain the boards with a rich color, and watch your floor go from drab to dramatic in no time.
13) Buyers love built-in bookshelves. There’s a fine line between filling them with clutter and staging them to sell. The trick is to arrange neutral items in clusters. Make sure that no single accessory stands out too much. That way, you’ll show off your attractive built-ins, and not your personal belongings.
14) Curb appeal is vital to attracting buyers. Here is how to stop traffic using color. First, with two tones of paint, add a faux finish to any corner keystones. Next, bring out the color of walkway pavers using a stone sealer. Plant flowers in bloom, and you’ll have buyers swarming like bees to your front door.
15) A nice outdoor deck can be a big selling feature, but an old one is a major liability. To give your outdoor space new life, first sand the wood. Cover it with a light-colored stain instead of paint to give it a rustic, grainy look. Furnish it for entertaining, and watch your open house turn into a party.
16) Breathe new life into a worn patio. Do you have a red-brick patio surface that needs to be freshened up? Here is an easy way to give it new life with paint. First, roll a light coat of paint onto the bricks. Next, lightly spray them with water and then dab them before they dry to give them an outdoor look. When you are done, you will have a patio that looks fresh and reels in buyers.
17) Staging rooms to show off their true potential is essential when selling your home. Clear out clutter or other personal items that will distract buyers. Paint the walls a neutral tone, and furnish the space to show off how functional it is. When buyers come through and imagine themselves there, you can bet an offer isn’t far behind.
18) A shabby wood-panel wall is not a strong selling point. Instead of ripping it out, cover it up. Use wood filler to carefully fill in all the cracks between the panels. Then, use a sponge to wipe away the excess filler. Once it’s dry, paint the room. You’ll see an unattractive wall go from standing out to blending in.
19) Use tape outlines on the floor instead of actually moving furniture around. Rearranging a room to stage it for your open house? Here is a tip to save time and effort: Instead of lugging the heavy furniture around the room to see what feels best, put outlines on the floor with painter’s tape. Arrange the room according to your outlines, and save your energy for counting offers.
20) Vinyl tile is an inexpensive way to update your home. Laying vinyl tile is an inexpensive way to update your home, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. You need to avoid laying patterns that look too perfect. Instead, make sure to switch up the direction and placement of the tiles to mix the tones. That way, you end up with a floor that has a natural feel.
21) Stage rooms with one purpose so buyers will know what it is. Potential buyers are confused by extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses. To avoid this problem, first clear away clutter and excess furniture. Paint the walls a neutral tone and then furnish the room with a desk to stage it as a home office in which buyers will want to get down to business.
22) Unpleasant pet odors won’t win over buyers. We all love our pets, but unpleasant pet odors can make a negative first impression. Be sure to get rid of old carpet that can trap offensive smells. Replace it with fresh new carpet in a neutral color. Plus, if you paint the walls to match, your living room will look bigger. It’ll go from designed to smell to designed to sell.
23) Pack up unnecessary items and furniture before you show the house. An over packed living room is a red flag to buyers that your home lacks storage space. Pack up unnecessary items and furniture, and move items to your garage or a nearby storage facility. Clear the way for a sale by letting buyers see your square footage, not your personal belongings.
24) Storage space sells! Potential buyers love homes that have lots of storage space. Since they will open your closets, it’s a good idea to clear out unnecessary clutter, and organize your shelves to show off how much storage you really have. Plus, it gives you a chance to start packing, as you will definitely be moving once buyers see all that closet space.
25) Create a nice flow in your rooms. Buyers are attracted to homes that have a good flow. You can create circulation by replacing square or rectangular dining tables with round ones. Cutting the corners adds room to this maneuver and creates a spinoff effect that adds flow to your home — cash flow, that is. Create a better flow in the house by starting with the floor. Want to create better flow in your house? Start with the floor. Join two rooms together by using the most cost-efficient material in the book: vinyl tile. First, use a snap-line to create a center point between the two rooms. Next, the fun part: Peel and stick the new vinyl tile down, and watch your kitchen and dining room go from old to sold!
So there you have some easy and affordable ways to stage a listing and beat other agents to a listing and sell the listing for more. Take these tips and create your own staging booklet or report as a listing tool with sellers and beat out the competition and sell your listings for more. I dare ya!!
Strength and courage,
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