Home staging is simply the art of setting up the property so that you highlight its best features while making it appeal to a larger audience. As the seller’s broker, it is your responsibility to counsel your clients on how to stage the interior and exterior of their homes. So make sure that you can provide this vital service.
As a real estate broker, you are not expected to be a professional interior designer, landscaper, or architect. However, if you understand the basics of staging a home, you can make your listings more appealing to potential home buyers and sell it more quickly—often for more money.
Read on to learn the fundamentals of staging a home.
Conduct some research
You should look at the comparables in your area to see what your seller’s home is up against. Additionally, tour model homes in new local neighborhoods. Often staged by professionals, these properties can give you an idea of what to change in your seller’s property. If you feel at a total loss, reach out to a more tenured broker for advice, or even consider working with a staging specialist in your area.
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Talk to the owners about the benefits of staging a home
Homeowners often resist staging on any level. On the one hand, they may be reluctant to spend money on a property they are trying to unload. On the other, they may not want to live in a stark, model home for weeks or even months. Or they may even see your requests to clean, declutter, and fix problem areas as insulting. People can be very emotionally invested in their homes, even if they are selling.
At the same time, you do need to offer your honest opinion. Your goal is to get the property off the market as soon as possible, so don’t hold back. However, when you suggest changes, approach homeowners carefully. Be tactful and never criticize their taste, decorating sense, and other decisions. Also, offer reasons for making any changes, for example, by comparing their property to others on the market.
Offer your advice, but remember that all decisions are up to the client, not you. Despite your expertise, owners may choose not to go with your advice. If they do, explain how it can ultimately affect the sale of the property, but don’t try to force them into anything.
Create some curb appeal
If the outside of the house looks rough, people are less likely to want to go inside. So make sure the exterior looks beautiful from the street—and that the color, décor, and style appeals to the general public’s standards, not specifically to the sellers. For example, paint that is too bold, mismatched, or worn can turn people off, so the owner may need to go with a more neutral palette.
A major overhaul is hardly necessary, and often a fresh coat of paint or stain—relatively inexpensive improvements—can do wonders for improving curb appeal.
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Examine all property structures
Take a close look at decks, porches, patios, stairs, fences, and other structures to assess their overall condition and determine if they need any repairs. Even minor, easy-to-fix issues, such as protruding nails or loose railings can keep buyers from purchasing a property.
Evaluate the overall landscape
Few things can boost—or lower—a home’s curb appeal like landscaping. A yard void of plants looks barren and unwelcoming. However, overgrown plants and trees that cover windows or take over sidewalks and driveways make properties look shabby.
Ask clients to mow and weed their yards and prune overgrown trees, shrubs, and flower beds. They should also freshen up or add mulch and rock to give the area a finished look. Placing colorful plants and flowers near the main entrance, along walkways, or on opposite ends of porches and decks can pretty things up even more.
Make the inside ultra-inviting
Although curb appeal may be what gets people into the house, that moment when clients first enter a home is what will keep them interested. If they don’t like what they see in those first few seconds, it can be very hard to overcome those negative feelings as they view the rest of the property.
While those feelings are often based on emotion, rather than logic, they are a challenge nonetheless, so talk to your clients about the importance of keeping the property company-ready, meaning that it is always clean and smelling fresh.
Improve the flow of the house
Homes that are packed with furniture feel smaller than they are. Big pieces of furniture can block doorways and disrupt the flow. Advise your clients to take out unnecessary furniture pieces and make other changes to make spaces appear larger and more functional.
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Rid spaces of clutter and personal belongings
This one is often hard on sellers because you are asking them to put away the things they love. That said, buyers want to be able to imagine living in the house. That is hard to do with the seller’s creepy collection of clowns sitting everywhere or with the walls covered floor to ceiling with family photos.
Strongly urge your clients to store unnecessary and unused items in another location—not the attic, garage, or basement because potential buyers need to see those areas, too. Items sellers should stow away include:
- All but a few personal pictures
- Small appliances they don’t use regularly
- Excessive figurines, decorative pieces, and keepsakes
- Toiletries from bathroom vanities and bedroom dressers
- Out-of-season clothing, outerwear, and shoes from closets
- Holiday decorations and other rarely used items that may be taking up storage space
Each time you ask your real estate clients to do something regarding staging a home, remind them that the goal is to sell the property more quickly and for more money. That can take the sting out of what they may perceive as criticism from you about their home.