You’ve heard it a hundred times; Stage your house when selling it. Why? The answer, “To make it look good”, doesn’t cut it. The reasons are far deeper then that.
Recently I tackled what will probably be the most difficult staging of my real estate career. The smaller home, situated on a large lot in a desirable neighbourhood, was quite frankly a disaster when I first laid eyes on it. Clutter ran rampant. Dated wall paper adorned the walls. The pungent odour of cat urine assaulted my nose. The walls, windows, and floors looked dingy. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into? Where do I start?”
When consulting with the executors of the estate it was evident that they were overwhelmed by the state of the house and were not quite sure where to start. Many of the homes like this one in the neighbourhood were being torn down and new monster homes put in their place due to the large lots sizes. This posed the question of whether to completely empty it out and leave ‘as is’ or stage the home. Ultimately we decided to stage the home but with a limited budget using the existing furniture in the home. By doing so I wanted to appeal to the widest margin of buyers possible: Builders and people willing to move in and live. If we left the home as it was the amount of persons interested in the home would be significantly reduced to builders. Builders only make up a small percentage of prospective buyers. If we didn’t do cosmetic changes, people not interested in remodelling would have difficulty visualizing themselves in the home, not to mention be turned off by the odour and grime.
When prospective buyers view a home many psychological factors come into play. Something as subtle as a marked up wall can turn buyers off. Clutter distracts from the architectural features of the home. A piece of missing trim or loose door hardware can raise doubts about how the home has been maintained. I’ve had buyers in this situation who raise the question, “What else has not been properly maintained and what problems are there that we can’t see?” Bad odour is a big turn off. Most people want to get away from unpleasant odours and as a result, when viewing a home with bad odours, buyers will often speed through and not take note of the features. Quite often when recalling the property they’ll remember the home as the one that smelled bad. Smell is also one of the biggest triggers of memories. This is why many Realtors will bake cookies before an open house. It triggers good memories and smells great.
Back to the subject house. The first thing I wanted to do was go through the home and label all the furnishings and accessories we could use for staging. Once this was done I arranged for the family to gather as many people as possible and order a dumpster. Anything that the family did not want and was not salvageable for local charities was to be disposed of. In one day we filled a large dumpster. By cleaning out the home it created room to carry out the necessary improvements to get the home ready for sale.
Next up it was a thorough cleaning. This entailed washing walls, spot removal, window cleaning, dusting cobwebs out of the corners and off the ceilings, thoroughly scrubbing down the bathrooms and kitchen, and polishing the furniture. Already the home was smelling better and looking bigger. All the clutter and odour were distracting from the great features that the home had to offer. We also had the broadloom professionally steam cleaned. Although this didn’t get rid of the cat urine odour completely it helped immensely. The areas causing the odour were treated afterwards with an enzymatic spray that breaks down the urine on a molecular level to get rid of the smell. Simple Solution
Once the cleaning was completed, wall paper was stripped and required painting completed. We also decided to paint the vanity, walls and replace the dated floor covering and accessories in one of the bathrooms. Surprisingly it cost less then $200 to bring the 1960’s powder room into the 21st century & look like a million bucks. The window treatments in the bedrooms where also updated with simple white cotton shears to give the rooms a bright airy feel.
Furniture was then moved from one bedroom to another. The difference was night and day. One of the most common mistakes people make is placing too much furniture in their bedrooms. This often makes a room appear smaller than it really is and distracts the viewer. We followed suit with the rest of the rooms. Organizing, repositioning furniture, & placing accessories.
As a result of our labour we had a home that appealed to the largest array of buyers and were able to offer it for sale at a higher price. Here’s a recap of things to do when staging.
- Clean thoroughly. Light fixtures, walls, ceilings, windows, and the obvious things like kitchens(this includes de-greasing and cabinets) and bathrooms.
- Touch up paint and repaint if necessary.
- Consider stripping outdated wall paper.
- Reposition furniture to improve flow and openness.
- Get rid of offensive odours.
- Consider renting furniture to update a room’s look.
- Place accessories but not too many that they distracts from the room and house itself.
- Consider doing minor cosmetic updates to bathrooms and kitchens. They’re more affordable then you think.
- Use nice bedding and make use of pillows and throws to create an inviting look. Good, fluffy towels in the bathroom help create an image of luxury and comfort.
If you are interested in viewing this property or selling your home please contact me.