Home staging: what, why and tips

Whenever we move, there are a lot of things to plan. Will you be moving by yourself with the help of friends or will you be hiring professional movers? Will you be moving within the city, across the city, across the province or even further, to another country? There are many things to do to ensure a smooth move but what happens next to the house you are moving out of? It is only normal to list it for sale. There may some questions to ask yourself before listing your property. One of the prominent things your real estate agent will ask you when you decide to list your property is, “Will you be staging your home (home staging)?” Let me tell you about my experience when I decided to downsize from my townhouse to an apartment.

It was just last spring when I put my townhouse up for sale; a property which we bought when it was still off-plan property, making it fairly new in the market. It had been a few months since we moved in since its closing and my daughter decided to move and live downtown so she would be closer to work. With my husband and I not being home often because of the nature of our jobs, we thought it would be more sensible if we lived in a smaller space. A year ago I had plans on downsizing and moving into an apartment so I was already looking into the real estate market for apartments but it had not occurred to me that it would happen so quickly.

Going with the flow of that time, I actively looked into apartments that would provide a shorter commute to work. By the end of summer, not only had I found an apartment and purchased it, I had plans to move in by mid-fall. Once I moved out of the townhouse, I had look into selling it and preparing to put the house on the market.

Before putting the house on the market, there were a number of things we had to fix first. We owned dogs which we kept in the basement to limit their movement in the house and this made the smell there really pungent. We had to air out the house and that meant opening every window possible and lighting scented candles in hopes to get rid of smell. We also had to wash the basement floor to remove the lingering smell.

On top of getting rid of odour, we had to repair the holes on the wall that were made as a result of hanging pictures. We also hired professional cleaners to do a big clean of the house. This way the house would be squeaky clean when potential buyers came to view the property.

With an empty house, we had to decide if we will be staging the home or not before listing it. We chose to not stage the house and just list it as an empty house. You may wonder, what made you decide to not stage the home. When the house was built, we participated in selection of the interior and the colours selected were very neutral, mainly black flooring with white cabinets and walls giving it a modern feel. We thought a house with nothing in it would allow buyers to envision their own furniture in the house.

At the time of our listing, our next door neighbour also listed their property around the same time. They were still living in the property so they had to keep their house clean on a regular basis. Another thing to highlight was that they staged their home. Their interior was mainly brown – flooring, cabinets – with light coloured walls. Their property sold a few days earlier than ours. The staging really helped highlight the strengths of their home and draw attention away from the not so desirable features.

In my story, you saw the things you need to do when you prepare to sell your house. But why the mixed views on staging?

What is home staging?

When you decide to put your home up for sale, real estate agents often talk about staging your home. This means decorating that is designed to showcase the best features of the house to impress potential buyers for a quick sale.

Why stage your home?

  1. Dress to impress. Staging your home is similar to dressing for success. You dress to impress so why shouldn’t your house? Home staging will make your home look it’s best to potential buyers, especially if other houses on the market are not staged. Your staged listing will stand out on MLS.
  2. Quicker sale. With a staged home, your house is visually more appealing than other houses on the market. It allows for buyers to envision the potential of a home. Staged homes showcase its full potential, highlight its strengths, minimize the impact of its faults and enhances potential buyer’s’ ability to connect with the property and see themselves living in it.
  3. Ideal sale price. Statistics show that staged houses sell for a better price than houses not staged. When you are staging your home, you are enhancing the potential of your home and therefore increasing likelihood of receiving what you listed your house for or even selling for more than the asking price. The longer your home is listed on the market, the less you are expected to receive for the selling price.

Can I stage my own home or should I find a professional home stager?

When you list your house for sale you can either decide to stage your own home or hire a professional home stager. Of course, each option has a different cost and impact. If you decide to hire a professional home stager, there will be a cost to it and that can vary from designer to designer and with how much experience they carry. When you stage your home, you will most likely be spending less as you will be using existing furniture to stage around with.

What to expect and look for in a home stager

When you Google home stager in your geographic area, you may be given in a long list. You have absolutely no idea what you should look for to narrow your list down for in a quality home stager.

Here are 5 qualities to look for in a home stager:

  • Qualifications and portfolio: how long has the designer been in the staging industry for? Looking at their past projects will be able to provide you with an idea of what their works are like. Make sure the photos they show you are the real deal. You can ask them about
  • Specialty: each home stager may specialize in a specific type of home, like lofts, condos, town houses, etc., make sure the one you hire is one that specializes in the type of house you are listing.
  • Pricing: whatever service we are looking to use, we always look at the price to determine if it is worth it or not. In staging, price does not really mean anything. A good stager will be willing to work with your budget.
  • Real estate market knowledge: if the home stager knows the local housing market, it can greatly help with how they will stage your home. They are part of the real estate industry as much as a real estate agent. They should generally know how much homes usually sell for and how long they sit on the market for.
  • Professionalism: does the stager emit a professional feel that you are comfortable in putting your trust in? They will be going through your house and rearranging everything. Are they honest and open to address concerns they may have on issues pertaining to the presentation of your home?

Simple home staging tips

If you are not looking into hiring a home stager, then you will have to put in more effort to make your property look pleasant!

  • Curb appeal: this is the first thing that every person sees when they pass by your home. If it is attracting enough, it may bring in prospective buyers to book viewings for your house.
  • Clean, clean, clean: when people come to see your house, it is important that everything is squeaky clean. Clean does not just mean vacuuming the carpet and cleaning the bathroom, it means getting to the bottom of everything – under the countertops, shower curtains, ceiling fans, etc., everything should be aesthetically pleasing.
  • Clear away the clutter: it is best to clean and get rid of the mess in your home. Whenever people view your house, a clean home is more inviting than one that is messy. An uncluttered home allows people to see the beauty in your home.
  • Depersonalize: removing family pictures, children’s artwork, etc., will allow buyers to imagine themselves living in your house. It will not make them feel like they are intruding into someone’s home.
  • Remove odors: a house that smells great makes it memorable. If you own any pets, air out the house to get rid of the smell and if possible, arrange for them to stay at a family or friend’s house or even send them to boarding. Placing automatic air freshener around the house will definitely help in getting rid of odor without too much effort.
  • Minor repairs: make an effort in covering the punctured holes on the wall when you hung pictures on it. Some buyers can be picky when it comes to these minor details and may negotiate for a lower price because of these minor defects.
  • Light it up: a bright and lit home makes it very welcoming and helps emphasize the cleanliness of the home. Buyers look for light and bright so shining lots of light is great!

Home staging comes with a price but it can make a difference in the selling price of your home. Not all sellers stage their home so you will be at an advantage if you do. Getting your house ready to sell is a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth the effort rather than listing for less than you should and then reducing your price even more to sell.