Setting the Stage to Sell Your Home

By: Janice Clements

"My wife and I are thinking about selling our home," writes Anthony of Aurora "and we are considering hiring a stager but we don't want to waste our money.  Does staging really work?"

Well Anthony, the short answer is yes, but know that just like the real estate market itself, there are no guarantees.

Having attended my fair share of open houses, I continue to be surprised by the number of homeowners who choose not to stage their homes and it's got me wondering why.

While attending a recent open house, I overheard a woman touring the home whisper in an accusatory way to the friend she was with, "This home's been staged", as though the seller was trying to pull a fast one on those interested in seeing the property.  My immediate reaction was, "Well, if the homeowner is smart they staged, yes."

Be assured that staging your home to sell is not trickery.  The intention is not to hide the things that are wrong with a home; in fact if the realtor selling a home knows something about it that might alter a purchasers decision to buy the property, they are obligated to disclose that information to the buyers or their agent. 

A staged home simply ensures the property's features and amenities are highlighted, setting the "stage" to allow potential buyers to see when at it's best, how the house could look.  If your home has a particularly large living room, that space should be seen in it's best light and setup to look as large as it really is by reducing clutter and furnishings that may crowd instead of compliment the room.  If your home has a great backyard with gardens worth gushing over, then the yard and the property need to be shown in all their glory with outdoor furnishings that accentuate the space and make interested buyers see the home's natural potential.

Staging tells a story of what it would be like to live in a particular place, that's why we all love model and show homes so much... the builder has created the space and set a mood to appeal to the largest number of people possible.  Once staged, the property is about the buyer, not about the seller.  We can picture where we as the homeowner would sit to relax, would read, would watch TV and perhaps enjoy a comfy fire.

By packing away personal photos, jewelry, out of season clothing and eliminating items specific to your personal tastes (like Tiffany lamps, pungent wall colours, and old wallpaper) the picture of the homeowner living in the home is eliminated from the buyers mind.  The less the house looks specifically yours, the greater likelihood it will appeal to large groups of people resulting in improved exposure to the public and increased likelihood of selling.  It is a similar concept to the importance of the homeowner not attending open houses and showings... many buyers have difficulty relaxing enough to properly see a space if the homeowner is looming about or if their personal things are all around the house.

Regardless of its state or condition, every property has value.  Depending on the owners ability to make the house look inviting, a home may require more or less staging.  I liken good staging more to set design than decorating.  In fact, you may have heard me say before that staging is the opposite of decorating because while decorating personalizes a home, staging depersonalizes it.

Done properly, staging can in fact increase the perceived and real value of the home.  But while the foundations of staging are sound, don't let the shows you see on TV trick you into believing that it's all fun and games.  Preparing a home for sale is a great deal of work and often takes many hands.  As a homeowner, you will likely find yourself making difficult decisions about what to keep, what to pack and what to get rid of.  Your realtor can help guide you in prepping your home and may suggest a trusted local stager to you.

Still struggling with the sheer amount of work required to get your home looking its best?  Think of the work and the staging as your first step out the door to your new home.  The more you pack, purge and prep, the easier and less chaotic your final move will be, particularly if you have the majority of your belongings packed away in boxes in an easily accessible place like the garage.



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