Home staging can help you house sell faster
In the theater, as soon as the curtain rises even before an actor speaks a word the audience sees the set. And a first impression is made based on looks alone.
That may seem superficial we’ve all been taught not to judge a book by its cover but in the world of real estate, first impressions can make a lot of difference.
That’s why home staging can change the impression buyers have of your home immediately. Properly staged, a house will have more perceived value and may sell faster.
Steve Oligmueller of Staging Solutions helps homeowners who need help preparing their homes for sale set the stage. And he takes curb appeal seriously.
"Start at the curb," Oligmueller says. "Look at the front of the house. Go through the front door look at the foyer. Decide what’s appealing, what’s not."
And how do you know what to look for? That’s where a staging expert comes in. For $150, Oligmueller will walk through a 2,000 square foot house offering a variety of suggestions to make the house more sellable. For an additional fee, he can completely stage the property for you.
To maximize curb appeal, make sure the lawn is cut and the bushes trimmed. If the landscaping is not special, Oligmueller suggests putting flowers in pots on the steps to draw attention to the front door. If the door is dingy, re-paint it.
In the theater, staging begins with the backdrop. In a home, staging begins with the walls.
"Bright red or brilliant green? Tone it down," Oligmueller suggests. Flowery wallpaper? Cover it. Some people might like it, but most will prefer more neutral solids.
His next suggestion is to depersonalize the space. This is an area where Oligmueller says he is most helpful. He looks at everything in the house unemotionally.
"Your house is a product" as soon as it goes on the market, he says, but many sellers have trouble looking at the house without emotion. "You don’t want someone to feel like they’re intruding."
The idea is to give potential purchasers a palette on which they can project their own lives. Just as Oligmueller has instructed gay couples to put away the rainbow flags and framed nudes over the bed to attract straight buyers, he has made homey hetero houses look neutral too.
"Religious objects? Family pictures? Children’s art on the refrigerator? Put them away," he advises. He reminds reluctant clients that "you’ll take your things with you to the new place. Put them away for awhile."
The way people live is not necessarily how they want to buy a house, either. Don’t leave a dog or cat in the house when it is being shown. Pet owners may be worrying about the animal’s safety, but Oligmueller is still thinking about the impression. An animal doesn’t make a house more attractive to everyone, so he says pick up toys, pet bowls and litter boxes as well.
Too much art can be distracting. Get rid of clutter and hide valuables knickknacks may be broken or stolen. Put these things away for safekeeping.
For the seller without enough accessories, Oligmueller brings in potted plants and appropriate art. He may replace a practical but unattractive paper towel holder with a colorful cookie jar.
Some furniture warms a room but too much makes it look smaller. Older or worn furniture suggests you haven’t updated or taken care of other things as well.
"Slipcovers can hide a multitude of sins," he says. "Nothing expensive and custom-made; bolts of fabric and pins do the trick."
Sellers know they must keep the house clean throughout the sales process, but Oligmueller looks in places most of us overlook. He checks baseboards and windowsills and makes sure no dust comes off the drapes. Dingy grout in the bathroom can be easily brightened, he says. Cabinets can be updated with new hardware; paint them if they look dull, but a degreaser should do the trick.
Clean out the closets and hang clothes neatly and pick up everything from the floor. "Cluttered closets imply to the homebuyer that there isn’t enough storage," he says.
Light sells, too. Open the curtains to let in as much sun as possible, and replace all light bulbs with the highest wattage a fixture will allow, especially in halls and closets so there are no dark corners.
"This is not the time to be stingy with the heating and cooling make sure people viewing your home are as comfortable as possible," Oligmueller says.
In the backyard, clear out any clutter, put out the trash, trim the trees and cut the lawn. Then draw attention to a living area with patio furniture. Oligmueller suggests springing for a decent set, which will go to the new place with you.
Once the house is staged, he says to remember to take good pictures. Most buyers, especially younger ones, get their first impression of your house online, which Oligmueller can do. In the Internet age, curb appeal may actually start at the browser.
Solution: Staging realty marketing services. Solutionstaging.biz, 817-262-7398.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice Defining Homes print edition March 7, 2008
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