Ken Fine Photography
How to Stage a House to Sell Fast
When selling your home, you want to ensure that your house shows in the best possible light. Buyers need to imagine themselves and their families living there. In addition, it has been shown that a well-staged home can get you top dollar and sell faster.
You are putting on a show for the buyer. Your home is on “stage,” and your buyers are the audience. The idea is to create a space with maximum appeal to the buyer and that your home stands out from the rest, both in the listing photos and live showings. So, first impressions count.
Consult with your real estate agent before making any decisions. They can also help you find a professional home stager, or you can stage the home yourself. So, let’s get started and see if staging is right for you!
The Value of Staging a Home for Sale
According to the National Association of Realtors, buyers say that 81% found it easier to visualize the house as their future home. Additionally, 46% of buyers were more willing to tour the home online, and 45% of buyers stated that a staged home positively impacted the home’s value decorated to the buyer’s tastes. 96% of buyer’s agents said that home staging affects buyers’ view of the home.
When staging your home for sale, you should consider the cost of staging, the increased property value, the time it takes to sell, as well as local market competitiveness. Staging your home could increase the likelihood of selling your home quicker and for top dollar.
What is Home Staging?
Home staging is the process of increasing the home’s positive aspects and downplaying any negative aspects. The idea is for the buyer to imagine their family living there. It would be best to make sure that the rooms look as spacious as possible.
The process typically involves decluttering, cleaning, decorating, and repairing or updating the property to be in the best possible condition. This can be done by professional home stagers or by the homeowners themselves with some guidance from professionals.
Many people think that only expensive homes need home staging because they believe it will help them sell for more money. But actually, any house can benefit from this process. Once a buyer walks through the front door, they will get a gut feeling and know within seconds if this is the home for them.
Of course, this is assuming that the listing photos piqued their interest to call for a showing in the first place.
Starting The Staging Process for Photos and Showings
Depersonalize: One of the first tasks in staging your home for sale is to “depersonalize.” This is the process of removing personal items and family photos and will help buyers visualize their own family living there.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter: This is probably the most critical aspect, so pay attention! Go into each room and get rid of items you don’t need. Next, neatly arrange all pantries, closets, and cabinets.
Buyers will want to see how much storage space there is and do not want to see an overstuffed space. You may want to get a storage unit to use for all your extra clutter that you don’t throw away.
As a professional real estate photographer, I can’t tell you how many times I have had to photograph a home where there was barely room for me and my photo equipment. Personal things everywhere, oversize furniture, which makes the rooms look tiny, walls full of family photos (which I blur out), kitchen stuff all over the countertops, sometimes including food left out. I can go on and on.
I have seen bathroom items strewn all over the place, e.g. toothpaste, shampoo, rolls of toilet paper, filled trash cans, burned-out mirror lights, dirty towels, dirt, and filth everywhere, and other items that I couldn’t even identify. Gross.
So, hide everything you possibly can. Put kitchen items in closets, drawers, cabinets, or throw them out. The same goes for the bathroom. The photos should only show the bathroom spotless except for a small decorative item or two.
Close that toilet seat and lid! Buyers do not want to see this and will run away from your home as they may think you may be hiding significant defects since you didn’t even take the time to clean or declutter.
Dogs, Cat’s and Bears, Oh My!
Many people are allergic to dogs or cats, so you want to make sure to do a deep cleaning and remove any sign of pets such as feeding bowls, pet toys, crates, etc. It’s obvious, but never leave your pets in the house when buyers are coming to view your property.
The same goes for professional photography. It’s funny. Many times when I have shot real estate photos, a cat or dog will jump into the frame just as I am about to take the picture. How do they know?
Clean, Clean, and Clean Again
Clean like you are having a dinner party. Your house should be spotless when photographed and when Realtors show the home to a potential buyer. Smudges on the glass and shiny surfaces, dirty kitchen appliances, sinks, bathrooms, and kids’ rooms all need to be super clean.
It pays to have a cleaning company do a deep clean before professional photos are taken. Or, take the time and use a little elbow grease to make your home shine. Think of it this way. Your home should look like a high-end hotel room when you first check-in. No clutter, disinfected, and spotless. Just a touch of a lived-in look is fine.
Lighting Your Home for Photos and Showings
Replace all burnt-out light bulbs and make sure the light bulbs in a particular fixture are the same color temperature (warm or cool) and the exact same wattage. Straighten any lampshades, make sure all lamps are plugged in, and have a working light bulb. Make sure the range vent and refrigerator lights are working.
Don’t forget the closets and garage lights and every outside light, including walkways, post lamps, and patio lights.
On the day of the photoshoot and buyer showing appointments, turn on every single light in the house. The photographer will turn off lights as needed for the photos. Open all window coverings, shades, curtains, etc. The buyers need to see everything, including the views, good or bad. Open all your closet doors.
The rooms need to look big and appear light and conversational. Move furniture around, so it
looks more inviting and cozy. Couches and love seats should be facing each other. Move the furniture to maximize space. Use throw pillows and remove everything from the coffee table except a few decorative items.
Every fingerprint and smudge on shiny surfaces will show in the photos, and buyers will see that the room has not been cleaned, possibly for a long time. I have also witnessed bath tows slung over the shower door, still wet from the morning shower. Please do not do that. Instead, use freshly cleaned or new bath towels. Don’t forget the tile, fixtures and grout. All should shine.
I love to photograph dining rooms with a place setting and a centerpiece. It looks so inviting. Buyers can visualize having their own dinner parties.
Use Neutral Room Colors
Neutral wall colors are your best friend when selling a house. Not everyone has the same taste, but by painting the walls a bright, neutral color, the rooms will appear larger, and the buyers will be more able to visualize how their home will look. Accent colors, here and there, are acceptable.
Go through your home and look for all the minor repairs that you can do. These may include wallpaper removal, painting, caulking, re-grouting, paint touch-ups, hardware, doorknobs, window shades, etc. Don’t forget the exterior of your home. Make sure the front door is an attractive and inviting, bright color.
Add some large, potted plants, and make sure the landscaping is in good shape. I have an article on Curb appeal and landscaping in another blog post.
Major home repairs are critical and should be discussed with your Real Estate Agent when you first decide to sell your house.
The Cost of Home Staging
Professional staging can be expensive. Home Stagers can charge by the room, hourly, monthly furniture & décor rentals, or even a percentage of the home sale price. In higher-end homes staging companies can bring in a house manager.
The house manager temporarily move into the house after you have vacated. They make sure that the place is welcoming and beautiful every day.
The good news is that you can do this yourself or have your realtor help you! Just declutter, get rid of or put in storage everything you don’t need, make the rooms look bigger, do weekly cleanings, make your minor repairs, replace light bulbs, paint the walls and keep the outside looking great. Of course, you can always hire a cleaning service to come regularly until your home sells.
A staged home has a much higher chance of being sold than an un-staged one. It is not just because the staging makes it look more appealing but also because staging helps to highlight the best features of a home. Staging can help increase the value of a home by up to 20%. It can also reduce the time it takes for a house to sell by up to 50%.