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Staging Your Home For Sale (Posted On: Saturday, May 24, 2008)

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In Part One of this series,  we looked at the things you can do to prepare your home for sale on the market.  Today, we are going to talk about “staging” your home for sale. When it is time to sell, start to think of your home as a theater. You will be putting on a performance, much like staging a play.

The scenery must be right, the lighting perfect, the audience comfortable.  Buyers need to become absorbed into the story; they need to be able to imagine themselves living happily in your home.

The decision to buy a house is not solely based upon rational factors such as price, location and accessibility to services. It is also an emotional choice. It is a search for a home, a place in which one will find comfort, security and happiness, a place one would want to settle down and live in. It is the emotional decision that is most affected by staging.

The idea of hiring a professional home stager is a relatively new concept that is becoming increasingly popular and the stagers goal is the same as the Sellers:  to sell the house for the highest possible price in the shortest period of time.  Stagers do this by highlighting a homes strengths and minimizing its weaknesses. 

While some potential home buyers can easily look past clutter, smells and poor taste to see potential, the truth is that most cannot.  Imagine two homes with the same square footage, built by the same builder at the same time in the same neighbourhood:

House #1
As you approach the house, you notice that weeds have taken over the garden, the front door is dirty, the windows are grimy and the door knob sticks.  Inside, the smell of wet dog assaults your senses as you look around to see laundry on the couch, a dirty fish tank on top of the fridge, purple carpet in the living room and a torn Lazy-Boy recliner fighting for space with the CD rack, dining table and kids toys.  The bathroom has old blue fixtures, blackened caulking, mosaic tile floors and dirty towels on the floor.  Down in the basement, you can’t move because of the boxes, tools, empty laundry detergent bottles and the cat litter boxes.  Does this feel like home?

House #2
Imagine the same house with tidy gardens, a freshly painted front door and shiny hardware to match the gleaming windows.  You come in to the scent of a roast in the oven cooking in the spotless kitchen.  The living room features gleaming hardwood floors, minimal but tasteful furnishings and neutral walls devoid of family photos.  The bathroom has newer fixtures, the grout is lily white and fresh towels have been laid out.  The beds are made, closets are organized and even the basement is in perfect order.  You haven’t even noticed the fact that there is NO CLUTTER, did you? 

Which house do you think will sell first and for more money?  Do you think that the second house might sell for at least the $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 more that the second homeowner may have spent employing a stager?  You bet it will.  In the last year, almost every well staged home in our market that I’ve seen has sold quickly and has netted a sale price at least five to ten times the original investment the owners made in hiring a home stager.  From this REALTORS® viewpoint, it’s an investment well worth making.

Here’s where you can start. Go and visit some model homes in a few of the many new home subdivisions we have in our area.  Chances are you won’t see toothbrushes, magazines, alarm clocks or the other normal signs of living in the models but yet, you don’t consciously even notice this.  You might see a blanket over the back of a couch, an open lap top on a desk, a set table, a fireplace on, tonight’s menu on the kitchen counter.  This is staging and I would say that currently, staging at its best can be seen in the models at Creekside

If you are serious about selling your home at top dollar in the shortest possible time, then first prepare your home and then, have it staged.  Ask your REALTOR® for a recommendation of a Home Stager and then ask the stager for at least three references. 

One final note. Once your home is prepared, staged and finally made available for sale, be prepared for showings.  This is when the curtain rises and the performance begins.  It’s show time and here are a few hints:

· Turn on all lights including ambient lighting
· Open all drapes in daytime
· Take out the garbage daily, make all the beds, clear dishes away and ensure bathrooms are spotless
· Play quiet background music or nothing at all.  Quiet suggests peace and serenity.
· Turn on air-conditioning or light fireplace
· Foster a welcoming aroma and eliminate offensive odours from pets, smoke or cooking. 
· Establish a focal point in each room such as fresh flowers on a dining table, a charming area rug, red geraniums on the kitchen window sill.
· Keep pets outside during showings (or, better yet, at a friend's)
· Have as few people in the house as possible. If you can, be absent during any showings as potential buyers often feel awkward and rush through if they think they are inconveniencing the owner.
· In winter, make sure that the driveway and walkways are accessible.

Find more tips and ideas for selling your home on Marg’s website or her blog

Marg Scheben-Edey
Broker
Market Value Appraiser-Residential
RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage
marg@collingwood-bluemountain.com

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