In October of  2020, we published Home Staging Expert® Answers Your Most Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1.  In that post, we answered questions pertaining to the business of staging homes.  But with the spring market so close behind, and with so many homeowners getting ready to sell, we thought this was the perfect time to post Part 2 and discuss our most frequently asked questions about actually staging your home for market.

What do you think is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a homeowner preparing to sell?

The  one thing I always try to make sure my clients understand is they have to stop looking at their house as a home and start looking at it as a product.  I think once they start seeing it from that perspective, they are typically much more objective about the entire process.

What do you think are the main problems homeowners need to tackle to successfully stage and sell their home?

  1. Repair/Replace!   No one wants to buy a house that needs work unless they’re looking for a bargain, so make sure your home is in good repair.  Most buyers today look for move-in ready.  So if your roof is leaking, or your sidewalks are crumbling, address those issues first and foremost.  Now is the time to repair and/or replace if you want top dollar for your home.
  2. Declutter!  Not just that pile of shoes next to the front door or that stack of newspapers and magazines on the coffee table.  But the closets, the cabinets, all those family photos on the wall, that big collection of knick-knacks…they should all be boxed up and removed.  Not only do they look messy and create a distraction, but space is a big consideration for most buyers.  And the more space you can show them, the more impressed they’ll be.  For more info, check out our previous post The Expert Guide to Decluttering Your Home Before You List It To Sell.
  3. Update!  Fresh paint and new flooring are two positive selling points for potential buyers.  But don’t stop there!  Change out those dated lighting fixtures, enamel dated cabinetry and woodwork, and replace worn or just plain ugly countertops.  These are all fairly inexpensive updates that will make your home look more in style.
  4. Continuity!  Too much going on is distracting.  Completely different flooring from room-to-room, different paint colors, different themes.  The goal should always be to try and streamline the elements and make the entire space feels seamless…one room should easily flow right into the next.  It makes a home feel bigger, brighter, more open and spacious.
  5. Clean!  Inside and out.  Like your favorite celebrity is coming to visit.  Or your mother-in-law.  Whichever would be more apt to get you motivated.  And then ensure your house is spotless!  The corners, the ceilings, the walls, the windows, the floors, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the grout, the doors.  Make sure everything sparkles!  And if cleaning isn’t your thing, hire a professional and give them a list.  Professional cleaners who specialize in ‘move-outs’ are the best.

Do you think there’s an advantage to having professional photos taken for the MLS?

I absolutely do!  And if you don’t believe me, just cruise the MLS sometime.  That’s your competition!  Most potential buyers get a sneak-peak into your home long before ever setting foot in the door.  And if they don’t like what they see on-line, there’s a very good chance they’re never going to come knocking.  Investing in professional photos is a small investment that will garner a very big payback in the grand scheme of things.

How far do you think a homeowner needs to go with updates? 

Enough to be competitive.  If you have two neighbors in the identical house plan, both listed at $399,000.00…I guarantee the neighbor with the freshly painted walls, updated kitchen, and new carpeting will always beat out the neighbor who hasn’t touched their house since moving in.  It’s important to stay competitive or at the very least, be realistic and price your house accordingly.

Do you think all vacant homes need to be staged?

I absolutely do.  Vacant rooms tend to feel much smaller, a little cold, and buyers typically have no frame of reference as to how their furnishings might fit.  Staging can definitely help with that and make the space more inviting.  But if a vacant house is dated and needs repairs, that’s where I’d spend my money if it’s a choice between one or the other.  Staging can’t mask a dated home in need of repair, and that’s never the point of staging, anyway.  You stage to enhance the positives, not to hide the negatives.

Is hiring a professional stager really that important?

I think hiring THE RIGHT stager is really important.  Whether you just want a consultation so you can do it yourself, or someone to come in and take care of the whole thing, from start to finish!  It’s not every day a person sells their home.  So it’s likely not something most people specialize in.  An experienced stager with an excellent reputation is totally worth the price!  I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve staged that had been sitting on the market forever.  Some had already paid for a stager to come in and assist, some had been staged by a homeowner who watches a lot of HGTV.  All ended up selling quickly for list price or more after I got done with them.  That’s not me trying to brag.  That’s me trying to show you what a difference it makes when you hire the right stager.

So how does one go about finding ‘the right stager’?

Finding a stager who knows what they’re doing is like finding any professional tradesman.  Ask around.  Get references.  In this case, you can even see the before and after photos of their work, which should make the decision much easier.  And may I recommend checking out our list of professionals trained by Home Staging Expert®?  It’s a great place to start!


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