“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”
This saying strikes a chord in the real estate industry, where many buyers are quick to jump to a conclusion about a potential home after just one glance. That’s why an increasing number of homeowners are employing professional home stagers to prepare their homes for sale.
“Much of what staging accomplishes happens on a subconscious level,” says Carla Grammatica, a consultant with a New York-based staging company. “You are trying to create a positive association between your house and the prospective buyer. Anyone can change a paint color after they move in, but first impressions are difficult to undo.”
“With 91% of buyers searching first on the Internet for homes, MLS photos and virtual tours are extremely important in the selection process,” says Melanie Tisdale, a media coordinator for a brokerage in Florida. “Staging, as a priority instead of as a last resort, will give sellers key advantages.”
Stagers help eliminate clutter, give advice on adding colors, help in rearranging furniture and bring in various items to help spruce up a home.
“One of the most important things is getting rid of things that look messy,” Grammatica says. “Life can get messy, especially with kids and storage issues, but you have to pretend that’s not how you live. You have to pretend your house is [always] neat and well-maintained.”
That means picking up shoes from the hallway, removing papers from tables and furniture and even taking down personal items—such as diplomas, pictures and trophies that clutter the walls.
Professional stagers take into account buyer demographics and buying psychology, and they use design elements in planning out the rooms, space and lighting.
“Some people think that staging is simply cleaning and packing up some of your things, but it is so much more than that,” says Linda Barnett, an Indianapolis–based certified staging professional. “Understanding traffic patterns and highlighting the positive attributes of a home while downplaying its negative features, all go into play.”
One tip Tisdale recommends is packing away unneeded items—such as seasonal clothes and old books—and put them in storage. It’s also important not to overwhelm potential buyers with wild colors and furniture, she says, even if you think it makes your home “special.”
Remember, making your home look like a model rather than lived-in can make all the difference in selling a home.
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