As a stager, I love to educate clients about the staging process and how to see their homes through buyers' eyes. Selling a house can be a stressful time and my goal for my clients is to help them diminish this stress be creating a staging plan. This creative challenge and process is a true passion of mine and one I look forward to sharing with you.
I am so excited to announce that I am offering the Real Estate Staging Association’s (RESA) professional development course for agents. This three credit hour course benefits agents and brokers by educating them on how staging will protect their clients’ interests and will position agents as staging advocates. The class is packed full of staging tips that agents can apply immediately to all of their listings.
It was such a pleasure teaching this course to Warren County agents last week. We had a fun-filled class, hosted by the First National Bank. As a former adjunct instructor, teaching a subject I am passionate about it is exciting. I’d love to bring this class to your office. Agents who complete the class receive 3 CE credits in both Tennessee and Georgia. Call me at 423-763-1193 to find out more information!
As a stager, I’m my husband’s (and my own) worst nightmare when selling our own homes. I tell my clients that getting their homes ready to sell, is just plain hard. There’s no mincing words. It’s hard work. Period. However, I also tell them that I get it, because I too have lived it. And, yes, we did it with the commotion of raising a big family.
Kitchen before staging
Kitchen after staging & professional photography
With every client, we prepare a list of priorities and recommend the order of these priorities. They can then knockout as much or as little on the list. In each market, all homes have a price range and for our home, we were aiming for the top dollar price range and were unwilling to sacrifice. We did all of the usual: decluttered, packed up items that weren’t needed for staging or living at the time and moved them out of the house, touched up paint, and cleaned like the queen was coming by for tea.
Mudroom before (house full of swimmers)
Family room during cleanout
Guest bedroom during cleanout
We didn’t want to list without completing renovations.
That by itself was tough, and not all of the children were onboard, especially our 8-year-old twin boys (& teenagers can be kind of put off by staging too). To make matters worse, we completed the renovations that we started four years earlier when we bought the house. What renovations you ask? Let me begin by reminding you that I am my own worst staging nightmare.
Exterior before new paint
Bathroom during renovation
Bathroom staged & ready to list!
Bathroom renovation included.
Our renovations included painting the exterior of the house. We added window trim when we installed new widows after moving in four years earlier, but never refreshed the house with paint. New paint, led to new exterior lights. Inside, the previous owners had updated some of the interior doors, we finished by adding five new doors, three new closet doors, and matching hardware throughout. Our laundry room, which we had just installed new flooring in, needed new paint to match. But all of these weren’t the hardest part. We also updated one of the bathrooms (the only one left to renovate) with shiplap, new tile surround, new trim, new vanity, new hardware and lighting.
Office during cleanout & door additions
Daughters’ room during door addition
Was it worth it?
Absolutely! We sold it quickly and for top dollar, and bottom line, that’s every stager’s goal for their clients. At Arrange we can walk you through every stage of the process (including cleaning, renovations, and keeping it staged), so let us help you get your house market ready today!
Everything came together for the sale of this beautiful Signal Mountain home. Thanks to a real estate agent who understands the value of staging and a home seller who was willing to put in the extra work, this house had an offer in just two weeks! The transformation that took place was all based on the room by room recommendations provided in our Home Staging Action Plan.
Before & After: This kitchen already had a great layout and cabinets. It just took new granite, lighting and hardware to complete the transformation.
For each occupied staging consultation, we walk through the house, beginning at the curb, and make recommendations based on three areas: 1) using what the seller already owns–what needs to be packed or moved to highlight the features of the home, 2) adding accessories or even furniture as needed to update or show the possibility of a space, & 3) making physical improvements in the way of flooring, hardware, lighting, paint, etc. In this case, the agent contacted us and indicated that the kitchen was her top priority. Kitchens can make or break the sale of a house and this kitchen needed updating. The agent was able to share pictures of the house prior to the staging appointment, so we came to the appointment with granite, hardware, lighting, and paint recommendations. These investments prior to listing are only made when sellers will see a return on investment. We knew in this particular neighborhood these updates would make a difference in the sale of the house.
As we walk through the house taking notes for the Home Staging Action Plan, the focus is always on how we can use what the seller already has to highlight a space. This once-empty foyer just needed a table to create a sense of the amount of welcoming space. We recommended moving this table from the dining room and adding accessories to create the look.
The breakfast area of this home had a larger table that we recommended moving to the nearly empty dining room. Although the seller never used the formal dining room, buyers want to see a dining room in its full potential. The seller was able to borrow a right-sized table to use in the breakfast area. Since the owner already had blue in much of her decor, we recommended carrying that color scheme throughout, as seen in the blue rug that was added to anchor the table.
Moving the table and adding a new light fixture was all it took to create this beautiful dining space. Notice that the table is casually set, which is often all that is needed.
In addition to the blue foyer table, we also took our color cue from this chair in the living room. Recommendations were made to pare down items on the built-ins, while still highlighting this great feature.
For the master bathroom, we recommended Benjamin Moore Nickel to update and freshen up this space. The added accessories show what a spa-like bathroom potential buyers would get in this home.
We made recommendations to carry the color blue outside, completing the cohesive feel of this home. By adding pillows to the deck furniture and blue chairs to the fire pit, additional features of the backyard became a spotlight in this listing.
There is no getting around it. Selling a home is STRESSFUL! How do you go through your things and decide what to keep, pack, donate, or even toss out?
First, take a deep breath and keep your eye on the final goal. Save yourself a lot of stress and begin the decluttering process early. For those of you who have a hard time letting go, you need to approach this task on a small scale–big picture plan, and set small attainable daily goals. What does this process look like?
Follow these easy steps to a clutter free home:
Breakfast area built-ins before
Step 1: Set a daily goal of 30 minutes and focus on a area (and not necessarily a room). If you can look at it in small sections it becomes so much more doable. For example, begin in your family room and tackle the built-ins that are cluttered from years of use and will need to be cleaned up and organized to highlight this fabulous feature when you list your home. Don’t look at the rest of the room, just focus on the built-ins, which leads to step two.
Step 2: Approach each area with at least two boxes and one trash bag. One box is for packing. These are for items that won’t add value to your home during the staging process, but are important or necessary to keep. One box is for donations. You know there are books on those shelves you will never read again, so donate them to your local library. You are decluttering and helping out in one step! Time for the trash bag. This is the where you throw out, or even better yet, recycle those old magazines that you always intended to read one day, but haven’t. Each area (or even small rooms) should get at least two boxes and one trash bag pulled out before you list. Buyer’s want to see your space, not your stuff.
Step 3: This step is all about tackling the “I don’t know pile.” There will always be items that you know you don’t need to use during the sale of your house, but are unsure whether or not to donate these items or pack them for later use. Stick these items in the “I don’t know pile.” Even let your pile build up and come back to it after a long week of moving area by area in the previous steps. At the end of a long day, come back to that pile and ask yourself if you really need or even want to move any of those items, and chances are, you’ll donate most of it.
When you have completed all three steps in all areas of your house, the staging begins. Now it’s time to make your house a buyer’s dream by making it look magazine worthy and photo ready!
If you are serious about selling and you hope to get top dollar, don’t put off staging. Start now and create a game plan. There are few steps to keep in mind:
Staging is not just decluttering and depersonalizing. These are, however, important first steps. Go through each room and begin packing all of your unused items but don’t remove personality and create a sterile environment. Instead, focus on removing the clutter that you’ve been meaning to get to for weeks, months, or even years.
Finish (or start) all of those household projects. Save yourself a lot of stress and start a to-do list and work a little on it each week. It makes those tasks so much more manageable. Trying to finish all of these tasks, plus deep cleaning & packing, makes for a very stressful time if all left until the end. Most importantly, don’t assume that the buyers won’t care and can finish these tasks. You have the opportunity to complete them now so they don’t become price erosions in the future.
Dissociate yourself from your home. Let you home become an investment and not an emotional attachment. If you are too attached, don’t sell. If you have to sell, remind yourself that a staged home and lived in home are not the same thing. It’s not about buyers seeing your memories. It’s about buyers seeing the possibility to create their own memories.
Look at the competition. Get on-line at any of the various house selling websites and see what’s for sale in your market and what’s sold. Study the photography. Why? Over 95% of buyers shop on-line first. You’ll be able to quickly see the difference in a staged home and lived-in home.
Fall is in the air and fall decor is everywhere. Who doesn’t love the warm colors of fall and all that it embodies? However, be careful not to use seasonal decor in your listing photos.
Why? You’ll instantly date your listing. Before long we’ll be changing seasons and new decor will be coming in. On-line listings with seasonal decor will only give the impression to potential buyers that the house has been on the market for some time. Since we move through seasons so quickly this time of year, pictures with fall decor will be dated within weeks.
In addition, when home buyers envision themselves in new homes, they generally don’t picture seasonal decorations. Creating a beautiful on-line listing is about creating a lifestyle that home buyers want to call home. Staging to the functionality of a room and it’s focal point is what will sell a listing, not dated pictures.
Now, if you want to decorate your own living space with fall decor, I say go for it! Start at your local market and bring in some of these amazing heirloom pumpkins for a quick tablescape or front door arrangement.
Whether you are decorating for fall or preparing your house to sell, take some time to get out and enjoy this beautiful weather and have a happy fall ya’ll!
Whether you are preparing your house to sell or a realtor meeting with a client, these quick and easy occupied staging tips will get you started in the right direction:
Always clear off the front of the fridge. Often times the main message hub for the home, just clearing it off before listing photos and quickly stowing all notes prior to a listing appointment makes a kitchen look instantly larger and more open.
Try adding white accessories (such as flowers and towels) to add a bit of sparkle to any listing photo.
Want to make a space look bigger? Move out all small area rugs. These rugs create both distractions in listing photos and make a space feel smaller. The more continuous floor one sees, the larger the space will appear.
Clear out and pack up half of the contents of the closets. Buyers want to see space, not closet contents.
Dark leather sofas create black holes in listing photos. Brighten up any dark sofa with light accent pillows and throws.
Removing over-sized furniture pieces will instantly add square footage to any space.
To make a bathroom look bigger, put away all toiletries.
Open all window treatments to make a room brighter and appear more open prior to both listing photos and appointments.
Be sure to remove all trashcans from sight and close all toilet lids prior to listing photos. The house will instantly appear cleaner on-line.
Leave out only lifestyle items in the kitchen and clear away all stacks of paper. Watch your counter space grow.
Selling your house and trying to decide what needs to be done before listing it? Consider updating your paint color. This is an easy cosmetic fix, so we often assume buyers won’t mind making the changes themselves. Yet, the right colors have a powerful implication for buyers. So much so, that Zillow’s 2017 Paint Color Analysis actually puts monetary figures behind the color choices home buyers make.
Here’s some quick dos and don’ts based on the Zillow analysis:
Paint your bathrooms powder blue to periwinkle and not white to increase value.
Kitchens in light blues and grays sell higher than those in yellow
Dining rooms in slate blues, navy, or gray/blues sell more than those in red and copper colors
Go back to the blues for bedrooms, because a calming blue color will bring in more money
We still like our beige or taupes for our living rooms.
Take the guesswork out of your color choices by following these great color suggestions from Home Staging Resources:
Thinking of selling your house & feeling overwhelmed about where to start? Follow these room by room staging tips to help ease the pain (and, better yet, to get a top dollar offer).
Most people think home staging is cleaning, decluttering & depersonalizing. I prefer to think of it as creating a warm and inviting space for people to imagine the next chapter of their lives. Nice, right?
We live in an HGTV, Pinterest & Instagram kind of world. Good design is easily accessible and most home buyers expect to see it as they house hunt. After a long day of house hunting, which house is your friend going to tell you about: the one with the sterile bathroom or the one with the spa-like retreat?
Let’s talk about focal point, scale and symmetry. I know that sounds intimidating but stay with me. Each room has a focal point (or one can be created with the right furniture arrangement), and it is usually obvious. For example, in the kitchen it is generally the island and in the living room it is usually the fireplace. Our design choices can highlight those focal points or diminish them.
As for scale and symmetry, you know you are in a room with both of these traits when you walk in and it just feels right. A room with the giant leather sofa complete with cooler armrests generally feels out of scale in a small room (or any room outside a man cave). Just like an 8×10 picture hung too high above the dining room side board is also out of scale.
As for symmetry, not all things have to be even or the same (do you hear that, kids??) However, some symmetry, such as beautiful opposing sofas, will give a room that designer appeal.
Here are some basic room-by-room tips that everyone can apply. Yes, each room should be cleaned and decluttered. I know…that’s not my favorite part either. The first rule in home staging is: the packing and cleaning starts immediately!
“You get one chance to make a first impression!” You want the wow factor when potential buyers first drive up. People don’t want to see bikes, toys and juice box containers on the front lawn. Think clean, trimmed and landscaped. Don’t forget to freshen up the paint on the front door. If your hardware is out-of-date, it’s time to change it. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to change the doorknob, the front porch light fixture and house numbers. A little bit of effort can make a huge difference. Add pots of colorful plants and put down new mulch or pine straw. Also, don’t forget to change out your front doormat. No one wants to walk over an old worn out mat into their new home.
All entryways deserve some staging love, regardless of size. Your entryway should be both inviting and provide clean sight lines into the rest of the house. A chair in the corner or a side table anchored with a mirror or artwork is great if you have the space. However, a mirror or artwork works well alone in tight spaces.
You may have both, but many of the same rules apply. Make sure seating is arranged for easy conversation. You may already have all of your furniture pushed to the far walls of the room; and if you do, try bringing it in to create a grouping for conversation around the room’s focal point. You’ll be amazed how much bigger a room looks if the furniture is not pushed against the walls. Do you have an area rug? If yes, make sure at least the front feet of the couches are on the rug. Remove all of the toys, as this is not a playroom, but rather a place where family members can come and relax around a board game or a warm fire.
One of the most important rooms in the house and definitely one space where you will get some ROI (Return On Investment for those new to the biz). If your kitchen hasn’t been updated in a decade or so, try adding new cabinet hardware, update your lighting and freshen up your paint. Also, clear off the front of the fridge. No one wants to see your brother’s kid’s school picture and your vacation magnets. You will be amazed how much bigger the kitchen looks with just a few small updates. Next, clear off your counters. I know what you are thinking: “I’ll just leave the toaster because we use that a lot.” But even the toaster should go in a cabinet. You want prospective buyers to see their own toaster in your kitchen. If you have an island or bar, make sure this area is the focal point of the room.
So you don’t use it and you’ve turned it into an incredible craft room/playroom/hobby room/storage closet for all to see its contents. If this is true at your house, then it’s time to turn it back into a dining room. But, what if I don’t have a table? Now is the time to buy, borrow or rent one. Even if a buyer will never use the dining room to dine in, they like to envision themselves celebrating with family and loved ones around the dining room table. Try setting the table–you do not have to use fine china. Casual elegance will work best in most markets.
Make sure it is white glove clean and store all personal items. Buyers don’t want to see extra rolls of toilet paper and dental floss, plus you don’t want to give the impression of not enough storage. Think spa-like (candles and white fluffy towels), and absolutely no colored toilets!
Please do not pull your comforter/duvet all the way up to your matching pillows. Instead, think about folding the duvet halfway back and adding a throw and extra pillows. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes in your listing photos. Symmetry is important with side tables and lamps. They don’t have to be the exactly the same but they do need to be roughly the same size. In the kids, rooms, creative storage is the key for toys.
Clear off the tops of the washer and dryer and use baskets to store laundry and cleaning items. I once toured a house that my husband and I nicknamed “the house with a year’s worth of dirty laundry.” Make sure this is not the impression you give to potential buyers because after they’ve seen your mountain of laundry they may not be potential anymore
Consider packing up half of the contents. Let buyers see your closets, not your stuff.
Backyard, Patio, or Deck
As you are cleaning up the front yard, don’t forget the backyard. Do you have a place to sit and relax or a place where future buyers can imagine grilling or hosting a summer party? Spruce up your patio furniture with new pillows, put out pots of flowers and set the table.
Home staging can seem intimidating. Just take a deep breath–it’s not as hard as it seems and, of course, you can always hire a professional to help you.
Follow These 3 Basic Steps Before Listing Your House
There are numerous must do lists to follow while considering whether or not to put your house on the market. However, one thing is certain, the following three steps can’t be skipped if you want to a see a sale pending sign in your yard and receive a top dollar offer for your house.
Stage Your Property
Find a Great Realtor
Price it Right
Stage Your Property
Unless your house looks like a Southern Living Magazine photo, don’t ignore the staging step. Now is the time to finish all of the unfinished projects that have accumulated around the house. It’s also time to fix anything and everything that’s broken. Cleaning and decluttering are next. Ever thought about renting a storage unit? Now is the time. Clear out and begin packing everything you don’t use, even empty out half of the contents of your closets. Pack up all of your favorite collections. Your favorite sports memorabilia may not be your prospective buyer’s favorite. Clean up the yard and add lots of spring color. You only get one chance to make a first impression!
Find a Great Realtor
Don’t be afraid to interview several agents. This is the sale of your largest asset so you want to make sure you are in good hands. Look at their on-line profiles and check out how their other listings appear. An on-line presence is key since most home buyers shop on-line first. Also, look at their reviews. What are others saying about them? Ask for recommendations. Who sold your best friend’s house or your neighbor’s house? Most importantly, find someone you can trust, someone who will actively market your property, and someone who is credible in your market.
Price it Right
How do you price your house? First, don’t be tempted to start incredibly high, and second, don’t price it based on emotion. Use popular real estate sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia to see what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for–not what they are currently listed for–and you’ll have a better idea of your home’s current value. This is also where a valuable agent comes in handy. A good agent will provide a competitive market analysis. Work with your agent to decide how much room you should leave for negotiations, but don’t overreach because an overpriced house will sit on the market and as it sits, the price will drop.