Excerpted from: Staging Your Home: How to Make Buyers Fall in Love, By: HouseLogic published: April 12, 2018
A recent survey from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® revealed that:
77% of buyers’ agents said staging makes it easier for their buyer to visualize the property as their future home. It’s like helping the buyer dream it so they can achieve it — and so you and your agent can make the sale.
39% of sellers’ agents said staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time a house is on the market. For you, time saved could mean moving into your new house even sooner.
21% of sellers’ agents said staging a home increases its dollar value between 6% and 10%. Simply put, that may lead to more money in your pocket.
Premiere Stagers & Realty offers staging services to clients as part of their listing services.
Staging costs vary depending on where you live and how many rooms you’re staging. On average, home sellers pay between $1200 and $2500 for vacant staging for 60 days.
Premiere Stagers & Realty offers consultations for $165 for 1.5 hours, plus a written report. Using the advice you learn during the consultation may be your best option if you’re on a tight budget.
What You Should Do
No buyer wants to walk into a messy house. Psychologically, buyers will think the house was not well-cared for.
So, take time to clean and declutter your home. Organize everyday household items into crates and keep them out of sight. Stow away seasonal decorations. Make time for — or invest in — a whole-house cleaning, including carpet shampooing and window washing. Change out light bulbs, make those minor repairs, and add a fresh coat of paint to any room that needs it. Clean out closet spaces and cabinetry— because buyers will open them to see how much space there is.
Remove personal items from view, such as family photos, questionable artwork, or religious keepsakes. The goal is to neutralize the space and help home buyers imagine themselves living there.
Make an Emotional Connection
You don’t have to stage your whole house for buyers to make an emotional connection.
Staging the rooms where people tend to spend the most time usually makes the biggest impression on buyers. Start with the main living room, dining room, kitchen and powder room. Follow up with the master bedroom and bath. You can leave the extra bedrooms and lower level family room vacant.
Even small touches, like a new door mat, new towels and bedding, and subtle nice smells make a difference.
Don’t forget to spruce up the exterior surfaces and landscaping, no matter what the season.
Contact a Professional
For more tips, ideas, and information, contact Premiere Stagers & Realty at 608-345-9396. Ask me how I can make your house more efficient and comfortable for you, or alternatively, how I can make your house stand out from amongst the competition and get it sold.
During consultations, I always get asked what the homeowners should do in the way of renovations, updates, or upgrades before they list their house. I wonder why they didn’t do some of these beforehand for their own enjoyment. Sometimes, however, they did enjoy their choices, but know that their choices were quite taste-specific.
Textured Walls or Ceilings
A main bathroom had a type of textured paint or skim coat on the walls. The client asked whether they should paint over this or remove the texture. Textured walls or popcorn ceilings harbor dust and are very difficult to paint over. I recommend removing any texture and then paint with a neutral palette.
Almost everyone asks whether they should paint before listing. It depends. Paint colors go out of style in about 8 years. Some colors are classic and are almost timeless.
The green color was not the right shade for this area. The whole house interior received new paint colors in three shades: light gray, light-bluish gray, and an off-white gray.
This orange color was used sparingly in this hallway and on one office wall. However, there were touches of orange in the fabrics, rugs, and wall art that coordinated with this color. It was a hit with the new homeowners.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
These are the two rooms that will give you the most return on your investment. It is imperative that these rooms are squeaky clean and fresh-looking. That might mean replacing the laminate counter tops with a quartz-like material. It might mean re-facing the cabinet fronts, or painting them. It might mean replacing the bathroom vanity with a taller unit. It also might mean replacing the cabinet hardware or light fixtures.
Before you do any renovations, make sure your house is de-cluttered and cleaned. Then do the minor repairs such as: tighten a leaky faucet, replace a torn screen or non-functioning item, and refresh the landscaping. After that, tackle the code requirements, such as installing GFI outlets where needed or smoke/CO2 detectors on each level.
You might want to consult with a home stager or realtor to advise on the renovations that will recoup some or most of your investment. A lot of times, I recommend fewer changes than the homeowner thinks.
Call Premiere Stagers & Realty for a consultation at 608-345-9396.
Condominiums are great places to live for people who are just starting out or for people who are down-sizing. Some condos are in large complexes that offer a swimming pool, tennis courts, a work-out room, golf course, or a clubhouse for parties. Other condos are like a single-family home with their own entrance and detached from other units.
Selling a condo is quite different from selling a single-family home.
Limited Common Elements
There are common elements within the condo association that are used by all unit owners and taken care of by the Association through the use of dues or fees. Then there are limited common elements which are reserved for the exclusive use of the respective owner. These include garages, patios, decks, storage units, and entrance walkways. These are the responsibility of the respective unit owner.
When selling, you need to provide the prospective buyer with certain documents within 10 days of acceptance of the “Residential Condominium Offer to Purchase.” These include the Articles of Incorporation, Condominium Rules or Declarations, a Condition Report, an Executive Summary, and any notice of a pending special assessment. The prospective buyer has 5 business days after receiving these documents to rescind their offer by providing a written notice to the seller. Note, however, that the Condition Report is only applicable to the condition of the owner’s unit and their limited common elements.
Each condo association is made up of all the unit owners. Each unit owner has one vote, regardless of the size of their unit. However, when assessing common element expenses, the units are divided by their respective unit sizes. Meaning, a three-bedroom condo will be assessed more than a one-bedroom condo.
The association may vote to hire a management company for property management and/or fiscal management, or they may elect particular persons to perform these tasks.
Condos are a unique community in that you will need to get to know your neighbors since they have a stake in your quality of living. Everyone has a say (by voting) whether to repair, reconstruct, or to remove certain common elements. If you have particular issues with the way the condo association conducts its business, you will certainly need to attend the meetings and perhaps be elected to a position. You may need some negotiating skills to find common ground between opposing views.
Is a Condo in your Future?
Living in a condo affords connections with other people. It can give peace of mind knowing there are others around if help is needed. It can offer friendships and camaraderie. The amenities (pool, golf course, clubhouse) are great gathering places and get people out of their units. The association fees take care of lawn mowing and snow removal, plus the upkeep of the common spaces. There is a property management person you can call on when your sink is plugged. A condo also works for people who go South for the winter.
However, if you are the type of person who values their privacy, has difficulty assimilating with others, enjoys doing lawn care or snow removal, and doesn’t want to be bothered, then a condo might not be your best choice.
Buying a Condo?
As of this posting, there were 404 condo units available for sale compared with 1921 single family homes within Dane County, WI.
Each condo unit will come with its own set of condominium rules, by-laws, special assessments, and condition reports. Be sure you are familiar with these documents before or shortly after you submit an Offer to Purchase.
Contact Premiere Stagers & Realty to get your condo ready to sell and then list or as a buyer’s agent. 608-345-9396.
Few words get home buyers more excited than these two: open house.
An open house is their opportunity to give your house a whirl. To wiggle the light switches. To admire the crown molding. To, y’know, awkwardly ask to use the bathroom. (Which, by the way, savvy buyers will totally do — because they’ll want to test how the water pressure holds up when they give the toilet a flush.)
For you, the seller, an open house is a chance to throw open the doors; to dazzle buyers with the big reveal; to make someone fall head over heels for your charming abode.
These tricks can help you make your open house a massive hit.
1. Time It Right
Your agent will typically hold an open house for two to three hours between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and/or Sundays, when buyers have time and flexibility away from their jobs. To maximize your foot traffic, avoid having your open house during holidays, big community events, or unofficial “holidays” like Super Bowl Sunday.
2. Let Your Agent Take the Lead
In your own personal Open House Show, your real estate agent has two roles. To you, they are the director, giving you instructions on how to prepare for open house day, and what to do during the event. To buyers, your agent is the host. They will welcome viewers, introduce your home’s impressive features, and take questions from the audience.
Your job is to make your house look like a million bucks — or more like $375,000, depending on your price range.
The job of your agent, an expert on your local real estate market and what makes buyers tick, is to take care of the rest. That will include:
Staging your home, or recommending a reputable stager that you can hire
Hosting the open house
Communicating with home buyers and buyers’ agents
Receiving feedback during the open house and communicating that feedback to you
Your agent will also recommend that you should probably leave while they show off your house to strangers, who will look under your sinks and peek into your closets. Why should you heed that advice? Because it makes good business sense for you.
A home owner’s presence can make it awkward for the buyer. Buyers want to make assessments on their own, without worrying about how the seller might react or try to influence them.
Buyers may have trouble picturing themselves living in the house when the owner is right there, say, serving lemonade in the kitchen.
Sometimes sellers say too much. You might point out something that you think is a nice feature or amenity of your home, when it’s something that might turn off a buyer. (That busy arcade bar down the block may have been your favorite place to meet friends and play Pac-Man during weekends, but it could be a deal breaker for a buyer looking for a peaceful block.) You might blurt out something that could tip your negotiating hand, like how motivated you are to sell (soon!), or that you always wanted to update the retro kitchen — but just never got around to it.
The last things you want buyers to think after the open house is, “This place needs work,” or “This seller is desperate — I have the upper hand.” So, let your agent take the lead. This won’t be their first rodeo. They know the nuanced ways to show your home in its best light so that buyers will oooh and ahhh. They also know how to strategically answer questions from buyers to help set you up for success later, during negotiation.
Your agent can also stage a broker’s open house on your behalf.Unlike standard open houses — where buyers can stop by — at broker’s open houses, only real estate agents and other industry professionals are invited to attend. Generally, a broker’s open is held within the first few days of a house being put on the market. Complimentary lunch is often served as an incentive to get more people to show up.
There are two main benefits of having a broker’s open house:
It gives your listing more exposure.
It allows you to get feedback from real estate agents on your home.
If your house “shows well,” as they say in the industry, the agents who toured your home may recommend it to one (or more) of their buyer clients. If your home doesn’t get rave reviews, your agent will relay that feedback to you, and may suggest improvements before the next open house, such as staging certain rooms.
3. Try Some Simple Staging
You want your home to look its best while it’s on the market — especially during the open house. Many agents say the best way to primp your home for its big day is to stage it.
Depending on what your agent recommends, staging may involve renting new furniture or decor for certain rooms in your home. There are also some easy staging tricks you can try on the day of your open house. Consider displaying a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entryway, setting your dining room table to make it look inviting, or turning on your outdoor sprinklers shortly before visitors arrive to make your lawn sparkle.
4. Clean Like Crazy
When your home is on the market, you need to keep it in showing shape — not only for the open house, but also for any scheduled showings with buyers. Even though you’ve already (hopefully) cleaned and organized your home for its listing photos, there’s a good chance you’ve let clutter or dust pile up again, especially if you have children or pets.
Make sure appliances, windows, and mirrors are fingerprint-free. Clean and organize your closets, cabinets, and under the sinks (during the open house, buyers are allowed to be nosy). Clear every bit of clutter and get rid of it or put it in storage.
Don’t have the bandwidth to do a deep clean? Hire a house cleaning service to do the work for you. A professional cleaning service costs around $230-$275 on average. If you’re not sure about which service to hire, ask your agent to recommend cleaners.
5. Do a Smell Check
If buyers get a whiff of something funky, they’re going to run — not walk — out of your open house. A week prior to the open house, ask your agent or a neighbor to do an honest, no-holds-barred smell check. Some possible smell solutions:
If your house has the aroma of your beloved pet(s), deep clean the carpets, relocate the litter box, and take steps to eliminate all olfactory traces of Fluffy.
If the basement is dank and musty, buy a dehumidifier to remove air moisture and run a fan to circulate the air.
If the kitchen drain stinks, drop in a cup of baking soda, then two cups of white vinegar. Enjoy the bubbling, then let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Finally run hot water for 15 to 30 seconds to flush the odor.
6. Put Your Pictures (and Valuables) Away
You want your home to feel cozy and inviting, but not like someone specific (you, for example) is living there. Personal belongings such as family photos, awards, and religious art can distract home buyers and make it harder for them to imagine themselves living in your home. You don’t have to go overboard — the idea isn’t to eliminate every trace of yourself — but consider temporarily hiding some pictures and personal effects out of sight during the open house.
There’s a safety element to stowing your personal belongings, too: Though your agent will be at the open house, you’re inviting strangers into your home.
Securely store checkbooks, jewelry, prescription medications, family heirlooms, and other valuables.
Alert your neighbors to your open house date — as a courtesy, but also to ask that they let you know if they notice any suspicious activity, in the unlikely event suspicious activity occurs.
Make sure your agent signs visitors in and asks them to show I.D., so that you have a record of who was in your house. (Bonus: With the sign-in sheet, your agent can follow up with buyers to find out if anyone is interested in making an offer.)
Lock windows and doors after the open house.
We’re not suggesting that visitors have any intention other than potentially buying your home. It’s just a good idea, generally speaking, to keep your home secure.
7. Let the Light In
Light doesn’t only (literally) brighten up your space. It also makes rooms look and feel larger. On open house day, open all curtains and blinds to let natural light in. (And in the week before the open house, make sure curtains and blinds are squeaky clean.)
Replace every single burnt-out light bulb in and outside the home — buyers should see a working light every time they flip a switch.
8. Give Your House Some Extra Curb Appeal
Buyers will judge your house on its outsides. So make last-minute improvements to turn up your home’s appeal. Cut the grass, prune the trees, and trim the shrubs. Touch up porch fixtures and furniture with a little paint. Heck, paint the whole porch, if your budget allows. Plant new shrubs or set out potted flowers.
Small, relatively low-budget outdoor enhancements will make your home look all the more enticing to buyers — and can add some last-minute value to its price.
9. Draw Attention to Your Home’s Best Features
After your agent signs in and welcomes buyers to your home, they typically will have some time to wander around on their own. Have a list of “not-to-miss” features.
10. Serve Refreshments
Serving warm cookies or freshly baked brownies at an open house is one of the oldest tricks in the book. That’s because it works: Buyers love being greeted with a sweet treat and a cold or warm beverage depending on the time of year. Refreshments also give people a reason to stay longer: No one will rush off because they’re hungry or thirsty.
What to Do During and After the Open House
Once you’ve done everything you can to make your house look and feel amazing to buyers — and your agent is on site to assume their hosting duties — the time during your open house is yours to enjoy. Go to the park, get a three-course lunch, do whatever you like as long as you’re free to take calls.
Your agent may need to get in touch with questions, so make sure you’re available and have good cell phone reception. (A movie, for example, is not a great activity for you during the open house for that reason.)
After the open house ends, your agent will share with you what questions buyers asked and any comments they overheard by visitors. Buyers’ remarks will likely run the gamut, including some that could be negative. (“Why is the closet such a mess,” for example.)
The important thing is to stay open to buyers’ feedback, and to follow your agent’s advice about how to respond. Based on buyers’ reactions, your agent may recommend that you make certain repairs, do some painting, or invest in additional staging before your next open house. Whatever they advise, it’s not personal — it’s just the business of selling your home.
Premiere Stagers & Realty rarely stages rental units, usually because they get rented quickly in Madison, WI. In this case, however, the rental agents were not quickly renting out their 3-bedroom townhouses. Townhouses are such a great idea for young families, roommates, students, or people wanting more privacy than a typical apartment. This townhouse has 3 bedrooms upstairs and a basement with storage, its own washer and dryer, plus a family room.
No matter if a rental or not, most vacant rooms look smaller. People are hard-pressed to visualize if their belongings can fit without some frame of reference, such as furniture and accessories.
The rental agents said it was the third bedroom that was most problematic for potential renters. They could not imagine even a single bed fitting within the room. I agree if the headboard was positioned on either wall, it would cut the room in half, making it less efficient with little floor space. However, by putting the bed up against the window, the closet is easily accessible.
The kitchen has full-sized appliances and can accommodate informal dining near the window (out of sight on right). There are shelves located behind the door to the basement, making efficient pantry space. The coat closet and powder room are nestled within the hallway.
Basement Family Room
This space is perfect for TV watching or video-gaming. The kids would also enjoy playing foosball or air hockey, or board games. It could also be set up as a home office as it provides quiet, private time. Just beyond the door is the basement storage and washer/dryer.
Master and 2nd Bedrooms
The master bedroom is similar in size to the 2nd bedroom, however, the closet is slightly larger. So, if two roommates are renting, each will have a similar sized bedroom and the third bedroom could be used as an office. The main bathroom is just down the hall.
This 3-bedroom townhouse is easily accessible whether traveling to the west or east side of Madison. My vacant staging statistics make it likely all these larger units will be rented soon. The rental agents have wisely chosen to highlight this unit with an online video.
Call Premiere Stagers & Realty for any of your staging or selling needs. 608-345-9396.
This condo complex is on the north side of Madison, WI. It boasts a community room, in-ground pools, indoor tennis courts, and a nice golf course. The owners of this condo apparently loved the way the green grass looked that they carried that look indoors in their wall-to-wall carpet.
The carpet is in great shape, but is not everyone’s “cup of tea.” Premiere Stagers & Realty chose complementary colors such as navy blue with a touch of orange to tone down the green.
The dining room can be both casual or formal. The orange/bronze canvas complements the green colors on the wall and the carpet.
The sun room is off the living room, yet gives some quiet, reflective time to those who want to read. You could also put the TV in this area if you want to make it into a den.
Adjacent to the sun room is the office, separated by French doors for privacy. It’s a wonderful place to work from home or catch up on email or investments.
There is a master bedroom ensuite, whereas the second bedroom has a bathroom across the hall.
The kitchen is flooded with natural light from a skylight. The laundry closet is just past the refrigerator. There is a place to sit while waiting for the oven or microwave, or perusing through cookbooks.
The amenities mentioned above, plus underground parking and an elevator are sure to entice anyone looking to down-size. Perhaps golfers will want to keep the green carpet so as to practice their putting inside. However, replacing carpet is an easy thing to change.
Call Premiere Stagers and Realty to help staging or selling your place. 608-345-9396