According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staging a house before putting it on the market will help you sell your home 90% faster. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to hire a staging company. However, we can work to create a beautiful home before the “For Sale” sign goes up.
Thank you to Robin Cook and Meagan Carmichael of Cook and Carmichael Redesign for telling us everything we need to know about staging a house on a budget. They had so many helpful tips, that I couldn’t fit it all into one post. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Staging a House on a Budget.
When staging a house, identify your audience
Figure out who might be buying your house. Is your buyer single, a young couple, a growing family, or an empty nester? You can identify your audience by looking around your neighborhood or by asking a realtor or friend. Cook explains that home sellers often move because they’ve made the transition from one audience to another, from single to married or from buying a starter house to growing out of it: “In essence, sellers should think about what they were when they purchased the home.”
Once you know who your audience is, you can focus on staging a house in a way that appeals to your audience. For example, if you live in a family-friendly neighborhood, you may consider making a room a nursery or possibly creating an au pair suite. If, on the other hand, you are marketing to someone who is single or an empty nester, that room might be better staged as a home office.
Create a staging budget
Decide how much money you can spend on staging your home. Carmichael says, “If you only have $300, you might identify one room that has to be painted and that’s where it will go.” Cook agrees that, no matter your budget, everyone needs to stage their house. “You don’t always need a stager, but you always need to stage.”
Start the process of staging a house early
The process of staging a house begins before you put it on the market. You’ll want your house in prime shape for when you take those gorgeous pictures that will sell your house. Cook advises spending a week or two up front to start the staging. You don’t want to have your house sit on the market and then make the decision to put things into storage. At that point, it’s harder for buyers to see your home with fresh eyes.
Get your honest friend to do a home walk-through
Ask three friends to walk-through your house and to give you an honest assessment of what you should change. Maybe you have a designer friend or someone who loves HGTV and rearranging furniture. Carmichael stresses the importance of inviting someone over who won’t be afraid to tell you how it is, “We all have that honest friend that can say, ‘that’s got to go.’” Invite her over. Also, keep your target audience in mind. If you’re marketing to an empty nester, invite your mom’s honest friend over to do an assessment.
De-clutter and get rid of everything
There’s no point in moving things that you don’t want to keep. Start the decluttering process and get your kids involved, too. Cook says that you should begin thinking about what you don’t plan on moving and get rid of it. If you have items that you don’t need right now, start packing them up “ideally, out of the house.”
Find real storage – your garage doesn’t count
When I asked Cook and Carmichael how important it was to get storage for your moving boxes and furniture, they answered in unison, “VERY!” From their company’s research, they’ve found pods to be the most expensive. Therefore, they recommend finding a public storage facility. A basement or a friend’s garage are also good, inexpensive options.
Cook stresses the fact that your garage is not a storage space. Your garage is for your car. You can use your attic or your basement to store your moving boxes, but it should be neat and organized so that buyers will look at it and say, “I can also have that beautifully neat and organized space.” For sellers who don’t have the funds to rent storage space, Cook says, “they just have to be über, über organized and get rid of as much stuff that they don’t need.”
Do a deep, thorough home-cleaning
Once you’ve decluttered and organized your home, it’s time to do a thorough cleaning. Kitchens and bathrooms are highly important to buyers. While they don’t require as much work from a staging standpoint, the cleanliness of your kitchen and bathrooms will help you sell your home.
Patch and paint
Patch up any unsightly cracks or blemishes on your walls. Then, it’s time to paint. Carmichael explains how important painting can be, “It’s transformative. It’s a great return on investment.” The paint colors that Cook and Carmichael prefer are an off-white paint called Halo and a greyish-blue paint called Eternity, which works well in bedrooms. To keep costs low, use the same color throughout the home. Cook and Carmichael’s preference: “One coat, one color.”
You’ve decluttered, put things in storage, organized, cleaned your house, patched and painted. Next week, Cook and Carmichael share their secrets to adding those finishing touches.
Image posted with permission from the Real Estate Staging Association.