If you’ve ever gone to a high-end open house, chances are you have witnessed the work of a “stager.” That is, someone who is hired by a seller or their real estate agent to come in and present the house in a way that resonates with potential buyers. Although this can be an extremely useful tool to entice buyers, it can also be very expensive. After all, this can sometimes call for brand new furniture, appliances, or artwork to be brought in for a length of time, all at the seller’s expense. If you decide that you’re ready to put your house on the market, but aren’t sure if you can spring for a stager -- here are some simple steps you can take to make buyers fall in love with your property… and get it off the market.
1) Think like a homebuyer: Take a walk through your home and try to imagine it like you’re seeing it for the first time. Does it have an open feel? Can you easily navigate the space? The set-up you’ve grown used to may seem stale to an outside buyer. Consider moving the furniture around to create a different flow to the house, put any extra furniture into storage, and move out the clutter – whether it’s an overabundance of kids’ toys, or piles of scattered files in your home office. Too much “stuff” can create visual stress, and that’s the last sentiment you want potential buyers to feel.
2) De-personalize your home for open houses: while it may be the last thing on your mind, you need to make the house friendly to other families. When people walk in to your home, they need to be able to envision themselves living there, which is difficult to do with family portraits and photos of children all over the walls. For scheduled open houses, put away some or all of your tabletop framed photos. It may seem bare to you but will appear clean and uncluttered to your buyers. Buyers are much more likely to move on homes that they can picture as their own.
3) Control the amount of light that comes into the home: In the living rooms, be sure to keep the shades open, and the furniture away from the windows to ensure that you get the most natural light possible. In smaller rooms that are particularly dark, think of investing in a floor lamp or other artificial light source. Controlling the light levels throughout the home can make it more inviting, and can even make certain rooms seem larger than they really are.
4) Create a welcoming atmosphere on open house days: On days when you are hosting potential buyers, you need to create a welcoming atmosphere that appeals to their senses. Try playing music at a low volume to give the home a calming ambience. Flowers can provide a pleasant and soothing scent. Opening a few windows can keep the air fresh. And…adjusting the thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the house can all create a mood: that your home is your refuge.
Before you embark on a major overhaul of your living space, consider consulting a real estate agent. They have literally seen it all, and more often than not, their prior experience with stagers will provide additional tips that may be more specific to your home.