You are sitting in the office of the CEO of a company you would love to work for. You’ve prepared for this moment. Hair in place, crisp suit on, well scripted cover letter and flawless resume in hand. You are ready with your best foot forward. You nail the interview! You are hired on the spot! Congratulations! All of your preparation has paid off!
Similarly, when selling your home, making sure your home is interview (market) ready is one of the most important aspects on which to focus. Each potential buyer is interviewing your home. Is it a good fit for their needs? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your property? Essentially, is your home a qualified candidate to meet and exceed expectations to get the job done?
A well-presented or poorly presented property can make a tremendous impact on the bottom line. Selling Price. Have you ever looked at on-line photos of a property for sale and all you can see is an overgrown yard or clutter? Or even photos of a room that contains so much furniture, just looking at it makes you feel claustrophobic? What about the photos of rooms that you can’t even determine what the room is or how it should be used? Those cringe-worthy photos are a seller’s worst nightmare. A buyer will quickly move on to another property with the simple click of a button. A well-presented home AND professional photography is the key to getting potential buyers in your door. A Home Stager, who is familiar with your real estate market can be a great asset in getting your home interview (market) ready.
As a Realtor-Stager, my main objective is to help my clients get their property sold as quickly as possible and for top dollar. It is sometimes difficult for sellers to understand the "Whys" of home staging. Here are a few of the points that I discuss with my clients to help them understand why home staging is an integral part of marketing their property:
1. Fresh Perspective
Living in a home and marketing a home are two very different things. We become accustomed to our spaces and how we live. It’s just a simple fact and we all do it, myself included. We don’t live in "show ready" homes. However, in today’s fast moving real estate climate, you have to spell it out for buyers. They don’t have the time or the patience to look beyond pet beds and trophy collections. When you list your home, you have to emotionally detach yourself from the property. Yes, technically it is your property, but detaching emotionally can be a huge step towards the ultimate goal, a SOLD property! You want Buyer’s to mentally move in. A Home Stager has the professional expertise of how to make a property a "neutral zone" thereby, appealing to the most buyers. A Home Stager creates the narrative of the home that allows the potential buyer to fill in the details.
Pro Tip-Remove the family photos, diplomas and anything with your personal information. Some in this industry disagree with this because they believe these items give the property a homey, lived in feeling. I am of the opinion that a personalized home is not a "neutral zone". Also, when potential buyers tour your home, you want them to see your lovely home, not you family vacation pictures.
2. Form over Function or Function over Form?
There are many talented Interior Designers out there and they are fabulous at what they do. Believe me, I spend hours poring over magazines and pinning away on Pinterest to get great design inspiration for my own home. However, there is a difference between a well decorated home and a well-staged home. An Interior Decorator designs for how you live, a Home Stager designs for how to market and sell a home. A Home Stager can quickly determine what needs to be added or edited from a space. They know what areas of your home need to be highlighted for its form and what spaces should be highlighted for its function. For example, perhaps that bedroom you have used as a guest room since you purchased the home, would be better suited as a home gym or office. And maybe those stunning drapes you had custom made, need to be removed to showcase that gorgeous picture window and view. A Home Stager’s job is not to simply make your home look pretty, but to make your home marketable.
Pro Tip-Let the light in! Make sure all windows are clean and function property. If you have hazy windows, have them professionally cleaned or have them replaced. Buyers only see dollar signs and more work for themselves when they see old, dirty windows. You also don’t want to give the impression that the home was not well maintained.
No seller wants to get the call from their Realtor that the selling price needs to be decreased. Nor would you want the property to sit on the market with little or no activity. You have to consider the most important factors. Is it suitably priced for the current market? Is it being advertised and marketed effectively? Think of home staging as an equity finder. The small investment in having a property professionally staged can mean more money in your pocket. You will also have the peace of mind that you have done all you can to have your home market ready. It costs a lot less to have your property professionally staged than it does to reduce your list price later. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey found that the longer homes stay on the market, the further their price drops. Once staged, homes spend an average of 73% less time on the market!
"If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur."
- Red Adair
Part one of a three-part Home Staging/Market Ready Series. Allison is a licensed real estate agent who has been selling and staging homes in Arkansas since 2014. As a Realtor-Stager, she combines a passion for the real estate industry, a background in marketing and an eye for design to help her clients reach their real estate goals. She currently serves as the Fort Smith Board of Realtors Vice President, is a graduate of the Realtor Leadership Academy and was awarded 2016 Rookie Realtor of the Year. House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.