Staging – tis the season!

Last week I attended a workshop on “staging your home to sell”.  I like to sign up for these types of classes to make sure I am “in the know” on the latest trends for the industry.  I’d like to say the entire experience was enlightening but I still can’t get past the woman in her 80’s who kept obsessing about her quilts…..

I was in a room with about 15 other interested parties and the gentleman presenting turned out to be a realtor. I gathered  his intention that evening was to  obtain new clients, meaning buyers and sellers.  All might have gone well,  if it weren’t for the sweet  elderly couple sitting in front of me trying to come to grips with what they need to do to sell the home they have lived in for the past 50 years.  That, coupled with the fact, the  wife (hereafter referring to her as grannie grace) is an avid, no perhaps I should say, professional quilter.  She brings up the subject about 20 times over the course of the evening.  Apparently, she has a entire room dedicated to the equipment she uses to quilt as well as several hundred rolls of fabric to choose from.  In fact, she states that she never needs to go to the store for fabric, she simply goes to her shelves and chooses whatever fabric she may need for a project.

This is  a “staging your home to sell” course,  so the presentor naturally tells grannie grace that she will  have to box the fabric rolls and store the equipment whilst she tries to sell because that room needs to be staged as a third bedroom.  Grannie grace was extremely agitated by this thought.  She quilts for cancer patients and underprivileged children, she cannot just stop what she does , that’s just not going to happen.  The presenter then remembered a comment from her earlier when she mentioned she had quilts hanging in many rooms of her home.  “These also should be removed” he tells her.  Grannie grace is beside herself insisting the quilts aren’t in every room….”one hanging in the quilt room, one in the dining room, quilts on the beds, one hanging in the basement……”

Enough said!  So this is how I spent my evening.  But even grannie grace and her neverending barrage of questions wasn’t what irritated me the most.  When grannie grace wasn’t asking questions about what to do with her quilts, the realtor went about presenting.  He mentioned  interesting facts about how a bedroom isn’t considered a bedroom unless it has an entryway and a closet (had to have a closet).  He states that a house has to have an oven to be considered a home (not a fridge but an oven).  He went on to discuss the difference between what he may offer a seller as far as staging versus an interior designer. He states “that if a seller hired an interior designer to stage she might paint your walls orange, or whatever was trendy that month. That a designer might recommend a fifty-thousand dollar kitchen renovation versus bare minimum to sell the home”…..

Naturally, I found myself responding to his comments in my head – jotting down key points so I would remember to put it in my blog.  Unless this realtor just has it out for designers, he must have had a really bad experience with an interior designer to come up with these comments.  Certainly he didn’t know that an interior designer is one of the key people a seller should consult with when it comes to staging their home for sale.  First, any good designer would never paint your home orange or any other bright pulpy color  knowing that you intend to sell your home.  Secondly, a great interior designer gets to know you because she wants you to call her again.  She wants your business not the one or two times you sell or buy a home in a lifetime but the endless times you need guidance and advice with your homes decorating needs.  Lastly, a designer keeps pace with the trends and knows when a re-do is a trendy upgrade or a timeless renovation.  Timeless meaning in ten years you shouldn’t have to rip it all out and start from square one again.

Below I have listed my top 5 must do’s in order to sell your home quickly:

1. De-personalize – yes, it’s true!  You need to remove all personal items from the home. That means all photos – on walls, dressers, shelving…everywhere.  You want the buyer to enter your home and feel like they can envision their family living there.  If they see cute pics of you and your kids they are not going to do that.

2. De-clutter – LESS IS MORE!  Rent a storage unit if you must , but pack away anything and everything that is not necessary in the next 2-3 months.  Use the opportunity to do the spring cleaning you haven’t done in years.  Items can be categorized in one of four ways:  Keeper (2 year window – used or tobeused), Donatable (tax write-off), Junk (throw it), and only if it can fit in a small keepsake box: Memorabelia.

3. FIX what is obviously BROKEN – any seller walking into your home is going to pass judgement immediately on how well maintained your home is INSIDE AND OUT.  If faucets drip, a water heater is rusty, walls are dinged, bathrooms are moldy, the yard is unkempt – the buyer will begin itemizing all the things they need to fix and they will not return!

4. Go NEUTRAL – make sure the paint on the walls is NEUTRAL, the carpet color is NEUTRAL, the furniture, window treatments – if in doubt , go NEUTRAL.  Neutral goes with everything so the buyer will know they can move right in and not have to change anything right away.

5. ODOR – you don’t want your home to smell like you and what your family had for dinner last night.  The buyer should enter and there should be no specific odor. Run lemons through the garbage disposal on a daily basis, take the garbage out everyday.  Clean the oven and air out the house daily.  The fresher the better.

That’s a pretty good start – but if you need more help – keep an eye out on my website and blog for new staging packages and a new partnership to be announced between La Bella Casa Interior Designs and another one of my partners in the industry “to be announced”