Want to sell your home in a hurry?
There’s a “secret weapon” for that, Maggie Setler of Sewickley said.
It’s called home staging — the art of making your home as appealing as possible to today’s savvy buyers, who peruse dozens of photos online before ever setting foot in a house for sale.
“In addition to online listings, they check in with HGTV, Pinterest, and web sites like Houzz,” said Setler, whose company is Pittsburgh Staged Homes. “They want homes that look up-to-date and move-in ready. If they don’t like how it looks online, it doesn’t even make the list of houses to go see.”
Home staging can include minor repairs and updates, fresh paint and de-cluttering. It also means removing personal items like family photos, as well as arranging furniture, accessories and art in the most appealing way.
“The goal is to make the home look warm and inviting, allowing buyers to visualize the possibilities for the space,” Setler said. “When buyers can make an emotional connection to the house and see themselves living there, they are ready to buy.”
Interior designer Alison Hutchins, owner of Hutch & Home in Beaver Falls, offers home staging services in addition to selling new and vintage furniture.
“There are two basic types of staging,” she said. “One, I come in and re-arrange what you already have; two, if you’ve got an empty or flipped house, we bring out furniture and set it up to make the house look cozy.”
Once you’ve been living in a house for years, she said, your eye tends to gloss over clutter. That’s one reason it’s difficult to do your own staging.
“People tend to under-estimate how much tidying needs to be done,” Hutchins said. “A trained designer not only brings a fresh eye, but she knows about proportion and scale, and what makes a room flow better.”
Whether you go it alone or bring in a pro, some basics to keep in mind:
• Fresh bedding and linens are a must (plus, you can take them with you when you move.) Modern pillows and lampshades are inexpensive ways to update your home’s look, as well.
• Try to detach emotionally — as much as possible — from your home. One good tactic, said Setler: Take a photo of every room in your house from each entryway, and examine them on your computer — which is how they will appear to any potential buyer.
• In every room, streamline as much as you can. “Remove anything you don’t need right now, like out-of-season clothes,” said Setler. “Aim to have closets and storage spaces no more than three-quarters full. If you can’t store the boxes off-site they should be neatly stacked against the wall of the garage.”
• In kitchens, clear as much as possible from the counters. For bathrooms, think “hotel-like,” Setler advised. “Seeing your grooming products doesn’t make the buyer feel at home.”
Last, don’t assume you can’t afford professional staging; for occupied homes, the cost is generally between $150 and $500, Setler said. (Vacant homes averages $3,000 to $6,000.) “The common misconception is that staging is only for expensive homes or houses that are in terrible shape,” Setler said. “The reality is that staging helps all houses sell faster.”
For example, Setler recently staged a modestly priced home for a cost of $325. Once the Realtor saw the results, she suggested raising the price of the home by $2,500. “The house sold in one week for the full asking price, putting an extra $2,175 in the pocket of the seller,” said Setler. “That is the power of staging.”