Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to stage your home to sell, by Shelley Hopkins

Images from Google images

As a Real Estate agent and a homeowner, I have had some interesting experiences previewing and showing homes.  A home is a reflection of those that live there.  The homes can reflect the lifestyle of busy families, or the enthusiasm of sports fans.  Some homes are so beautifully decorated I feel like I am in a photo shoot for a home magazine.  I always return to my house with redecorating plans.  Recently I enjoyed showing the home of an artist.  I loved his painting of a shark shooting through the water, bubbles flying away from the fish.  Twice I have been in homes that had paintings of nudes.  I was not offended, but I will say the memory of the home, the size of the kitchen or the color of the walls, faded in my mind.  This was especially true in the home where the owner stayed to talk with us, and I realized she was the model. 
            Owners should never stay during showings.  The potential buyer doesn’t relax, and really look at the home.  If the owner has to stay, he should go outside, or walk around the block.
            Staging is important.  I don’t believe perfection is necessary but there are several things to consider.  When a potential buyer enters a house for the first time, the buyer looks at the house with many thoughts in his mind.  “Will we be happy here?  Will all of our stuff fit?  Can we afford this?  Can we resale this home someday?” 
            At the same time they are forming first impressions based on all their senses.  How does it look – clean, cluttered, outdated?  How does the home smell?  What can they hear?  First impressions are important, and sometimes hard to overcome.
            When we pull into the driveway they buyer sees either overgrown bushes, weeds, and a dingy front door, or bright freshly planted flowers and a shiny door.  Once inside, if the curtains are closed and the lights off, the house feels dreary.  Sunlight streaming in from the windows makes a home feel cheerful and welcoming.  We all try to see past the decorations and furniture, but this is hard to do.  Cluttered homes full of knick-knacks and large furniture feel smaller.

Images from google images         

   Recently I showed a nice home.  The owners were gone.  They left a dog in the house, and a bone on the table with a note to give the bone to “Fido.”  I did, nervously, and Fido jumped on the couch to enjoy his treat and to keep an eye on us.  The TV was on, commercials sang to us as we looked around the house.  The client and I walked down the hall, and checked out the bedrooms.  As we returned towards the family room, I reached out to open a closet door.  Just then, a male voice boomed, “Don’t go in there!”  I jumped back and looked around fearfully.  No one was around.  Hurrying to leave we walked past the television.  The reality TV show Ghost Hunters was playing, the message to not go in there had not been for me.

            I would suggest not leaving the television on during showings.  It makes the house feel occupied.  Andy Griffith talking to me is OK, but Ghost Hunters yelling at me is not so nice.  It does make for a good story.  And the client didn’t buy that house.