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2010-02-23 21:25:35

Think Like A Buyer, Stage Like A Pro


Staging your home to sell is very different from decorating your home to live in it.
You decorate your home with your own taste, colors, furniture, layout, and personal momentoes and collections. Staging is the art of decorating to sell a home quickly and for top dollar, says staging diva Debra Gould. See:
To sell a home quickly and for top dollar, you must be proactive in preparing your home for the market. Some sellers feel that making changes before packing and moving is simply too labor-intensive, but don’t make the same mistake.
When you hire a real estate professional to market your home, one of the first things you should discuss is how to make your home more attractive to buyers.
Many real estate professionals are expert stagers because nearly every home needs some staging to compete in today’s marketplace.
Here are a few staging tips that you can easily do yourself: 
Think Like a Buyer
You’re about to sell your home, so put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. The goal is to sell fast and for the most money, so stop thinking about your home as your home and start treating it like the buyer’s home.
Your job is to make your home appeal to the broadest range of buyers possible – singles, couples, young families with children, empty nesters, and other kinds of households. Each of these buyers is highly individual, so the chances that your buyer has exactly your taste are slim.
Think in terms of the buyer as being different from you and be willing to help them see the possibilities in your home. You’ll be more likely to act on suggestions if it’s your idea to make changes.
Ask your real estate professional for the latest buyer hot buttons – what are their attitudes, how do they like to live? What paint colors are “in?”
Today, decorating is moving toward clean lines and uncluttered table tops, so you already know what will appeal to buyers. Fortunately, this trend encompasses many decorating styles, including Shaker simplicity, Arts and Crafts, and modern minimalism.. 
Curb Appeal is Crucial
The first impression of a home is its curb appeal. What shape is your front yard in? Is the walkway and driveway clear of toys and debris? Are there any decorative items other than flower pots on the porch? Are the shrubs trimmed? Are the windows washed? Does the exterior need power washing? 
The first rule of staging is to clean and remove all clutter, and that includes outdoors as well.
Paint your front door a fresh new hue, and put a brand-new doormat down, and pots of flowers if there’s room. 
Make sure the front door opens into a clean uncluttered space where buyers can pause, view the layout, and get a flavor for their next home.   
Shabby Isn’t Chic
Worn carpet, chipped tile, scratched appliances, faded wallpaper, nicked door trims, stick-on mats in the bathtub, stained furniture, sun-bleached curtains, etc. are all turn-offs to a buyer. 
Yes, it’s an investment to take care of these items and replace them, but a home-stager can recommend repairs and updates that give you a return on investment that outweighs the cost and inconvenience.    
Organize Every Nook
Part of staging is getting all but essentials out of the house, even if you have to put them in a temporary storage facility.
The reason is that buyers look everywhere - in every drawer, cabinet, and closet. If you have crowded or unorganized spaces, buyers will assume there isn’t enough room in the house.
Start by sorting your things into keep, donate, or throw away piles. 
Buy organizer tubs with locking snap covers and start room by room.   Pack away anything you know you won’t need for a few months. Label each box with the room it belongs in and a rough idea of the contents. Just think of it as packing to move a little early. You’ll be glad you’ll have less to do later when you really are moving.
Drag a tall trash bin into each room for discards and get rid of anything you don’t use regularly.
Keep a few organizer tubs or boxes for resale or donation. You are more likely to discard something if someone else can use it. 
Go With the Flow
Traffic flow is very important in a home. Remove any chests, small tables, or rearrange furniture so that the buyer doesn’t have to walk around furniture to get to another room.  
Repurpose Your Rooms
When buyers walk through a home, they want to see the spaces used as the home’s design intended. That means your dining room can no longer serve as your home office. Take your laptop off the table, put your dining chairs back around it, and stage the dining area with placemats, napkins and dishes, as if you were having someone over for dinner.
Rooms being used for multiple purposes confuses buyers, so make that spare bedroom your new office, and move the bedroom furniture out.
To Be or Not To Be
Generally, family photos, awards, collections, and any other items that say “the seller still lives here” should be removed.
It may feel a little uncomfortable to erase your life from your house, but that is the idea, isn’t it? Keep telling yourself, “buyers want to buy their home, not my home.” See:
Kitchens and Bathrooms Sell Houses
In a word, make it spotless. Kitchens and baths are the areas where dazzling cleanliness counts the most. Remove little used appliances, and clean the remaining coffee makers and can openers inch by inch.
Staging includes updating light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, drawer pulls, and other outmoded fixtures. Shiny brass ceiling fans with cane blades will date everything else in a room.
Countertops, cabinets, and appliances are big ticket items to replace, but if needed, they will help your house sell. 
Color It Sold
Fresh paint sells homes. Painted doorways, window sills and trims, and moldings almost always need freshening, but don’t pick the same dated shade again.  
Earth tones are warm, comfortable, and relaxing, which complements most decors, but if you need more ideas, look no further than your catalog collection. Stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and the Container Store have the latest colors in home accessories. If you need to freshen a bath or kitchen with new towels and mats, you already have your palette.
By taking the initiative to stage your home yourself, you’re ahead of your competition. Let other sellers scimp on cleaning, decluttering and updating. Your home will be ready for the market, and for the next owner.
Blanche Evans is CEO of Evans Emedia, Inc. and publisher of The Evans Ezine. As an award-winning journalist, Blanche has been named one of the "25 Most Influential People In Real Estate" by REALTOR Magazine, and twice recognized as one of the industry's most "Notables."  

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