Dress that house like it’s a first date!
Home staging came to the Roanoke Valley a bit later than to larger metropolitan areas with huge housing inventories, but sprucing up property to catch the eyes of potential buyers has now become so routine, it is practically a requirement.
Whether you tap professional stagers like Cathy Dick and Wanda Richards of Final Touch Designs of Roanoke to make your place look better or go on your own, the philosophy behind staging needs to be a first consideration in selling.
Your house needs to wear its best face. Think of it as a first-date experience.
“Shopping for a home is an emotional process; the house has to feel right so a shopper’s senses are heightened,” says Dick. “Brightness, temperature, scent – all help a potential buyer decide ‘How can I fit into this home?’”
A small detail such as whether or not light switch plates match can be distracting.
When Jill Elswick set out to sell her Raleigh Court four-square, Dick told her to put away the rice steamer so the kitchen counter would look less cluttered.
Other suggestions were to rent a large mirror for the living room wall, add different color pillows on the sofa, and borrow some furniture from Elswick’s mother so the place would not look so bare.
Dick installed Elswick’s framed Krazy Kat cartoons by Roy Lichtenstein in a bedroom; “something I would never have done,” Elswick says. Dick displayed fancy perfume bottles atop an old record player in the guest room and used decorative tiles Elswick had lined up horizontally on a mantle to create a more inviting wall arrangement.
“I knew staging had caused me to rent or buy a place in the past, so I knew it was a good idea,” Elswick says.
“Staging does not mean hiding things, like putting a plant over a stain on the floor,” Dick says. “What you see on TV is not realistic either. Staging is not a glamorous one-day job.”
What staging can do is make a not-so attractive room become a standout, says Wanda Richards, a real estate agent since 1980, now with Long & Foster’s Daleville office. Richards recalls how she once was selling a house with an orange kitchen counter, which a home stager enhanced by putting the right accessories and furniture from Pier I with it.
These days, Richards works mainly helping other agents market houses through home staging, virtual tours and website design through her company, Shows Great Home Staging and Web Solutions.
“Buyers used to look at what they could do to a home. Now they want it in near perfect condition.”
Sometimes that means giving a house a total redo; other times, it could be just rearranging the furniture.
Richards, like most home stagers, does not just make suggestions. She rolls up her sleeves and helps do the staging. That can mean removing wallpaper and painting walls. Stagers also have contractors they can call in for help and can get a project done in two weeks that might take a homeowner more than two months.
Staging prices vary, depending upon how much work is done. Expect to pay the least for a consultation; the most for getting someone to do all of the work.
Spring Cho’s Tips
Veteran Realtor Spring Cho of Spring Cho Real Estate Group gives her clients a brochure on how to prepare for selling. Here are her tips for getting your home ready to show itself off to your pocketbook’s best advantage:
1. Spruce up all around the house. Keep lawn and shrubbery trimmed and free of bicycles and other clutter. Keep the garden beds weeded and mulched.
2. Put a flowering pot on the front step and keep it watered and trimmed.
3. Fill potholes in your driveway and tidy up walkways.
4. Clean off your outdoor furniture, remove any rust (or toss out the rusted item).
5. Clear out the garage of everything but cars. If yours has become a two-car attic, throw out the excess.
6. Straighten gutters, the TV antenna, the fence and other things that sag.
7. Fix doorbells, tighten loose doorknobs, and oil squeaking hinges.
8. Repair broken windows and shutters.
9. Clean everything in and out of sight. Shampoo rugs and wax floors. Wash or brush walls. Wash windows and clean blinds and draperies.
10. Weed clutter out of closets and cupboards.
11. Create space by storing some of the extra furniture you’ve found useful (bureaus, bookcases, storage chests, oversized chairs) but which makes a crowded impression.
12. Place the remaining furniture so that traffic can flow easily from room to room.
13. Unless you’re a skilled artist, scale down personal art work (portraits, landscapes) posters, signs, and family photos, especially in teenagers’ rooms. Create a feeling of spaciousness.
14. Keep shades and draperies open to admit as much light as possible, but screen out unappealing views.
15. Let your kitchen look warm and welcoming, not a hectic workplace. Keep your sink shining and free of dirty dishes at all times.
16. Organize cupboards.
17. Clean the refrigerator.
18. Keep counter tops clear, but not empty (as if unused); adorn them with your most attractive canisters.
19. Completely degrease your oven. Let the kitchen smell fresh and fragrant (with cinnamon warming in the clean oven, if you have time).
20. Remove debris (dust, flies, moths, etc.) from all light fixtures.
21. Keep bathrooms scrubbed, tidy and equipped with fresh soap and neatly hung towels (matching, if possible).
22. Get rid of all stains and install new washers on all dripping faucets.
23. Feature (with lighting or furniture arrangement) your home’s best characteristics (a fireplace, a picture window, a balcony, ceiling beams, a kitchen eating area, etc.)
24. If you’ve repainted (preferably in safe neutral tones), add bold splashes of color (with your brightest throw pillows, crockery, pictures, etc.)
25. Place plants in strategic spots in any room – the bigger the more glamorous, if space permits.
26. Light the whole house, especially dark corners and hallways.
27. Hang mirrors where they will reflect outdoor light – as well as make a room look larger.