As a certified home stager, people often ask me how they can best prepare their home to sell in today’s sluggish Real Estate market. My answer is simple. Get back to the basic principles of good design to create multiple, memorable, ‘first impressions’!

Today’s prospective home buyer is more savvy than ever before. Statistics show that 85% of people first browse the MLS listings on the internet to determine which homes they want to personally see. Therefore, compelling photographs representing a staged home in showcase condition is critically important. This often can make the difference between a house that sells quickly and a house that will languish on the market for months, unseen.

The art of successfully staging homes to get properties sold quickly and at the best possible price is a service which has been widely adopted. Homebuilders have been using this marketing technique for many years to create an emotoinal connection with their prospective buyer. They have known that a well merchandised model is a minimum investment with a maximum return, giving them that all important edge in a competitive market. What model merchandising has done for the homebuilders, home staging is now doing for individual home sellers and Realtors nationally.

Barbara Corcoran, the dynamic, successful New York real estate mogul was recently quoted as saying, “Home staging, once considered an option by real estate professionals, has now become a necessity.” The benefits of home staging are evident.

The following is a simple guide outlining the basics of good home staging for both the professionals and individuals who want to prepare their homes for a quicker, more profitable sale . . .

Good home staging is . . .

. . . simple. Less is more when staging your home to sell. It’s important to remember that you are selling square footage and therefore need to make the rooms look and feel as large and open as possible. Declutter – declutter – then declutter again. When you have too much furniture, artwork, accessories or just ‘fluff’ you run the risk of sending your potential buyer into sensory overload!

. . . organized. Get organized! Downsize what’s in your closets, garage, pantry etc. Clear the countertops in your kitchen and bath areas. Keep refrigerator surfaces clear of magnets and pictures of the kids. Have a garage sale to get rid of all the excess stuff you haven’t used or worn in years. Box up out of season clothes, childrens toys that won’t be missed and stacks of books that you’ve been meaning to read. And as a special reminder, organize your linen closet. This is a hot spot for potential buyers. An indicator to them as to how well you have paid attention to details when maintaining your home. It may seem unimportant to you but buyer surveys have indicated that it isn’t to them!

. . . balanced. Have you ever been in a room where you felt uncomfortable and weren’t sure exactly why? Chances are the room was unbalanced due to furniture which was out of scale and proportion for the room. It could also have been that the colors, textures or lighting were not distributed evenly. Maintaining visual balance with your furnishings is essential in achieving a sense of comfort, well being, and good home staging.

. . . cohesive. Your eye carries color from room to room. It is important to determine an overall color scheme for your home, usually a combination of 3 to 5 colors, and stick with it. This does not mean that every room will look alike. On the contrary, each room should have it’s own personality while maintaining a cohesive flow of color and style. And remember, your color choices will psychologically communicate with your potential buyers. For example: Red conveys excitement, blue evokes tranquillity, pink has a calming effect, yellow sends the message of happiness and light, and green signifies life and growth. And when you use black you are communicating the feeling of sophistication and elegance. Know what message you want to convey when making your selections.

. . . descriptive. The home should tell a story, depicting a lifestyle which will encourage buyers to visualize themselves living there, entertaining there, raising their family there. Each room in the home should be a designated space that is memorable and incorporates the WOW factor!

. . . staged with the potential buyer in mind. Pay attention to demographics. Who is your targeted market? Young professionals with children, empty nesters? Is it a golf club community or on the water? Your staging should reflect and incorporate subtle furnishings associated with them, again forming that very important emotional connection with your potential buyer, making them feel like this is ‘home’.

Finally, two basic things to remember when preparing a home for sale: #1. The way you live in a home, and the way you stage a home for sale are two different things. A house on the market must be viewed as a product, and staged to appeal to a broad range of people. Depersonalization of the house is necessary in order for buyers to emotionally connect with the home and imagine themselves living there. #2. First impressions are made within seconds of entering each area of a home. You have only one chance to make these ‘first impressions’ memorable!

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