Although home staging is not new to the real estate market, its popularity among sellers has seen an increase in recent years. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX, more and more sellers understand the importance of creating buyer appeal in today’s challenging market. He adds that momentum in the property market has shifted towards buyers, so sellers need to optimise their chances of standing out from the crowd.
“Preparing the home for sale can have a positive impact on prospective buyers’ perceptions of the property and home staging is just one tool that sellers can use to accomplish this. The primary goal for most sellers is to sell their home within the shortest time, for the highest possible price. If sellers want to be able to achieve this, they will need to ensure that their home appeals to the highest number of potential buyers in the market. Often real estate professionals will use home staging as a marketing tool to highlight the home’s prime selling features. At its core, home staging is preparing the home to be listed by using methods that improve the property’s appeal by transforming it into an attractive and welcoming space,” Goslett explains.
In a commercial setting, a prime example of staging would be a retail shop’s display window, which uses props and mannequins to market items that they want to sell. The display allows the passer-by to imagine themselves wearing the clothes or using the items in the window, perhaps enticing them to buy. In similar fashion, home staging is used to showcase the home’s best qualities and entice the potential buyer to see themselves living in that home – it creates aspirations.
“If cost is not a factor, sellers can have their homes professionally staged by a knowledgeable staging specialist. Depending on the budget, professional staging can include the rental of furniture or artwork, buying paint or wallpaper, as well as products that may be required to fix certain defects such as cracks in the wall or sanding wooden floors,” says Goslett.
If a professional specialist is out of the question, sellers can make simple changes to their home on their own. “There are a number of resources available to sellers, such as websites, television shows, and magazines, to name a few,” adds Goslett. “The home must be clean, inviting and exciting for potential buyers to view. The object is for buyers to not only want the home but want it more than any other homes for sale in the neighbourhood.”
According to Goslett, one of the first steps that sellers should take when preparing their home is to declutter and pack away items that are not necessary. “Buyers should be able to focus on the home and what it has to offer, rather than the items inside of it. Rooms that are cluttered with items will feel smaller and overcrowded. Removing unnecessary items and furniture will create more space. While not always practical, it is best to try and reduce the home’s contents by about half – this means being ruthless with the selection. Hiring a storage unit while the home is on the market will help in storing pieces that the seller wants to keep, but don’t want in the house,” advises Goslett.
Apart from the space element, with fewer items in the home, it will be far easier to keep clean. “Fewer items means that it will be easier to have the carpets professionally cleaned, which will make a big difference to how the home looks and smells. Washing the curtains will also add a pleasant aroma to the home. Fresh or new bedding will go a long way in sprucing up the bedrooms and having them look their best on show day,” adds Goslett.
He notes that it is important to be conscious of the way the home smells because it can have an impact on the sale of the home. Good smells conjure up positive emotions, while bad odours, on the other hand, will put potential buyers off. “Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee or freshly baked bread on a show day – it is a really inviting smell to most people,” Goslett explains.
Once the property has been de-cluttered, cleaned and smells good, sellers can start looking at other aspects such as painting the walls if required or rearranging the furniture. Each room should be as open and bright as possible. It is best to have the curtains or blinds open to let in as much light as possible and the lights should be turned on.
“Sometimes subtle, well-planned changes can make the biggest impression, such as a sparkling blue swimming pool or a mowed lawn,” says Goslett. “A nice touch is some fresh flowers on display, a welcome mat or fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen – all these little things combined will add to the appeal of the home and impress potential buyers,” he concludes.