It’s easy to overlook some of these, but buyers notice!
When potential buyers walk into a house, they only spend an average of 11 minutes looking at the property. That’s not a lot of time to make a good first impression. You need the best features of an occupied home to be obvious and memorable.
That can be difficult with any house, but it’s especially tricky in occupied homes. When you’re balancing what the seller needs with what you want buyers to notice, it’s easy for something to fall between the cracks. Listen in as Melissa Marro explains, and look out for these easy mistakes!
As attached as a seller may be to a themed room they carefully curated over the years, potential buyers aren’t going to feel the same. It doesn’t matter what the theme is; it could be elephants or the game Monopoly, but potential buyers are very unlikely to have the same obsession as the seller.
Remember, you’re selling a house, not a Disney World attraction. Redecorate any themed rooms!
You absolutely should use kitchen decor, but where you use it is important. Generally, the most money spent in a kitchen is on things at counter-height, like granite countertops and elaborate backsplashes.
Many people keep knick-knacks or decorations up on top of their cabinets. This draws the buyer’s eyes away from the countertops and distracts from the main features of the kitchen. You want to remove anything on top of the cabinets and keep all of your staging items at counter-level.
You don’t want cluttered counters though, so make sure the sellers only leave out appliances that they need to use every day. For example, they can leave out a toaster if they eat toast every morning, but if they only make a smoothie a couple times a month, the blender should go back into the cabinet every time they use it.
Bold Wall Colors
Blue may be the color of the year, but that doesn’t mean you should paint a whole wall with it. Colors tend to bring out strong emotions in people, and different people have different associations with each color. That means it’s best to make sure the house has fresh, neutral wall paint.
Which neutral color you get is important too. You need to be aware of current color trends to find the perfect shade; for example, grey is on its way out. As the stager for an occupied home, you can bring in a lot of value here by recommending a stylish and demographic-appropriate wall color to your clients.
Cleaning and Decluttering
Any house, but especially one that’s currently lived in, needs to be spotless. “White glove, military clean,” as Melissa says. Part of cleaning is decluttering; even if the carpets and furniture look fresh and inviting, it will still look messy if there are too many accessories and personal items filling the space.
One of the biggest mistakes people make while preparing an occupied home for the market is leaving the closets cluttered and dirty. Buyers are going to look into the closets. There’s no use trying to hide anything there, and if people see clutter or filth, they’ll start to wonder what else the seller has neglected in the home. Instead, think about how to make the closets a selling point by showing how organized and functional they can be.
Neglecting the Yard
As with the closets, if you leave anything in a state of neglect, buyers will wonder what else hasn’t been maintained properly in the house. The yard is the first thing they’ll see, and if it looks overgrown, they’ll be thinking about how much time they’ll have to spend mowing it themselves instead of paying attention to the beautiful staging inside the house.
Chances are that most sellers only have the opportunity to do yard work during the weekend, which is also when most buyers will be viewing the house. That means it’s easy for homeowners to get too busy to mow the lawn and pull weeds one week, and the yard quickly becomes a mess. Sellers should hire a professional lawn service while their house is on the market to ensure the yard doesn’t cost them a great offer. Remember, for every $100 spent on maintenance, sellers usually save themselves a $1,000 price reduction.
The “Junk” Room
Even though we’ve all been in a house with a spare bedroom that got turned into a “junk” room, that doesn’t mean it’s what a buyer wants to see. Spare bedrooms need to look like bedrooms. Some buyers will look at it knowing they’d use it as an office space or craft room instead, but that’s okay. It’s much easier to visualize a bedroom as something else than it is to visualize a room without a bed as a bedroom.
As the stager for an occupied home, what do YOU want the property to be known for?
One of the most important considerations you have to make as a stager is this: what do you want buyers to call the property after they leave? The “gorgeous wood floors” house? The “incredible kitchen” apartment? Or do you want them to think of it as the “smelly carpet” property or the “garish neon walls” place?
If you have in mind exactly what you want your buyers to love and remember about a property, that will guide how you stage it more than any list.