It goes without saying that displaying your property in the best possible light with great photos is essential in order to get the highest price. But as you may have seen on one of the many property shows, well before the photos are taken, staging your home for your target market is even more important. This is the key to giving the right first impressions to buyers online; enabling them to visualise the sort of lifestyle they are seeking – in a home just like yours. Great staging also ensures they’re just as impressed when they visit your property in person for a viewing.
“Two things remain irretrievable; time and a first impression.” Cynthia Ozick
Since when was staging necessary to sell a home?
Staging certainly has its roots in real estate in America, rather than in the UK. In America, the game of real estate is much more competitive than in the UK, and it is much more common for multiple agents and agencies to compete for high-value listings. In the UK, although sales of brand-new homes naturally include staged properties, in the general property market it still falls on homeowners to stage their home and to dictate the right direction for that transformation.
Estate agents in the UK might offer you advice on how to achieve a higher price for the property, but it usually revolves around the idea of more significant improvements like a new bathroom or kitchen, rather than the overall aesthetic appeal of the home and the emotional journey the buyer will go on when they view.
Staging is more about not only selling the home but selling a lifestyle. The key is in identifying your target buyer group and then staging your home to fit the ideals of that group. It pushes well beyond the boundary of selling a blank canvas, as is the most common house sale preparation advice in the UK. Instead, staging uses clever tricks and methods that position your home as the perfect home for those specific buyers. It essentially skips the step of leaving it up to the buyer to imagine themselves in your home, and actively provides props, sensory cues and a helping hand to achieve a certain perspective for the property. Buyers are then able to truly visualise themselves when they think of life in your property.
Staging 101: How To Enhance Your Home For Resale
On average, it takes about 10 weeks from a property being listed on the market to an offer being accepted, according to the Home Owners Alliance. Staging your home can speed that process up, but more importantly, get you the kind of high quality offers you want to sell your house at a great price, and with a smooth exchange process. The following tips will help you to stage your home for resale, for the best possible offer prospects:
The Blank Slate Rule
Although removing all of the very personal items from your home like photos, keepsakes and visually impactful decor isn’t the key to staging, it is the best first step, according to storage experts at Storing. Using secure self storage is indispensable when clearing out and protecting items for later when you find your next ideal home. You may also want to remove and store larger furniture items that don’t form part of your plan for staging, or even clear absolutely everything out if you’re going to be doing a full redecoration. Units come in all sizes so there’s no limit to how much you can store.
A clean and clear home is easier to plan for staging, and you’ll want to plan every room out with your target market in mind. Retirees won’t likely want a modern home office, a young family won’t necessarily want a high maintenance garden, young professionals won’t necessarily want a spare room as a potential nursery. If you’re in any doubt, checkout the competition online and consider speaking to your estate agent for a bit of insider knowledge about potential buyers. They will know exactly who your target market is and what they are looking for in a home, based on the habits of buyers they are working with every day.
Get a really clear image of your target market and what they want, plan your colour scheme (neutrals always work best), and think carefully about what you want to say with each room, and what journey you want the buyer to go on as they view.
Any basic repairs should also be carried out before you start.
Layer 1 – Neutralise
Now your base is ready, and you have a plan, layer one of staging is your neutral redecoration.
Choose a simple colour scheme for each room. In areas where you don’t want to pay for new carpets, flooring or repair other aspects of the space, try to clean the problem area as best you can so that it looks as aesthetically pleasing as possible without misleading the buyer or disguising an issue that needs addressing. Rugs are always useful.
Approach other areas similarly, with a ‘best we can afford’ approach to cleaning, repairs and decoration upgrades.
Layer 2 – Furnish
Layer two is furnishing and some of the preparation for this stage is done during the planning stage.
When you furnish your home with staging in mind Marie Kondo’s advice for imagining your ideal lifestyle when laying out your home is really helpful, simply apply it to the buyer’s ideal lifestyle in your house.
Room by room, imagine your ideal buyer and think about what they would use that room for. Choose basic but attractive furniture suggestive of that room’s use, and place it whilst also giving the furniture room to breathe (no clutter or heavy grouping of pieces).
There is absolutely no need for excess, or multiple items to emphasise multiple room-uses. Opt instead for basic, linear, practical furniture that suggest a use of the room that makes sense for your ideal buyer.
A great example of staging techniques and furnishing is with that tricky compact bedroom. If a young family are your target buyers, a single bed and a computer table makes good sense, suggesting a guest bedroom and/or room for a child. If your target market is an older couple, a desk and a chair could be suggestive of a creative space like an art studio or simply a home office. Equally, a bed and a set of drawers may help older buyers picture the room as ideal for grandchildren.
The furniture you use to stage does not have to be high quality, but it does help if it is matching in tone or colour. Modern, simple furniture is also usually best for continuity, lower cost and for a wider appeal overall to all age groups of potential buyers.
Layer 3 – Dressing
Dressing is the fun part of house staging, and it is where you can employ clever tricks to entice your target buyers to make an offer. Key pieces can create a talking point, and the finer details ensure the overall effect appears organic and natural.
When dressing, you’re adding the finishing touches to every area. A dining table with some beautiful table settings, a chic soap set and some fluffy towels in the bathroom, crisp sheets, a glamourous throw and cushions layered on the beds. These are details that provide polish without overwhelming the look.
You can also be suggestive of use with your house dressing. A teddy on a bed is enough to suggest ‘child’s bedroom’, a pile of workbooks and a pencil case is enough to suggest a corner desk is for homework. These are very simple props that have a vast impact on the way your buyer thinks as they view your home.
Don’t be afraid to appeal to the wider senses when you dress the property, either. Create a stunning scent-scape using vibrant citrus, or welcoming vanilla. Our sense of smell is closely linked to memory, so the right scents used throughout the different rooms could be enough to cement your buyers’ positive feelings throughout the house, making your home more memorable to them.
Just a word of advice – don’t take it too far or your buyers could suspect you’re covering up an odour issue.
Lighting is also an important aspect of dressing, as fairy lights or lamps help to illuminate the space in multiple ways beyond the drab, harsh single focus lighting of a main pendant. For viewings in the day when it is light, your windows should be perfectly cleaned and all window ledges clear. Shrubs and trees should not block the natural sunshine from flooding in and bathing each room in beautiful, warm natural light.
Last But Not Least….
Feng shui considers the entrance to your home as the ‘mouth of qui’ – the portal where we receive positive energy and opportunities, and getting it to look wonderful could be all you need to boost your chance of the best possible resale opportunities.
Because it’s the first part of the house buyers will see, your curb appeal also matters and is certainly worth the extra effort. Could you add a lick of paint to the front of your house, and a few nice pot plants to your entryway? How about a new gate, or a little bit of jet washing on those mossy surfaces?
The back garden should also be staged to imply a certain sort of lifestyle. The best gardens should offer a small escape to nature, be easy-to-maintain and be without hazards like uneven paving or crumbling sheds. There’s no need for any expensive landscaping, just well-maintained greenery and perhaps a table and chairs in an area you want to suggest as a place for outdoor entertaining.
If you are selling your home out of season it may be helpful to store outdoor toys and garden furniture along with your other belongings in your storage unit.
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.” Steve Jobs
Let the vision that you create pull your buyers into making an offer, with impactful staging that guides them on a journey in your home perfectly focused on their needs and the lifestyle they want.
With the right layout, thoughtful props and details, your home can sell at speed for the highest possible price, to a committed buyer, leaving you ready to enjoy your own perfect vision of the future in your new place.