BY ANNIE SCHWARZ
No matter what’s happening to the real
estate market, when it comes time to sell your
home or commercial property, there are two
simple rules to follow to assure a quick sale.
Price it well with the assistance of a good real
estate agent, and make it look amazing with
the assistance of a professional home stager.
One of the costliest mistakes made by
home sellers, and also inexperienced real
estate agents, is to ignore the visual psychology
involved in gaining a buyer’s immediate
attention. Staging is all about creating a space
that makes buyers connect emotionally to it.
Just like a product in the store, the better it’s
packaged the more desirable it becomes and
the more people are willing to pay for it. When
someone sees a beautifully staged home, they
immediately equate that with higher value.
New home builders learned a long time ago
that model homes sell their houses.
Home Stagers market the house from the
inside and real estate agents market the house
form the outside. Both services are essential to
a seller that wants to sell at the highest price
Homeowners are not able to be impartial
about their belongings. Homeowners get used
to their furniture and accessories being laid out
in a particular way and often it takes a fresh
pair of eyes to see how it could be rearranged
to create a more inviting, light and airy space.
A home stager will be that neutral party
who can make the most effective decisions
to bring out the best features of your home.
They are not emotionally attached to your personal
belongings so this enables them to work
quickly. They do not get bogged down with the
trip down memory lane, a hurdle which often
paralyzes homeowners when sorting out their
Staging can be a deal maker and sell a property
for the best price in the shortest amount
of time. National statistics say a staged home
usually sells within a month and a half and
will dramatically increase the opportunity to
sell at a much higher profit.
Trying to wait and see how it sells on its
own is one of the worst mistakes a seller can
make. Home staging can certainly be done
months into it if it doesn’t sell, but doing it
from the beginning is always the best rule of
thumb. Having a property on the market for
an extended period of time is never a good
A home stager attends to what needs to be
rearranged, repaired, removed, and repainted.
Dated can sometimes equate as neglect. If
you’ve chosen to overlook torn carpeting or
damaged walls, now is the time to set things right – buyers won’t be attracted to a poorly
maintained home, and will doubt that it’s only
on the surface. They think, if the tile is cracked,
maybe the roof leaks. If you’re selling a dated
home, it’s well worth the expense to make some
updates to sell it at the highest price.
Maybe you’re moving because your family
has outgrown the house. Fine, but if there’s evidence
in every room like closets jammed to the
max, and vanities piled with extra clothes, then
you’re immediately telling buyers ‘this house
is too small, and doesn’t offer enough storage.
Realize that buyers respond to clean, well
laid out spaces. And, the added touches of fresh
cut flowers, pretty throw pillows, fresh towels
in the bathrooms, nice bedding and soft music
playing in the background are pleasant additions
that convey the message that someone
prepared for your visit.
Also, because a potential buyer wants to
envision it as their home not your home, it’s
very important to remove all personal pictures,
religious items or moody artwork. The more
you can appeal to all buyers, the better. Hotel
rooms have been doing this for years.
The best way to think of it is you have to
pack anyway, so start packing before the first
showing. Less is more when it comes to staging
a house. People want to see the house not the
stuff. And, when they do see your stuff, they
want it to be nice or they’ll devalue the house
in their mind.
However, selling a vacant house is the kiss
of death. A stager will help you do a partial
staging you so people can still see familiar
items in the rooms to help them realize their
furniture will fit and the space will function
well for their family. It’s best to contact a stager
before you move so you can leave key pieces
and accessories behind to avoid additional
expenses of renting furniture.
In order for a buyer to even consider looking
at the inside of your home, they must first be
impressed by the exterior’s condition or what’s
commonly known as curb appeal. Make sure
that the lawn is neatly mowed and unsightly
branches removed and bushes are trimmed.
Weather appropriate plants added for color
and beauty are a huge plus.
If you have a dog, make sure there is no
evidence of your buddy on your lawn or in your
house. Although we love our pets, don’t expect a potential buyer to feel the same way, it’s best
to remove them and their toys for all showings.
Using a home stager is not expensive. Most
homes can be staged between $350-$800.
Compare spending that up front and having
it show well from the beginning, to having to
drop the price by tens of thousands of dollars
if the home is not selling several months in to
the process. There is just no comparison. You
can’t afford not to stage it.
Similar staging principals are recommended
for selling a commercial property. You want
the building to convey a positive impression
as soon as people enter the building. Potential
buyers want a building that is move-in ready,
and are likely to be turned off if they feel a
great deal of cleanup or repairs are needed
before they can begin operations.
Unique architectural features of your commercial
building should not be overlooked.
These special features could be what sets your
property apart from others, and could mean a
much higher rental or sale price. Fine woodwork
or flooring is very desirable and good
lighting is also an important benefit when
people are searching for commercial spaces.
Just like in the home, by staging office furniture
in the right way, potential buyers will be
able to envision themselves setting up shop in
your space rather than looking at a vast open
area and wondering what they would do with
it. It also adds to the notion that your building
is move-in ready, making it more likely
they’ll consider your property for their needs
For showing large commercial spaces, using
a free online architectural program can show
the potential of a space by presenting a couple
3D models to a perspective buyer or renter
on how the space may suit their needs. This
can go a long way to help them envision their
business in a large open space. Going this extra
mile to sell a commercial property can be very
profitable in the long run.
The bottom line, is people don’t want to
work so hard to buy a property and they want
to feel that the person before them took care
of what they are about to purchase with their
Schwarz is an interior designer and home
stager and owner of Interior Harmony, Saratoga