7 Tips for Staging a House to Sell Quickly
Real estate sales can take approximately 45 days to close in California, so it’s only natural to be stressed when time isn’t on your side. When you need to make a sale quickly, whether to make a new investment, for tax reasons or to simply free up some cash, you need a solid strategy to meet your goals. A competitive price in a desirable area is a good start, but if buyers aren’t interested in the look and feel of your property, they’re unlikely to buy.
As seasoned investors know, staging can be very effective in successfully selling a property, both by reducing the amount of time until a sale is completed and by increasing the sale price of the property. While all investors have their own styles when it comes to staging, there are some moves that are better than others, especially when time is of the essence.
If you’re looking for a fast sale, how you approach staging can be an importance factor in your outcome. Effective staging involves more than just adding some new furniture and calling it a day. Instead, you need to take a comprehensive approach to the staging process, focusing on high profile changes that can be accomplished rapidly without substantially increasing your expenses. Here are the top seven staging tips for a speedy sale.
Start With a Clean Slate
When you want to create a clean, comfortable, and desirable look for your property, it is often best to start with a clean slate.
Most homeowners attempt to make staging work with existing furniture, colors, and décor, but this can be a costly error. Despite the aesthetic of your existing furniture, your goal in staging is to help the buyer envision himself in your property, not to make him fall in love with your sense of style. Instead of trying and possibly failing to cram your existing possessions into a format buyers may not like, start over. It’s okay to keep some items that have served a purpose in the past, but instead of trying to justify a strangely colored couch or that old ottoman you’ve had for years, replace or remove anything that doesn’t send the right message. After all, staging is all about maximizing the potential of a space, not forcing a space to work around the items you already own.
Stick to Neighborhood Style
All neighborhoods have their own unique cultural identities. In some areas, like older communities with dramatic architecture and centuries-old homes, this style may be classic and elegant. Newer subdivisions, on the other hand, may favor an HOA-approved look with subtle, modest, and unassuming décor styles.
While standing out is a good thing in many areas of life, a home that sticks out like a sore thumb may not attract the right kind of attention. When buyers are on the hunt for a property, they are often looking in certain neighborhoods for many reasons – schools, proximity to jobs, transportation, and costs are all factors – and appearance is generally a part of the search. Most buyers like a certain kind of house, whether for the build, age, or interior features, and prefer to stick with neighborhoods that meet their expectations. When staging, be sure to keep the style of the neighborhood in mind to best meet buyer needs.
Don’t Ignore the Outside
Staging puts a strong focus on the interior of a home, and rightfully so. After all, even an unattractive property can still provide a warm, comfortable, and functional place to live. However, getting a buyer to tour or put an offer on a less than stellar looking home can be a little harder, making it much less likely that you’ll be able to sell quickly.
Buyers strongly value curb appeal so it’s your job to create some. This doesn’t require going all out on landscaping; a simple but neatly groomed lawn can have an equally positive effect. Make sure the grass is mowed, flowers are alive, bushes are trimmed, and all walkways and driveways are clean and tidy. If color is lacking, consider adding potted plants along the sidewalk or flanking the front door. There’s no need to go far beyond touch-ups, but if any repairs are needed to the outside of the property, like warped railings or peeling paint, make these fixes. Vinyl siding should stand as-is, but wood siding may need a fresh coat of paint. Power washing should be considered if porches, siding, or the exterior are grimy or dirty.
Utilize Neutral Colors
Most homeowners appreciate color and personalization within their homes, but the staging process isn’t designed to meet personal preferences. Instead, it’s a way to show the foundation of a home’s potential. Even if you’re a fan of jewel tones or fluorescent shades, there’s no telling what a buyer will like.
To please as many people as possible, stick to neutral colors, like taupe, beige, white, or ivory. While these hues may not be exciting, they’re not offensive or likely to ruin a buyer’s impressions of a home, either. Furthermore, neutral shades match everything, including buyers’ existing furniture, making it easier for a buyer to envision themselves and their possessions within a house.
Most color changes can be made with a simple coat of paint, but any strange wallpaper or flooring choices should be addressed before listing. It may not be cost-effective to rip up tile or replace a whole house full of carpet, but area rugs can make a difference in a pinch.
The lighting within a home can have an enormous impact on first impressions, governing everything from mood to overall appearance. A low-quality bulb in an aging fixture can cast a dark, shadowy light, detracting from the scenery you have worked so hard to establish.
Wherever possible, replace fixtures and light bulbs. Choose sleek or modern designs with a focus on clean lines, especially in living rooms and bathrooms. In the kitchen, bright overhead lights like track lighting can help a space feel larger. Splurge on higher watt bulbs to keep light bright and warm, illuminating all areas to help potential buyers feel at home.
Older light fixtures, even with new bulbs, may cause buzzing sounds or flickering, so be sure to keen an electrician on call to avoid any undesirable side effects.
Keep it Clean
Many things appeal to buyers, from spacious living areas to must-have upgrades like kitchen islands, but above all else, cleanliness counts. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves in a property, and that means a clean, livable space.
Getting rid of dirt, dust, and cobwebs is a no-brainer, but cleanliness goes far beyond the corners and crevasses. When you place furniture in your property, be sure it’s not scuffed, stained, or otherwise compromised. Worn furniture won’t look so bad to you, especially if you’re the one who did the wearing in the first place, but scrapes, scratches, and other issues will stand out clearly to a buyer seeking a new and beautiful property.
Instead, be sure all the furniture you use is clean and damage-free. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be nice enough that buyers won’t find issue with your tastes.
Don’t Forget Décor
Decor is often omitted in the staging process, especially for investors in a hurry to sell. However, a little bit can go a long way in making a property look more like a home.
Decor doesn’t necessarily mean investing in a small art museum to hang on the walls but it does mean adding life to an otherwise drab or boring room. Consider choosing classic prints that will be recognizable to buyers, like renderings of works by well-known artists, or local landscape scenes. For a little color and life, you can also add fresh flowers to the kitchen or living room to remind buyers that your property is a homey place where living things thrive. If you’re worried about the smell, especially after a fresh painting or remodeling job, a little potpourri or a small air freshener can add a pleasing scent.
When time is of the essence, the right approach to staging is a must. With these simple and effective tips, you can quickly turn around your property and add value for a near-immediate sale – and a great return on your investment.
Scott Clift is a licensed real estate broker with Westpark Loans. He has been in the real estate industry since 1994. His team of seasoned professionals specialize in providing real estate loans for investors and other self-employed individuals. When you are ready to invest in real estate, call Westpark Loans to secure your financing at (844) 574 LOAN or by visiting westparkloans.com.