You’ve seen it on TV. You’ve heard about it from friends. Most homeowners who are thinking of putting their home on the market have heard that their property should be “staged” or “fluffed”  before it is sold. I’m often asked what the cost is and who pays for it. Sometimes I also meet future sellers who are totally stressed about the amount of effort and upheaval involved (they’ve often got this impression from someone who has had been through it!) It doesn’t need to be this way.

Staging is the process of turning your property from your home in to a product.

We want to customize this product so that it appeals not only to the widest possible range of buyers but even better, to that one buyer who is going to pay a premium for your home. This is not a one size fits all proposition and that is why it is important to have a knowledgeable realtor to advise you. Good advice in this area will pay off in a big way.

Back to the beginning – you don’t have to do a thing to your home if you don’t want to!
Your home will still sell, but possibly for far less than if you’d undertaken even a few of the steps listed here. There are also some people who don’t need to do a thing because they live in a pristine environment the whole time. I’m not one but maybe you are!

If you’re like most people you painted when you moved in, maybe replaced a kitchen or a bathroom along the way, or even taken on a more extensive renovation a few years back. Since then you’ve been happily living your life, making those plans, working hard at your career or business or raising those children – which now brings us to that an imminent move!

A good clean up is the bare minimum that should be done before you list your home for sale.

Don’t be offended! Give everything a good scrub. Get rid of the cobwebs. Scour the stove. Wash the windows. Even a vacant property will benefit from this. If you don’t have the time yourself hire a professional service. There are cleaning companies that specialize in preparing for an open house. The cost? Expect to spend $300 for a condo and up to $1000 dollars and up if you have a big house. Windows too – inside and out.

Any regular maintenance that you have have overlooked should be taken care of. This includes fixing taps, mending cracked windows, replacing rusty street numbers and other small repairs.

De-cluttering and removing items from the property are also very important. It can be time consuming sorting through things after many years in the same home. An easy solution is to rent a storage locker for a month or so and deal with the sorting out later. Depending on how much space is needed the cost can run upwards of about $150. Good advice is important – you don’t want your house to look too bare and your furniture, art and fabrics may enhance the value of your home.

Painting your property before you list it is the biggest investment you can make. A fresh coat of paint will transform any space. Colour is critical and fresh paint professionally applied will set the stage for a sale.

Next comes decorating. Although the overall condition of a property is important it’s a rare buyer who chooses a home just because it has new roof! Selecting a home is an emotional experience. Light fixtures, window coverings, cushions on the sofa, fresh bedding and towels and some art and mirrors will help create a mood. All these items have a small cost but can have a high payout in the right context. Renting furniture can be a major expense but will create a great impression. Many rooms are defined by the furniture they hold so if your property is vacant adding furniture may be important so that the various rooms may be identifiable in photographs and to add an element of scale to the rooms. Don’t forget add some fresh flowers and plants inside and outside in the summer months. Your garden is a room too!

Lastly, the most important part of staging is the cost/benefit analysis. Only an experienced and knowledgeable realtor can work through this with you. Everything from your schedule, your financial situation, current market conditions and the type and condition of the property must be carefully considered when a plan is drawn up to prepare the property for sale.

There are lots of decisions that must be made and any one can be critical in the end. Make sure you have great advice as the payoff will be yours. Most realtors, myself included, will be happy to help. We often have art and accessories and even furniture of our own than we can lend you. I provide a consultation with a professional interior designer to get started and because I find that a second pair of eyes is a big help. I also keep a list of contacts of service providers that can help out at a reasonable cost.

Get a second opinion if you think that your real estate advisor is recommending to much or too little. Be suspicious of offers to cover the cost of staging as what may be included may not be what is required. Every listing may sell – but a great outcome will mean more money in YOUR pocket. Your home is a huge financial asset so make sure you make the most of it by getting the best possible advice when it comes time to sell.

And remember – your home is gorgeous!

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