Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Patty Mamone, a home stager and re-designer with Staging Windy City, Inc./Kallista Interiors, on how agents should prepare their listings.
8. Help your sellers emotionally disconnect from the property. The process of preparing an occupied house for the market begins with preparing the seller first. A gentle yet frank discussion about the importance of appealing to the target demographic can help get the seller firmly on board. After correct pricing, market conditions, and the inherent features of the structure and location, a buyer’s first impression and emotional connection to the house is key. Removing the sellers’ fingerprints, (both figuratively and literally), from the house encourages buyers to emotionally “move in” during showings.
7. Having a house listed is a temporary condition. Selling your home is not easy and it’s not fun – getting it over with as quickly as possible is a good thing. Framing it this way to your clients helps them expect and accept the annoyances and inconveniences of staging and showings. It’s in the seller’s best interest to “go all out” in keeping the house spotless and in showing-ready condition.
6. Outline an “escape plan” for showings. Keeping the floors vacuumed, the beds made, and the sinks empty is just the beginning. Contingency plans for last minute showings are vital to showing the listing at its’ best every time. Many a successful seller has killed time during showings by driving around the block (imagine the toddlers in their car seats, the cat in a carrier on the passenger seat, dirty laundry and quickly picked-up toys in the trunk, and the dog on the floor eating whatever drops from the kids’ mobile dinners).
5. Any unused items that don’t contribute to the appeal of the house should be stored off-site. An abundance of space and room to grow is what many buyers aspire to. This includes closets, cabinets, basements, and garages. Too many things stored on the property give the impression that storage space is inadequate. Unnecessary items should be packed up and taken elsewhere; a friend or relative’s house or an off-site storage unit.
4. If the budget allows, this is a good time for the seller to bring in outside services. Professional house cleaning, window washing, and landscape services scheduled at regular intervals can help ensure that the property is at its’ best at all times.
3. Decorating for dwelling and staging for selling are two completely different things. The goal is to maximize the valuable features of the property and minimize the negative. The house must be made to look comfortable, functional, stylish, and generally consistent with the neighborhood. A unique, extravagant, and artistic interior design and furnishings plan is a joy to live with, but it’s not necessarily going to merchandise the property effectively. Clients should be helped to understand that your staging suggestions are in no way a judgment of their taste they’re just what has shown to appeal to more likely buyers.
2. De-personalize. All personal photos and religious items should be packed away. This also includes things like diplomas and other personalized items. Cosmetics, toiletries, toothbrushes, tissue boxes, etc. should be stashed away. Yes, they’re items that are used every day, but this is selling, not dwelling.
1. De-clutter, but don’t leave the house looking too cold or barren. It’s a very fine line, but one sometimes sees listing photos where all of the flat surfaces have been completely emptied, leaving the house looking sterile or neglected. If none of the owner’s accessories contribute to the staging, it might be helpful to suggest purchasing one large, on-trend accessory per room to serve as a style focal point.
Patty Mamone is a home stager and re-designer with Staging Windy City, Inc./Kallista Interiors, which stages both homes and commercial buildings throughouth Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.