• Good home staging eliminates reasons for the buyer to say “no,” and cleaning offers the biggest return on investment in the home sale process.

A potential buyer walking into your listing and saying, “Nope — not for me” at first glance is the last thing you want as a listing agent. One simple way to avoid that scenario is good home staging.

The key to effective staging is helping your clients make small improvements that will result in big returns. The same is true even if the client is currently living in the home.

However, not all clients want to go through the hassle of staging their home while living in it; and you definitely don’t want to get dumped by the clients for pushing such a suggestion.

Instead of being pushy, help your clients understand that staging is simply a method of decorating the home that showcases its best assets, reels in the widest audience of buyers and sells it quickly for the highest possible price.

In other words, home staging eliminates reasons for the buyer to say “no.”

Staging can be a humbling experience for sellers because it often requires them to strip the home of things they love (that may not have wide appeal) and look at the home objectively to see what needs improving. That is where the agent comes in.

Help walk your clients through this list and objectively identify realistic, budget-friendly changes that will help them sell quickly.

1. Clean

Give the house the cleaning of its life.

This point must be emphasized to clients. Also, it may not be a bad idea to recommend cleaning be done professionally. Clients might not know what it actually means to deep clean, or they may tucker out when the going gets tough.

Cleaning offers the biggest return on investment in this process. Don’t skimp, make it sparkle! Most importantly, be sure your sellers keep up on the cleaning while still living in the home.

2. Declutter

The clutter has got to go.

Some clients will be fine with selling everything they own. Others won’t even want to sell the broken mug that Billy made when he was three.

If they don’t want to sell, suggest a storage unit, not a closet. Buyers look in closets. Help clients find the right balance between lived-in and sterile. Again, the goal is to try to appeal to the widest audience possible.

3. Paint

Is it loud, outdated or wacky? Paint over it.

Is it wallpaper? Tear it down, and then paint over it.

Consider a nice neutral shade. Some clients may be reluctant because white, beige and taupe are boring.

Inform them that those colors may be boring, but some colors have a better ROI than others. The neutral palettes are a much better canvas for the buyer’s dreams than the client’s current seascape kitchen.

4. Depersonalize

The 10×10 family picture collage is a big no. Again, one of the purposes of staging is to appeal to as many buyers as possible — not to the grandparents.

Teach the clients that buyers need to be able to enter the home and envision themselves living there rather than feeling like guests in someone else’s environment.

This may be difficult while the client is still living in the home. A storage space may come in handy.

5. Think about lighting

Use natural light. Tell your clients to open up the blinds, curtains and shutters to let the sun’s light stream in. Natural light can do a lot to freshen up an area.

Also, it may be worth it to consider adding supplemental light to a dark corner or updating a broken or out-of-date light fixture — especially if it looks like it belongs in a medieval castle.

Be considerate of particularly low-hanging fixtures; raise them up if there is room. At the very least, fixtures must be dusted.

6. Upgrade the exterior

Increase curb appeal.

Curb appeal is essential. If your client’s house doesn’t attract buyers during a simple drive-by, then it won’t matter much how clean it is on the inside.

This may be the most important item on the list. (It’s especially important if you don’t live in any of these beautiful towns.)

Mow the lawn, hedge the bushes, prune the trees, spruce the flowers, kill the weeds. Life-size garden gnomes? No! Power wash the outside? Yes! It’s almost as good as new paint, and it gets a better return on investment.

Clean the windows, organize the outside living areas, repair the gutters and fix the fence. Keep in mind that it may be easier for your clients to hire a professional.

Finally, don’t forget the upkeep.

Using these tips, your sellers will be well-prepared for any showing.

Jackson Cooper is a writer and real estate enthusiast at Jensen and Company. Follow Jensen & Company on Twitter or Facebook.

Email Jackson Cooper

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