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The toughest sale isn’t usually the home — it’s communicating with the sellers to spend money on staging their homes. Sellers often feel their home is perfect, and while every home is special in its own way, it’s the agent’s role to convince sellers to reframe the process as a business transaction.
With 47 percent of buyers’ agents citing that home staging has an effect on a buyer’s view of the home, staging and managing curb appeal instantly increases the home’s likelihood of receiving top offers with a broader buyer audience. The art of client communication is essential in preparing a home sale to look its best.
Buyers don’t want the ‘used’ look
The home is what’s for sale — not the seller’s lifestyle and living arrangements. Communicate to clients that buyers want to envision themselves and their families in the home, and that’s where their attention needs to be.
Potential buyers can become distracted from the home’s features by focusing on personal items like family pictures, tasteful artwork, collections, awards and more.
Keeping the home clean and feeling uncluttered is essential. To avoid the “used” feel, advise clients to hire cleaners to do an initial deep clean of the most important rooms in the home. According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging, The most common rooms staged in a home are the living room (90 percent), kitchen (80 percent), primary bedroom (78 percent) and the dining room (69 percent), because these are the most important for buyers to visualize themselves in.
Add or upgrade lights to improve the home’s feel and eliminate shadows in these areas. Add seasonal accent pillows on the couch, remove everything sitting on kitchen counters, and declutter all closets to maximize appeal. Minimalistic art and neutral paints lengthen halls and rooms, and make them seem spacious.
In today’s high-demand seller’s market, where homes can sell in days, it’s not out of the questions to ask sellers if they’d be comfortable renting an Airbnb and temporary storage space until the home is sold.
Remind buyers that if they’re home, they will need to vacate during showings, which can prove to be disruptive — especially when so many people are working and learning remotely and especially if there are 15 to 20 showings per day.
Home stagers are not interior designers
Many sellers balk at the costs of hiring professional stagers and are often confused about what they do. While sellers think stagers are going to revamp their home’s entire aesthetic, that’s not their job.
Make sure to communicate this point: Stagers aren’t interior designers. Stagers will make a home feel more neutral, open and decluttered. If you’re looking to maximize the sale of your home, professional stagers know the trends driving the highest home sale prices. In fact, staged homes sell for as much as 20 percent more than the list price — a key stat that should be communicated to all homesellers.
Additionally, if you’re leasing an investment property, professional stagers can maximize the rent income. Potential renters also want to feel a connection to their living spaces, and staging helps them envision if the space is big enough and is oriented to fit their needs.
This is especially true for long-term rentals that haven’t been on the market for years and may need significant updates.
Tips to extract maximum value
Sellers appreciate agents who speak honestly. They value seasoned professionals who understands buyer trends that maximize home sales, and can navigate negotiations and unexpected issues.
When agents are promoting the need for investing in a home before a sale, they’re more successful if they’re armed with specific recommendations. Here are five curb appeal and staging tips that can bring a considerable return on investment (ROI), and help sell homes quickly.
1. Paint the exterior and or interior of the home
Chipped and peeling paint leaves an impression that regular home maintenance was ignored by the previous owner. A neutral exterior color that complements neighboring homes can attract buyers looking for a move-in-ready home that doesn’t require too many upfront costs.
Inside the home, neutral is the only color palette to choose. You want buyers to remember the flow and rooms of the house, not “that terrible turquoise color in the dining room.”
2. Replace kitchen hardware and paint dated kitchen cabinets white
Older kitchens encourage buyers to think about remodeling, which will become a sticking point as they present below-market offers. Refresh the kitchen’s look to make it acceptable to a wider range of buyers.
3. Manage the curb appeal
Hire someone to repaint faded curb house numbers. Use a gardening service to trim overhanging trees and shrubs. Don’t be afraid to remove a few plants to allow more light into the home.
4. Hire a power washing crew to clean the house
This includes the windows. Some homes might have decent exterior paint conditions that are covered by a decade of dirt, and a quick wash can bring back the colors and shine.
5. Consider new kitchen appliances
That is, if they’ll improve an otherwise fine kitchen. If the entire kitchen is severely dated then it’s wiser to skip the appliances that might hinder a needed remodel.
All to say, agent communication is key to keeping sellers focused on earning more on the sale with staging. Frame these discussions in terms of the buyer’s expectations.
Explain how buyers are willing to spend more when most of those expectations are met or exceeded through a properly presented home, and why that benefits both sides of the equation.
Jenny Usaj is the Employing Broker and Owner of Usaj Realty, a Denver, CO real estate brokerage. Jenny is a member of the Denver Metro Association of REALTORSⓇ Market Trends Committee.