I just recently had the pleasure of listing (& selling quickly!) two beautiful homes in the North Dallas area. Both homes were in very desirable neighborhoods, and were likely to sell fast regardless of staging, BUT… to get top dollar after receiving multiple offers within 24 hours like we did, is another thing altogether! I believe that it had everything to do with the fact that we staged the homes, or “prepped the homes for market” well in advance of making the listings public in MLS. I always tell my Clients that we aren’t decorating to sell, but instead, we are neutralizing the home to make it less “taste specific” (my favorite term) to appeal to the masses of buyers and not just a select few. During my initial listing consultation, I ask the Seller if it’s ok for me to take pictures of each room or area (including the outside front entry way and back yard/patio) in the exact condition it is in that day… in other words, in the condition the Seller has been living in the house currently. Then I go back to my office and look at each photo one by one and make notes on what needs to be done to maximize the beauty (& more importantly VALUE) of the home. I then put together a list of suggested “make ready” itemsthat the Seller should do prior to my coming back to do my staging. Here are some common things that I almost always suggest:
Pack up and store approximately ½ to ¾ of the furniture. Sounds like a lot, I know… but believe me, it’s not. I will literally walk through each room and suggest to them what pieces of furniture need to be removed.
Remove all window coverings (valances, draperies, etc.) and rods; fill holes and touch up paint. Leave only the blinds; which incidentally almost always need a good cleaning as well. Get the windows professionally cleaned.
Remove ALL fake/silk trees and floral arrangements.
Take down almost everything from the walls and fill the holes and touch up the paint. During my walk-through I will ask that certain wall décor be put aside (mainly mirrors, iron pieces and neutral art pieces) that I can utilize in different key areas later.
Remove everything from the kitchen counters; pack up what you don’t use daily, and hide any toaster ovens or coffee makers in cabinets that are easily accessible.
Clean and organize closets, pantries and laundry room areas; nothing should be left on top of the washer and dryer!
Clean carpets, tile and wood floors! Remove any unnecessary area rugs.
Clean all showers, sinks and bathtubs, as well as remove ALL toiletries from view in bathrooms.
Declutter shelves and furniture surfaces such as dressers and coffee tables. It’s ok to leave a few family photos, but remove trophies, awards, etc. A good rule of thumb is to pack up anything that is smaller than a cantaloupe!
Clean patios and entry ways. Remove any unsightly outdoor furniture, mis-matched flower pots or rusty grills.
Once the Sellers have completed these “make ready” items, my assistant and I come back and do our magic: we re-arrange the remaining furniture to maximize the living space, replace fake/silk plants and floral arrangements with REAL live floor plants and fresh flowers, put up key “neutral” wall décor, and stage kitchen counters with simple touches such as cookbooks on stands and real fruit in a bowl, along with simple place settings and napkins for informal eating areas. For formal dining spaces, we typically use chargers, nice dishes, wine goblets, napkins and napkin rings, and a simple centerpiece or candle sticks. As an added first impression we like to put out a nice potted (flowering) plant by the front door along with a door mat that says “welcome” to potential buyers!
This may seem like a lot of work to some, but I think it takes more effort on the Seller’s part to have to deal with showings for days, weeks or even months on end because their house just wasn’t appealing enough to sell quickly for top dollar! So, prepare your home before you put it on the market… and don’t confuse this with decorating… just think of it as “neutralizing your home” to maximize its potential and VALUE instead! You won’t be sorry, I promise! Happy Selling!
Submitting an offer on a home without ever setting foot inside is not new… and now with the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has become more common place for buyers who simply don't want to take any risks. But is this a smart thing to do?