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Plain Jane to cover girl; showing to sell

Kathy Filgo
Vail CO, Colorado

Every home on the market is going to sell – the question is when and for how much.

“Staging” a home for sale has jumped to the public’s attention over the last several years significantly due to the popularity of television shows on the Home and Garden network featuring “what tos” and “how tos” in giving your home a much-needed facelift.

These shows, such as “Designed to Sell,” focus on what a home needs to improve its appearance and, particularly, how to enhance its appeal on the red carpet of the home-sale market.

Staging is basically a three-part process: the original assessment, followed by the actual work phase, and finally the “putting it together” phase.

Staging can be composed of just a few beauty regimens, some very easy and inexpensive methods to expose the full attractiveness of the property. This would be such things as cleaning, de-cluttering, or furniture rearranging.

A little further up the expense ladder would be purchasing new bedding, new towels, or a new area rug. On occasion, for the home to gain the full value of its potential, more extensive nips and tucks may be required. This would involve undertakings such as tearing down walls, installing a mantel over a fireplace, or landscaping the front yard.

However, before the bulldozer arrives to put in a swimming pool, make sure any expensive enhancements you’re considering are those in which you will recoup your investment, truly add value to your home, and place it in a position to appeal to the broadest number of people. What you’re looking for in staging is for your home to be reflected in its most youthful, fresh, well-maintained state, not something disfigured beyond its natural look.

Some research states that only about 10 percent of homebuyers can actually visualize a home’s potential; this can be the reason a vacant home is frequently more difficult to sell than one that contains furnishings. Difficulty in visualizing is also one of the reasons a home that’s cluttered, lacks flow due to furniture placement, and is filled with distracting accessories stands in the way of the buyer seeing a home’s true character. Staging a home highlights the assets, downplays flaws and presents a home with its best foot forward.

Staging is a proven success method for helping to sell a home. The Wall Street Journal has reported that “staging speeds up sales in a sluggish market and can bump up prices from 2 percent to 10 percent in a moderate market…” An article in The Denver Post stated, “National Association of Realtors findings show that staged homes sell 50 percent faster than non-staged homes.”

The Christian Science Monitor reported statistics (compiled on staging by Stagedhomes.com) that stated unstaged homes spent an average of 22 days on the market while those that were professionally staged spent an average of 11 days ” half the time. The paper also reported information on the effects of staging offered by HomeGain, an online resource for homebuyers and sellers, citing a poll of 2,000 real estate agents and finding a return to the seller of two to 13 times their cost of staging.

For most of us it’s difficult to be objective about our own homes. It’s our sanctuary filled with dear memories and packed with our personal treasures.

But selling a home is not about individual taste. You are not selling your “things,” you’re selling your house, and that’s what a buyer wants to see: the house. More often than not it takes an outside party (and the willing ear of the seller) to discuss changes that can enhance the value of a home. There are several options:

Hiring a professional stager can assist in determining the changes needed to give your home broader appeal; it can be money well spent.

Your real estate broker may be of assistance to you in this arena, particularly in determining a return on your investment when considering bigger, more expensive changes.

Your broker may also be able to assist you with a rental/lease situation on furniture and accessories. A company will lease furnishings on a monthly basis or to be sold with the home.

If you know someone with a design or decorating background or whose home you find particularly exquisite, their input may prove helpful.

Keep in mind, family and friends may want to give you advice and while they may have very helpful suggestions, if it goes beyond the cleaning, rearranging, buying-a-new-lamp phase, talk with an expert. This is a home you are leaving; the point of staging is to determine only what adds value to the home. Someone else will be bringing their own personal decorating and design taste.

Staging is something that assists both the seller and the buyer; the seller wants to sell their home in the quickest amount of time and for the highest dollar amount, and the buyer wants to see the home with as few distractions as possible while envisioning their own family and possessions fitting comfortably into the space. Sometimes an extreme makeover is needed but usually, like an actress on the red carpet, a little makeup and a pretty dress will do the trick.

Vail, Colorado


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