Staging Helps Sell Homes

How to correctly prepare properties for showings, to make them sell more quickly.

April 1, 2002

Homes may languish on the market for a variety of reasons, many outside a salesperson’s control, such as a buyer's market, unrealistic seller, or undesirability property. However, many salespeople agree that if a home is staged correctly from the beginning, it can help prevent a troubled listing.

Some salespeople use staging lists to guide the seller to make the home more attractive to buyers. Typical lists include such advice as:

  • Improve drive-up through such steps as removing clutter, planting fresh flowers, and trimming trees.
  • Remove all clutter indoors.
  • Make closets look larger by packing away out-of-season clothes.
  • Paint interior and exterior, using a neutral tone.
  • Depersonalize the home by removing photos, mementos, and dated articles.
  • Set a party dinner table, including mats, cloth, napkins, candles, flowers, china, and crystal.
  • Remove valuables, prescription medicine, collectibles, and breakables.
  • Make cosmetic repairs, such as replacing peeling wallpaper, caulking tubs, and polishing doorknobs.
  • Make functional repairs; for example, fix drippy faucets and sticking doors, and mend fences.
  • Pack anything you are not using and store it out of the house
  • Clean up daily after pets; scoop after dogs, sift cat litter trays, and place fresh paper in bird cages

Is there more that can be done? Staging lists need to be customized for each home. A generic list may make a seller feel you haven't really looked at the home if they have already done some of the things on your list. Also, many times sellers don't understand the importance of staging. That's when you need to drive the point home.

"I stage just about every one of my listings. Sellers live in their homes and they may not be aware what buyers are looking for today," says Dallas salesperson Linda Claycomb. Bringing in some plants or moving some furniture around can make a big difference."

She doesn't hesitate to tell sellers exactly what they need to do to get the home sold. "A fine listing won't sell with orange shag carpet, period," says Claycomb. "One house had pretty hardwoods, and I sold it in two days by asking the owners to take up the carpet in the bedrooms."

Romantic surprises also help put buyers in the mood to buy. "I bought a house, and the market went south, and even though I recarpeted and repainted, it didn't sell until it was staged," explains Claycomb. "When the renters moved out, I filled a garden room with plants. The kitchen had a ledge around the top so I put baskets and flowers. I took off the cabinet doors and put on glass fronts.I put blooming plants in the tubs. It sold the first day after it had been staged for full price."

Best tips? "Keep minimal furniture in the home," says Claycomb. "Everything has to be spotlessly clean. Bookcases can be turned into major miracles if you redo them with nice groupings of books. Group decorative items in threes, if possible."

The main point to staging? "People today have busy lives," says Claycomb. "They want to walk in and look at a home and say, 'This is mine. I can move into it without doing anything.' Most buyers want a move-in-ready home."

(c) Copyright 2002 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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