In my email I regularly receive offers to take staging courses for certification. As a Realtor, you would think I would get the certification for a few hundred dollars and try to use my expertise as a selling feature to clients…not so fast.
Most sellers are in the middle of life when a sale happens. That means dirty laundry piled up, scattered toys, clutter happening. Other clients, who do not live like the rest of us, actually live in magazine homes and might be prepared at any moment for photos and showings. I respect these super easy clients, and even envy them, but usually staging is something I look to the experts for.
These experts have taken that certification course then spent years doing homework and transforming homes from the cluttered, lived-in look to the picture-perfect magazine photo…and they can do it in a few hours-they are good!
When it comes to staging there are different options for sellers depending on how bad the mess..I mean living…is. Often when life is really being lived (my own permanent state), the stager will go from room to room making recommendations. Since I do relocations, we are often putting the home on the market within days of learning of the move. The seller can pick and choose from the stager’s advice. What’s affordable and what’s even possible?
Red curtains in a master bedroom giving a red glow to the room (which might be lovely but will show bad in photos) might get swapped out, but the matching red comforter can get covered with some neutral pillows and throws to save money and time for photos in two days.
The stager can help transform the house room by room based on the trends in housing and the professional tips they know will help. It sounds like work and it is. But well worth it.
About 20 years ago I was in the middle of “living” when we decided to move from South Florida. My Realtor did not provide a stager, which wasn’t as common back then, but he told me politely I needed to clean up the clutter. 24 hours later every stray toy, hair clip, sock and Lego was piled into jumbo garbage bags and stashed in the garage. We had already relocated enough times that I knew what it needed to look like. It wasn’t easy but I got it ready to go on the market the next day for a long weekend of buyers.
The next day the shocked realtor brought a buyer through and we were under contract that night. If he had to tiptoe around the mess that young single buyer probably wouldn’t have seen himself living in our house. We want every potential buyer to see themselves living in the home.
If the house is already void of massive clutter, the stagers can come in for a few hours immediately before the photographer. They will get the home ready for perfect photos with the addition of greenery, moving some items around, folding towels and fluffing the bedding so it looks fantastic. This is nice for even the best kept homes.
Some sellers do not want stagers because either it will be too much stress or they believe their house already looks great, and some actually do! I’m really good at grammar and spelling but when I write a book, I don’t edit it myself because I don’t see the mistakes. There may be some here, even though I read through it before posting. Sellers can fix up their homes perfectly but not see the chocolate smudges from little fingers on the light switches or discolored cabinet next to the pet dish. It’s the little things we miss. I invest in stagers for my listings because stagers have thousands of hours devoted to looking at details and studying what sells.
Why bother, when in the current Chattanooga market, we know that a home will sell immediately as long as it doesn’t smell like mildew or smoke, and it might still sell at that. Having a quick buyer before it goes on the market will definitely make your life easier. If you follow the stager’s advice, have professional photography and open the house to all the buyers you’ll probably have more than one offer with those buyers bringing their best price!!
It’s great to have bragging rights that your house sold so fast that you didn’t even have to get it ready for market but if your listing has any home photos be careful what you have sitting around in that “lived” in home. Most buyers I work with zoom in on the photos to look up close at details and you probably do too. Don’t forget that your listing lives on the internet for years after you’ve moved, red curtains and dirty switch plates included.