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The Importance of Properly Staging Your Home for Sale

Terry Story, Home Ready To Sell

With Terry Story, a 30-year veteran with Keller Williams located in Boca Raton, FL

Steve spoke with Terry Story, a 30-year veteran at Keller Williams. In this installment of the weekly Real Estate Roundup, Steve and Terry talked about the importance of making a good first impression when you’re selling your home. Properly staging your home, keeping it free of clutter, having a consistent color/pattern theme, general overall cleanliness  is of key importance when you’re trying to sell your home.

It Starts With A Picture

The first part of staging begins with the pictures you put online of your home, which is how most homes for sale are advertised these days. Making sure that each room is clean and aesthetically pleasing is much easier with a photo because a complete mess could literally be shoved from one room to the next. As long as it’s not visible in the picture, you’re golden.

Terry doesn’t advise taking it to an extreme by, for instance, buying fancy lighting and decorating your house to look like a five-star hotel. If that’s what you choose to do, fine, but it isn’t really necessary.

Real Time Viewing

Arguably the most important test when it comes to staging is having an open house or giving tours of your home to prospective buyers. While a concealed mess works fine for pictures when buyers are coming to look at your home in real time that tactic obviously won’t fly.

Make sure that the house, each and every room, is clean. Dusting, sweeping, mopping, and polishing are just some of the basics. Go the extra mile and do your best to make sure that the color schemes are mostly neutral, just nicely accented with some pops of color. Keep it simple and keep it clean.

You Have To Get The Basics Right

Okay, so we know that it starts by having a clean home that is clutter free. But what are some of the other basics that you need to get right? It’s really a lot about showing pride of ownership, showing that you love your home, and that, therefore, any prospective buyers should love it, too. If you’re still living in your home during the process of letting people get a look at it, try to make sure that your family sticks to a pretty rigorous routine of constant cleaning and keeping the home clutter free.

One basic of good staging that people often overlook: depersonalize. You want buyers to envision themselves, their family and their things in your home. If your kids’ trophies from baseball are still there and family photos from Christmas are hanging on every wall, that makes it more difficult for prospective buyers to start envisioning your home as their home.

Lighting is also important. Buyers should be able to see every part of your home clearly. Have strong lights that are also easy on the eyes. Amber bulbs are often a good way to go.

If you’d like to learn more about buying or selling a home, check out Terry Story at Keller Williams!

Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital.  Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.  Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.  The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.

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Steve Pomeranz: It’s time for Real Estate Roundup. This is the time every single week we get together with noted real estate agent Terry Story. Terry is a 30-year veteran with Keller Williams located in Boca Raton, Florida. Welcome back to the show, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.

Steve Pomeranz: A few weeks ago, we talked about this term staging. I wanted to go through this again because I know how important this is, the impression that you make. You only, sometimes, get a first impression.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: I guess, the first staging stage is online and the photographs that you’re showing.

Terry Story: Photographs are critical. You know, Steve, it’s kind of fun actually. If you go online, look at some houses and just look through the photos, you can tell a professional photo from somebody’s inexpensive—I don’t know what they’re using—cameras with their fingers in front of the thing, and-

Steve Pomeranz: Bad lighting.

Terry Story: … bad lighting, and the dog on the bed, and the bed unmade. Would you want to go see that?

Steve Pomeranz: No. But, I’ve said this before, you can tell a professional picture when a 10 x 10 room looks like the ballroom at the Boca Raton Hotel.

Terry Story: That’s right. That’s going to the other extreme.

Steve Pomeranz: It is important to make your first impression really, really, wonderful. Now, if they come to your house, what are they expecting to see, and what is a detraction from your main goal, which is to sell the place?

Terry Story: Sure. Well, absolutely, the first thing anyone has to do is declutter and clean. I cannot emphasize that. You can have an old home with all kinds of formica, old small tile, everyone’s looking for the newer nicest stuff, as long as it’s clean.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, clean.

Terry Story: Clean, clean. When you go to sell your car, you declutter it. You get it detailed, right?

Steve Pomeranz: That’s right.

Terry Story: It’s the same thing here. You want to show pride of ownership.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, the thing too, though, is you’re still living there. So, you have to adopt a policy of cleanliness and declutterness with your family and set the law.

Terry Story: Yes. There’s a house I’m putting on the market this week, and they’ve been working at it for six weeks. They’ve gone to the dump multiple times. They’ve decluttered, donating things. It’s a process. When you make the decision to put your home on the market, make sure you factor in the amount of time it’s going to take to have your house show ready.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, good. Declutter and clean, that’s a simple one, but one that people don’t necessarily follow. Here’s another one, depersonalize.

Terry Story: Yes. That’s really important. You don’t want all your trophies on the walls, because they’re your trophies, that’s personal. Personal photos, it’s okay to have one or two, but sometimes you go into homes and it’s collages of walls of… Think of it, if you were a buyer, would you want to see that? You want a clean canvas. You can’t put yourself in that environment. You don’t see yourself there because it’s so well marked by somebody else’s belongings.

Steve Pomeranz: Of course, if you take the pictures off the wall and there’s-

Terry Story: Then you got to patch them up.

Steve Pomeranz: You got to patch them. You got to paint them.

Terry Story: Yes. That’s why you need six weeks. Oh, another killer, light bulbs. You know how many different color light bulbs there are, Steve?

Steve Pomeranz: You don’t really think about that, but you just go get a light bulb.

Terry Story: Yeah, no.

Steve Pomeranz: To go to Home Depot now to buy a light bulb-

Terry Story: It’s a process. It really is.

Steve Pomeranz: It really is. There’s so many choices.

Terry Story: So many colors of amber and different shades of white. I didn’t realize.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, and I’m colorblind, so it’s a nightmare for me.

Terry Story: Buy all new light bulbs. Make sure they all work, and they’re all the same color.

Steve Pomeranz: All right, what about furniture? You’ve got your favorite chair, but it may not really be ideal.

Terry Story: Well, the customer was just speaking about it, just has been prepping the house for six weeks. I told them we move furniture around to make it more spacious. We took the big Lazy Boy, and we put it in the garage because it blocked the walk-through through the family room. You want to take that into consideration. One of the things that I really like doing is removing the floor rugs.

Steve Pomeranz: Why?

Terry Story: The reason why is it shrinks the room. When you walk into a room and it’s all the same tile and it looks great, and then you have the floor rug where the furniture is, it makes it looks smaller.

Steve Pomeranz: It chops it up.

Terry Story: Chops it up. It’s just a psychological thing.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, well, your eyes follow a line, and if it’s breaking the line, then it has a different psychological effect. Okay?

Terry Story: Yeah, I’ll go with it. All I know is the rooms look a lot bigger without the floor rugs, so can them.

Steve Pomeranz: Now, in extreme cases, if you’re selling a very high-end home. Let’s say there’s little to no furniture in there. Does it make any sense to go in and rent furniture temporarily, almost like a model, when you go to buy a model?

Terry Story: Yes, it does, Steve. As a matter of fact, a lot of the sellers’ agents up north are telling us that they are professionally staging their homes, bringing in furniture. They’re spending a fair amount of money to do so because there’s so much competition up there right now. Everyone claims they’re all moving to Florida, but apparently, there’s a lot of truth to that. When you come down to, say, our neck of the woods, and you’re dealing with people that are in the northeast and they’re staging their homes, and they look beautiful, and then they come down to our homes, you really need to up your game a little bit if you’re looking to get the highest and best price possible for your home.

Steve Pomeranz: All right, so let’s say you’re selling a home in the three to five million plus range, let’s say, and it’s really not an updated home, would you go and put new countertops down, do something that extreme? Or are they doing that at all?

Terry Story: Yes, I would, depending on what your competition is. Your realtor would have to advise you whether or not it’s a good idea or not. If all your competition is newer homes and yours isn’t, well, you need… One way or another you’re going to pay for it. You’re going to either lower the price to match the condition, or you’re going to raise the condition to match the price.

Steve Pomeranz: I know, for me, personally, I want a home that’s done. I don’t really want to be living through the nightmare of remodeling. That’s just my feeling. A lot of people don’t really mind that.

Terry Story: Well, to be very honest with you, right now that seems to be a big feeling that most people are having. They don’t want to take the time to go through it. If you try to find a contractor right now—because we’ve talked about other articles where people are staying in their homes longer. They’re deciding to renovate and stay put. If you’re in the contracting business, you got to be doing really well right now.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, yeah, this is the time. This is the time. My guest, as always, is Terry Story, a 30-year veteran with Keller Williams located in Boca Raton, Florida. She can be found at terrystory.com. Thanks, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.