Jason Robie: Staging homes

Following last week’s article I had a handful of conversations with friends and real estate professionals about the process of staging homes for sale. While nobody can deny the effectiveness of staging a home that you are listing for sale, there is some associated cost and hassle with the process. Add kids and a pet or two to the mix and the concept is almost laughable. Our mid-eclipse discussion turned to ways you can prepare your home without the full upheaval of a comprehensive staging process. In the end we were surprised at the number of items we discovered that wouldn’t break the bank (or the busy schedule) and would still be very effective. Let’s take a look at a handful of ideas.
Keeping things quick and easy, let’s start in the bathroom. One of the more effective ways to brighten up a bathroom is by replacing the faucets. This allows you to modernize the room without having to replace the vanity or other expensive components. “We all know the bathroom is one of the key places that buyers tend to weigh heavily during a showing,” notes Badger Realty agent, Don Lapointe. He continued, “If you can update the room without a full remodel, you get to enjoy the new fixtures and your potential buyers will love the new look”.
When you are replacing the faucet in the shower, go ahead and replace that shower curtain as well. I love the transparent curtains since they let in so much light and are just kinda neat. I also love the ones that have the world map on them. Of course this is also why my honey and I have separate bathrooms! The best part about this process is if it is new it won’t have had a chance to pick up much soap scum while the home is listed. In reality, you should probably stick to a neutral curtain that doesn’t jump out at the buyers. (Maybe keep the map curtain for when the showing is over!)
The kitchen is the next most obvious place to tackle and can quickly become one of the more expensive. Replacing the cabinet doors or at least the handles is a very common strategy and one that we’ve covered in this column multiple times. Another great way to spruce up the kitchen is by replacing your counter-top appliances. I have a cow-shaped kettle that actually “moos” when the water boils. It is simply the greatest invention ever. That said, I don’t think buyers would share my love of the kettle nor her scratched bottom and fading face paint. Replacing those items is cheap, quick and easy and will make a difference for the buyers walking through. You can always put your cow back when they leave.
Another great step for the kitchen, though by no means quick and simple, is a deep clean of the oven and fridge. If you have ever rented an apartment, one of the first places you likely peeked into is the fridge. Most respectable landlords would have cleaned it, but the same goes for home buying. A clean oven and fridge not only show that you cared for the property but also eliminates a move-in task for the buyers.
While we are on the cleaning topic I’d like to highlight a few other areas that could use your attention. Remembering that we are busy people with limited time, these chores can be done over the course of a few weekends to make it more palatable. I would start with the carpets since that is a larger undertaking and it would be great to get it checked off the list. Find a way to empty your home of kids, pets, spouses, etc. and rent a good quality carpet cleaner. The results will last for weeks to come and any subsequent showings will benefit from your work.
A few more simple tasks for cleaning are to simply be sure that your kitchen is spotless when it is time for a showing. Be sure all the dishes are done and put away before the agent comes to the door. You could also put some flowers around the home if that is something you have time for and you can grab flowers from the back yard. Remember, these are supposed to be quick and easy fixes/updates.
Another set of quick tips are to remove all family photos and replace them with artwork or mirrors. You don’t need to go grab a Picasso at the local museum, just find things that you can live with at your favorite craft store or department store and let your inner artist fly. Another spot to check are “tired” lampshades and light bulbs. Remember that brighter is better so up the wattage of those bulbs and clean or replace the lampshades. Both will make a huge difference as we head into the colder, darker months of the year.
Outside the home simply take a look around as you pull into the driveway. Anything that stands out as “eww” needs to be dealt with. Mow the lawn, add some potted or hanging flowers to the deck, clean away any cobwebs and maybe even clean the front-facing windows of the home. Just like removing roadblocks on the way to the closing table during negotiations, it is important to remove them from the home showing on the way to negotiations!
Staging your home doesn’t need to be an expensive, exhausting process that happens every time your agent calls to make another listing appointment. If you pick away at some of these items over the course of a couple weeks you’ll be more proud of the home during the showings and your potential buyers will be more likely to fall in love with it at the same time. Happy Cleaning!