The tropical weather, beautiful homes, unique island flair–Sanibel real estate usually speaks for itself. With high demand and low supply of houses, it’s not difficult to sell in most markets across the U.S., and the same is true for Sanibel Island, but are sellers really putting their best foot forward and showing their house for what it’s really worth?
We live in the era of HGTV, Pinterest, and other very accessible home styling resources. As a result, the general public has higher expectations of how a house should look from the inside out. Sometimes a major renovation is in order to bring a house up-to-date, but most of the time, a home just needs thoughtful upgrades and staging.
Home staging isn’t a new idea. It’s just the new normal. According to a New York Times article, The Art of Staging, as the practice is “growing in importance and becoming more sophisticated,” it’s become essential in today’s market. In the past, homeowners were encouraged to take their style back a notch (or five), to take down anything that represented their personality and to make more of a clean blank space where buyers could envision their own style taking up residence.
Today, stagers recommend almost the opposite. Buyers these days are looking for something more current: styles that are clean but also include some flair and whimsy–design that’s simple and fun. Stagers will even recommend that sellers do keep some personal photos around, especially images that capture personality, so that buyers can imagine themselves living into the lifestyle they would like to pursue.
While traditional home staging is expanding, it’s far from an “anything goes” methodology. There are still pitfalls to avoid. As much personal style you may have, it is still wise to seek consultation. There are professional designers and stagers who stay current with today’s market and know the intricacies of shifting trends that appeal to today’s buyer. You also need to keep it real. One NY stager commented, “when I see a tray on a bed with a coffee cup, I think, ‘Oh, come on.’ Today’s buyer is more sophisticated, so they don’t want to see phony.”
One NY stager commented, “When I see a tray on a bed with a coffee cup, I think, ‘Oh, come on.’ Today’s buyer is more sophisticated, so they don’t want to see phony.”
From dramatic changes to subtle, significant tweaks, the goal with home staging is not to just sell, it’s to present the property at its best, so others can see a home’s full potential. Buyers can find the home their looking for as they envision themselves living there, and sellers can reap the reward from their sound investment and thoughtful presentation.
Benefits of Staging a Home
“The key is to set the stage for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there,” says home stager Robin DeCapua of Madison Modern Home. A 2015 study by the National Association of Realtors confirmed that more than 81 percent of home buyers find it easier to visualize the property as their future home when it’s staged.
Had the staged living room seen here been empty, many people might have found the large space intimidating and possibly off-putting. Instead, Audrey Gourguechon of Staging North Shore in Chicago created multiple seating zones to highlight it as an inviting living and entertaining space to potential buyers.
Prelisted staged homes spend 90 percent less time on the market than their nonstaged competition, according to a 2016 report by the Real Estate Staging Association. Considering the monthly carrying costs — mortgage, taxes and utilities — that translates into a lot of saved cash if the home spends less time on the market.
Whether it’s for a $500,000 South Florida condo or a $100 million-plus Beverly Hills mansion, hiring an interior designer to temporarily furnish, or stage, a property before it’s listed is a necessary expense in today’s real estate market, experts say.
That’s because staging is what tells the property’s story and wordlessly conveys information about the lifestyle a buyer could have if he or she lived there, said Meridith Baer, the founder of Los Angeles-based premier home staging company, Meridith Baer Home, which also has warehouses in Northern California, Connecticut and Florida.
14 Reasons to Stage Your House Before You Sell It per The Home Buying Institue
1. You’ll Increase the Likelihood of a Sale
When selling your home, the goal is to sell it fast and for the highest possible price. You can increase your chances for success if you stage your house before listing it. That’s the whole point of home staging in the first place — to present your home in the best possible light. If you do this, buyers will be more likely to make an offer. As we continue through this article, you will see how a well-staged home can increase the likelihood of a sale.
2. It Gives the Impression of a Well-Maintained Home
When buyers are walking through your home for the first time, they are making observations on various levels. Obviously, they want to feel comfortable inside the home. They also want to make sure that it meets all of their needs from a structural standpoint (size, layout, number or rooms, etc.). But they’ll also be looking for clues that indicate the true condition of the home.
If you stage your house effectively, it will give buyers the impression of a well-maintained home. After all, basic repairs are the first step in any home-staging plan. You start by fixing what’s broken. This is the bare minimum. After that, you move on to the cosmetic touches like painting and decorating. The result is that the house seems like it’s in tip-top shape. This puts buyers’ minds at ease, which is exactly what you want.
3. You Get a Head Start on Packing
You have to pack up all of your belongings eventually, before you can move. So why not start now? In order to stage your house, you must remove any and all clutter from the premises. You also need to pack away your personal belongings so buyers can imagine themselves living in the house. By staging the home, you’re making your job easier when it comes time to move. You won’t have as much stuff to box up at the last minute.
4. It Helps You Justify the Asking Price
Home buyers today are savvy about property values. We all know that home prices have dropped in the wake of the housing crisis. So you can be sure that potential buyers will scrutinize your asking price like never before. If you stage your house before you try to sell it, you’ll have an easier time justifying the price.
Granted, you still need to determine the fair market value for your home. Home buyers and their real estate agents will use recent sales data to justify your asking price. But they’ll also be influenced by their emotions. If they walk through the house and see a number of things that need to be repaired or replaced, they may balk at your asking price — even if the data is in your favor. If the house appears move-in ready, they will be more likely to accept the price you have set.
5. Staging Makes the House Seem Larger
The art of home staging has a lot to do with space. You want to remove clutter and arrange furniture in a way that maximizes usable space within the house. This gives the impression that the home is larger than it actually is. Have you ever walked through a home with minimal furniture and been amazed at how much space it had? But when you fill up that same house with over-sized furniture, knickknacks and other forms of clutter, it suddenly feels cramped.
As you stage your house, you should pay close attention to the “flow” of each room. People should never bump into a dresser when walking into the bedroom. They should never have to sidestep around an over-sized dining room table. Doors should be able to swing open completely, without hitting furniture or other obstacles. It’s hard to live in such a home, even if you’re used to it.
When you’re done staging, you may be surprised at how large your house seems all of a sudden. This is a common reaction among homeowners. And it’s a positive reaction among potential buyers. You never want buyers to feel like the home is cramped or crowded.
6. Suddenly, Every Room Has a Purpose
Buyers should never have to guess the purpose of a room. Most of us have a certain room in the house that serves multiple purposes. I’m guilty of this myself. We have an area at the top of our stairs that serves as a combination TV room and play room for my daughter.
But I’m not selling my house. I’m living in it. If I were going to stage my house for home buyers, I would give this room a singular purpose. I would remove all of her toys, add some well-placed seating, and show the room as a family TV area. I would want the buyers to see this room and think “popcorn and movie night.”
You might think a room’s purpose is obvious, even if you’re not currently using the room in that manner. But some people have limited vision when it comes to the subject. They may truly be confused about the purpose of a room if it’s not staged properly. It’s almost like taking rooms off the list entirely. Did that house have two family living spaces? Or did it have one family room plus an ambiguous storage area with an exercise bike in the corner? You don’t want buyers asking these kinds of questions.
7. Staging Helps Buyers See Themselves In the House
As a seller, your job is to help people see themselves living in your home. You do this by “de-personalizing” the house, and decorating in a neutral way that appeals to the masses. You want buyers to see the house as a good fit for their family. You don’t want them to see your family living in it. If they see pictures of you everywhere, they’ll have a harder time making a personal connection to the home.
The same goes for taste-specific decorating choices. Unusual paint colors and exotic knickknacks are fine when you are living in the home. But when you’re trying to sell it, you need to neutralize the decor. When you stage your house, you’re essentially removing yourself so that others may insert themselves. This in turn supports item number #1 on this list — it increases the likelihood of a sale.
8. It Puts Your House above the Competition
In most parts of the U.S., there’s an imbalance between housing supply and demand. There are too many homes on the market and not enough buyers to go around. This creates a classic buyer’s market, and it makes it a lot harder to sell a house. This is another reason why you should stage your house before you try to sell it.
As a seller, you have a lot of competition. You can bet that would-be home buyers have seen other houses before visiting yours, and that they’ll see more when they leave. What makes your house stand out from the rest?
When you get down to it, there are only two ways to distinguish your home. You can price it below the competition or make it seem like a nicer home. If you do neither of these things, your house will probably be on the market for a long time. Staging can make all the difference in the world, even if your home is priced the same as comparable properties that are for sale. You are giving the appearance of a better value. This is the key to selling anything, whether it’s a housework toaster.
9. Buyers Will Have a Favorable First Impression
You’ve heard the phrase “curb appeal” before. This is the positive first impression people get when they pull up to your home. But you can’t achieve curb appeal unless you stage the house effectively. Staging doesn’t just occur on the inside. It happens on the outside as well — or at least it should.
You want buyers to be impressed with the property before they even step foot inside. This is a critical moment that will determine their attitude for the rest of the visit. It’s hard to overcome a bad first impression, even if the inside of the house is in prime condition. If you stage the house well, you’ll improve the exterior as well as the interior. This puts buyers in a positive frame of mind before they even walk through the front door.
10. Staging Reduces Out-of-Pocket Costs for Cash-Strapped Buyers
Most home buyers are nearly broke by the time they complete the home buying process. They have to come up with a down payment, closing costs, and additional cash reserves in some cases. The last thing they want to do is buy a house with a long list of repair costs.
This is one of the things buyers will do when they walk through your home. They’ll be looking for items that need to be repaired or replaced, adding it up with their mental calculators. This is another reason to stage your house before you try to sell it.
One of the goals of staging is to make the home appear move-in ready. This means that buyers can bring in their furniture and have a housewarming party the very next day. This is an ideal scenario for buyers. And that’s what home staging is all about — you’re trying to create an ideal situation for the buyer. This increases the likelihood of a quick sale. And isn’t that what you want more than anything else?
11. Buyers Can Have Their Housewarming Party Sooner
This might sound like a one-sided benefit. Why do you care if the buyer can have a housewarming party shortly after moving in? You care because it relates directly to your primary mission as a seller. It helps you sell faster.
Don’t underestimate the power of the entertainment factor. New homeowners love to have family and friends over to visit their new house. It’s one of the first things they will do after moving in. If the house is rough around the edges, the buyers might not be comfortable having that housewarming party right away. A well-staged home, on the other hand, is “party ready” right from the get-go.
This may seem like a trivial notion in the grand scheme of things. It’s not. Every buyer wants an easy transition. Moving is stressful enough. The last thing they want is to inherit a long list of repairs and upgrades. Stage your house well to make life easier for your buyers.
12. You Get the Buyer’s Agent on Your Side
Real estate agents walk through homes all day long. This is especially true for the buyer agents, who might have to show dozens of homes to please their clients. Many of the homes the agents visit will be poorly staged. They’ll have oversized furniture, antiquated wallpaper, and shelves full of clutter. So when an agent walks into a house that has been staged properly, they can get pretty excited about it. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.
As a seller, this is exactly what you want. You want the buyer’s agent to rave about your house. You want him or her to say things like, “This is so much nicer than the other homes we’ve looked at.” The agent’s excitement will rub off on the buyers. This reinforces some of the other points we have discussed in this article. And it all comes back to item #1 at the top of this list. It increases the likelihood of a sale.
13. A “Must-See” Home Will Bring in More Buyers
We just talked about real estate agents getting excited over a well staged home. But the benefits of this go beyond the agent’s buyers. Other agents will hear about your house, as well. Word gets around quickly in real estate circles. The buyer’s agent will want to bring his or her other clients to your house as well. They’ll probably mention it to other agents working in their firm.This will increase the number of buyers who come out to see your home.
In order to enjoy this level of “buzz,” you need to stage your house before you try to sell it. Giving buyers a good first impression is your primary goal. Giving agents a good impression also serves your cause.
Are you interested in Sanibel real estate? Whether you’re buying, selling, or just looking, contact one of our knowledgable Sanibel realtors, or get in touch with our office at 239-472-2411, and we can help pair you with the Sanibel realtor that’s the right fit for you. Even if you’re just looking, you can still contact us or a Sanibel realtor, or search our MLS for available properties.
This article is provided by John R Wood Properties, a full service Sanibel Island real estate agency made of people who love where they live as much as what they do. With local knowledge and decades of combined experience, our Sanibel and Captiva Island realtors are passionate and dedicated to exceeding your real estate needs.
About the author: Nina Rogers is a writer, designer, and illustrator who grew up on Sanibel Island. As a Communications Content Manager for John R Wood Properties, Nina enjoys keeping people updated with the latest in local news and Sanibel real estate.