How to make your house picture-perfect for the sale
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How to make your house picture-perfect
for the sale
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Katherine Scarrow - The Globe and Mail
Staging has become a common, if not integral, step in the home-selling process,
especially as savvy HGTV-fed consumers continue to tune into programs like Designed
to Sell, The Stagers and Get it Sold.
“Years ago you could put your house on the market and nobody cared what it looked
like,” says Cindy Stocker, a property stylist at Vancouver-based Urban Presentations.
“But people are more impressionable these days.”
Blogs, articles and websites are awash in statistics championing the effectiveness of
staging. According to Designed to Sell, for example, virtually all houses that are staged
sell over asking price, while an AOL Money poll found that 87 per cent of people say
home presentation makes a difference in most sales.
In 2011, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) found that homes staged prior to
listing, as opposed to those staged after sitting on the market, were likely to sell 79 per
cent faster.
Of course, some find the idea of paying thousands of dollars to stage a home deplorable,
and may argue there’s scant genuine data proving its effectiveness to sell a home.
These studies cannot possibly account for the slew of factors that may impede or
facilitate a sale, such as market fluctuations, local market conditions, location and the
structural condition of a home.
But others view staging as a relatively easy and cost-effective way to make a strong first
impression on Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, to attract more interested buyers and to
command a higher purchase price.
And most homeowners would agree that it can be difficult to bring a buyer’s perspective
to a property they’ve lived in for years. The mandate of the professional stager, then, is
to bring this much-needed fresh set of eyes to ensure that the space appears well
maintained and move-in ready to prospective buyers.
Here’s what to expect in terms of services and costs:
Site visit - no cost
Most companies do not charge for the initial meeting, which generally involves a brief 15minute walk-through of the space. This meeting helps the stager to help determine the
Consultation - between $75 and $250
During the one-hour consultation, the stager offers advice on curb appeal and then
moves room-to-room, pointing out areas that could use improvement, says Anne
Bourne, the owner of Toronto-based StagingWorks. Depending on the company, they
will follow up with report of recommendations, or the client will simply take notes during
the walk-through and create his or her own do-it-yourself list.
Two to three-hour tweak - $250
This “once over” or “tune-up” service is for people with modest spaces, like condos, to
get their places photo-ready. The stagers will use what the client has in the apartment,
whether it’s bedding, art or furniture, and suggest ways to improve the flow so that
potential buyers can move through the space freely.
The works - from $800 to upwards of $5,000
The cost depends on the size of the space (i.e. 500 sq. ft. condo vs. 3,000 sq. ft. house)
and the amount of “fluffing” that is required. If it’s just art, area rugs, lamps and
accessories that the home owner needs, the cost will run on the lower end of the scale.
But when movers are involved to bring in a new sofa or dining room table, for example,
or tradesmen are needed to paint the walls and make repairs, the price can escalate
Ms. Stoker and Ms. Bourne say the average person will shell out between $2,300 to
$2,500 for staging services, rental of furniture for a month and the hiring of a moving
company. They also caution against stagers who offer cut-rate prices.
Local Stations
“Often you get what you pay for,” says Ms. Stoker, who recommends getting a couple of
quotes on the services or rentals before hiring the company.
The DIY approach
If hiring the pros is not in your cards, here are some quick-and-dirty ways to help you
stage your home on a dime:
1. Remove 20 to 50 per cent of furniture and accessories in each room
2. Stick to neutral paint colours on the wall, and add a fresh coat of bright white paint to
the baseboards
3. Clean all windows and scrub all floors
3. Pick up a couple of planters and a new welcome mat for your front porch
4. Buy a fresh set of crisp, clean bedding and white fluffy towels for the bathroom
5. Edit your art. If your walls are plastered with wedding or baby photos, go out and buy
a couple of works that are a bit more mainstream.
6. Ditch the shoe racks, small book cases or storage pieces. These will give the buyer
the impression that space is tight.
7. Freshen things up with flowers and fruit. Ms. Stoker says her team always puts an
orchid or greenery in every bathroom and puts a bowl of fruit – lemons, limes, oranges –
in the kitchen.
8. Don’t use air fresheners to mask the small of tobacco, dirty laundry, cats or last
week’s leftovers. Try using a lemon-scented cleaner, says Ms. Bourne, to help remove
unwanted odours.
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