Best Staging Advice for Home Sellers

Steven,-Sandra,-Chris.jpgFor Real Estate Week, we asked real estate expert Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV's Property Virgins and a guest on Monday's show, to give us her advice why you should stage your home before you put it on the market and how to go about it.

The answers she gave us, featured below, provide a ton of great insight into what attracts and scares off potential buyers and could help earn you thousands more in the sale of your home.

Why is staging so important?

Staging started with something very simple, like baking cookies before an open house. It's all about making the home as attractive as possible to the broadest range of potential buyers. I think of it as a form of subliminal marketing. The realtor handles all the external marketing, and you need to do the things inside your home that will help it sell faster and for more money.

Now that staging has become a household word the bar has been raised and buyers expect your home to be presented in its most favourable light. There's no going back! Every room, including the outdoors in any season, your garage and your closets must be staged to a certain degree.

In some areas, a complete overhaul is required in order to keep up with the competition. In other areas, simply cleaning and de-cluttering will do the trick.

Rules to stage by:

What's a reasonable amount of money to spend per room?

It's more about the entire home. The general rule it to spend about 1% of the value of the home. For a $400,000 home you should spend around $4000. That includes bringing in staging furniture, painting, cleaning, storing, fixing, landscaping and so on.

Is the goal to go neutral or to incorporate the latest trends, like wallpaper?

A bit of both works well. The latest, newest, funkiest trend will only work for certain demographics. I say go go mainstream - use what has been trending for a while now. For example, you can still do the dark espresso-colored wood furniture. Even though the designers have moved away from that, the majority of people are not up to date with the latest trend and it will lend a comfortable yet contemporary feel.

Although wallpaper has enjoyed a comeback over the last several years, the average buyer cringes when they see it on walls. To them it represents a ton of work. Steven and Chris and I know that is not true and, personally, I love to see an accent wall done in paper, but we have to pander to the most common perception. Neutral contemporary colours tend to be a safe bet.

Now, on an individual level, if your home is in a very trendy area and you are staging for a particular demographic you can use a really funky wall treatment, even stone as an example, and get the desired results.

Is it okay to use inexpensive furniture?

Absolutely! I do hate to waste though, and buying inexpensive new stuff may mean that you toss it out later, which contributes to landfills and is bad for the environment and your pocket book.

But speaking of trends, reclaimed and repurposed stuff is so in that you can search around for some great finds.

But my number one piece of advice is: use a professional stager. They have a warehouses full of the right furniture and accessories to do the job right and it will cut down on the waste. It's also kind of nice to stand back and watch them work and worry over "this lamp or that". A large portion of your budget will go toward their fee, but is definitely worth it!

In your experience, how much can proper staging increase the sale price of your home?

There are some stats out there but it's hard to determine, except for within specific neighbourhoods. In my neighbourhood even a "tear down" would sell for tens of thousands more with the right staging.

Put it this way: if your home looks unclean, cluttered, disorganized, outdated, flamboyant or tired, you have cost yourself thousands by not staging. It will sit on the market for a longer period of time than the staged competition, stigmatizing your home and resulting in a price reduction. No seller wants to hear "we have to lower the price".

It's worth getting your realtor to advise you on this. You don't want to over spend or under stage. Do it right and reap the rewards!

Neutral home staging.jpg

Check out the tips from the above Ask S&C vignette on decorating with neutrals colors, perfect for staging.

You can check out more of Sandra's advice on buying and selling your home in Monday's episode.