John Lusink Speaks About Helping Clients Stage Their Homes

So, you’ve agreed with your client on a listing price; you’ve taken photos of your client’s home; you’ve published a listing; and along with publishing a listing, you’ve published an open house date. Such an incredible amount of work. But, now after all that work has been done, you, as the agent or broker, can kick up your feet and rest until the day of the open house, right? Well, as we all know, the answer is no – the work is not quite over yet. One very crucial step is missing – and that step is preparing your client’s house aesthetically for the eyes of all those prospective buyers who will walk through that door come open house. In other words, the missing step, the step that is a necessity prior to any home showing, is “staging” the home.

Now, naturally everyone has their aesthetic preferences, and, indeed, some agents may differ greatly in what they feel correctly staging a home entails. However, despite the room for subjective opinion on the matter, there are certain core tasks that should always be completed in order to properly stage a home.

In order to help experienced and inexperienced agents alike, I’d like to go over a few very basic tasks that are critical to preparing a property for a showing.

Depersonalize the home as much as possible

Temporarily ridding your client’s home of a portion of his or her personal items helps stage the home in two ways: one, it helps remove clutter, which is arguably the greatest enemy to successfully preparing a property to show; second, depersonalizing a home provides prospective buyers a much easier opportunity to visualize how their belongings will look in the home.

Now depersonalizing the seller’s home does not mean that every single item of the seller’s has to be removed from the premises. Instead, focus on temporarily removing such things as family photos and quirky decorations and out-of-the-ordinary furniture pieces.

Beyond that, some industry experts recommend that in staging a home, a hotel-chic aesthetic should be strived for. What exactly is a “hotel-chic” aesthetic? Well, just think of some of the style elements found in a typical hotel room and think of how that can be applied to a residential home.

So, to that point, in addition to removing clutter from the home and depersonalizing it, consider adding crisp, new hand towels to the bathroom; or consider adding a few bars of designer soap in the bathroom too; and beyond that, investing in matching ensembles, such as matching trays and waste baskets and tissue holders, is never a bad idea.

Don’t Forget “Curb Appeal” Staging

As it goes, sometimes we’re so focused on perfecting the interior of the house prior to prospective buyers visiting that we forget that the exterior of house is in many ways even more important. The term “curb appeal” is bandied about in the real estate world so often in part because the front of the home is the first thing a prospective buyer sees.

So, keep curb appeal in mind when staging a home and ensure that the front of the home – the area of the front yard all the way to the home’s front door – looks as clean and tidy as possible.

If a little bit of work is needed to rake some leaves and pick up any pieces of trash, then you or the seller can probably do that on your own. However, if more work is needed in order to heighten the home’s curb appeal, then consider hiring a gardener to quickly come and mow the line and trim the hedges and complete all the other exterior tasks that need to be done.

How Does the Kitchen Look Again?

As most agents and brokers should know, probably the most important room in any home – the room that garners the most amount attention from a buyer – is the kitchen. It’s for this reason why, when staging a home, the kitchen must be a focus of your efforts.

If the home needs any sort of major aesthetic upgrades prior to the open house, and if there happen to be budgetary constraints, then, monetarily, the kitchen should be first in line. Above all, regardless if kitchen upgrades are needed or not, make sure that at the time of the open house, every square centimeter of the home’s kitchen counter is free of clutter.

Call On An Expert

Now let’s face it, we as real estate agents and brokers know a thing or two about pricing a home and closing deals and networking with prospective clients. But, there are probably others in different industries who are more knowledgeable when it comes to interior design and styling and all the other core skills associated with successfully staging a home.

That’s all to say that you as an agent should never feel that it will reflect poorly on you if you reach out to others who can help you better stage a home. If you happen to have a friend or acquaintance who is an interior designer, then consider asking them to visit the property prior to the open house, so that they can offer their opinion on what else needs to be done to the home’s interior in order to better stage it. Alternatively, there are organizations, such as the Real Estate Staging Association, or RESA, who specialize
in home staging and who offer not only literature on how to properly stage a home, but directories of professional home stagers, some of whom may be in your area.

Yes, staging a home is a critical step to selling it, but always know that there are experts on the matter and resources out there that will help you stage a home perfectly.