Friday, February 1, 2013

Ok, you've got the price right, but you're not getting any offers. What about staging?

Of course you’ve put away the kids' toys, stored the stuff that was crowding the closets, cleaned the place to sterility, put the fresh flowers on the coffee table, baked the cookies. But this may not be enough.

It's hard for any of us to look with perfect objectivity at the home we know and love. There are little flaws we've lived with so long we don't even see them any more.  Or if we do see them, we think nobody else will. 

You may think that nobody will notice a little patch of blistering paint in the corner of a ceiling. But what that says to a buyer is water damage.

Other places where there are seemingly minor imperfections--a finger mark by a light switch, a crack high up on a plaster wall, unwashed windows, a broken floor tile here or there--may not seem like a reason for a buyer to reject a property.

But the truth is, any or all of these can create a subliminal perception of a lack of care and maintenance.

Furniture that's been loved for too long by too many children can look shabby.   Children's art scotch-taped to the walls of their bedrooms is charming, but not a selling feature.

If you've already moved out and the place is empty, believe it or not, the rooms will look smaller. Furniture gives it scale.

It's just like an old saying brokers have: Nobody ever bought anything they saw on a rainy day. It's true. A lack of sunshine can make even the most gorgeous property seem dreary. And even a few scratches and patches can have the same effect.

Even if the place is in perfect condition and everything in it is more or less new, it may not appeal to everyone.

Too much furniture or too many bookcases can make a room seem smaller.  Not enough furniture makes it seem cold. 
The wrong furniture arrangement can make a room seem unwelcoming. Or maybe furniture you chose with an eye to your particular needs just doesn't appeal to others.

A professional stager can work miracles.

You may not want to spend the money.  You may think that you and your broker can do it all by yourselves.

Bite the bullet and hire a stager.  A tiny investment can bring you a huge return.

And staging is so common now that if you haven't had your property staged it will look worse by comparison.

I sold a townhouse recently which we had professionally staged. The difference the stager made was amazing.

The initial consultation cost $350, but as the sellers chose to hire the stager to do everything she had recommended, there was no charge for the consultation.

It was a big townhouse, four stories, about 4,300 square feet not counting the basement.

Altogether the owners spent a trifling $7,000 to have some painting done, clutter removed,an old carpet runner removed and the floor under it polished to a gleam, ironwork at the front gate and on the stoop repaired and painted, furniture rearranged, art work borrowed or rented and hung, and various other things taken care of.

Before the staging, the house was a warm, comfortable family home.

After the staging it was a warm, comfortable family mansion.
It was somehow regal.  It said affluence, sophistication, meticulous maintenance, good taste.

Even seasoned brokers who saw the house before-and-after were immensely impressed. Before the staging, many had predicted the asking price of $3,450,000 was too high.

But I had done all the research, personally visited every similar house then on the market, and I was convinced the price, or something close to it, was achievable.

Despite all predictions, within weeks the sellers had five offers to choose from and the house sold for the full asking price of $3,450,000.

If we hadn’t staged, it could have gone for $100,000 less.

And by the way, in case you’re interested, the stager was Stacey Anderson of Nest Designs,

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