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To Stage Or Not To Stage?

Published on Thursday - July 30, 2015

You can spend months working to get your house in working order, but unless you can find a buyer it will be for naught. The most important thing you can do on a flip is generate interest and get it to the finish line. Without interest, there won’t be any buyers. Instead of simply glazing over the finished product and assuming that people will love it, you may need to go the extra step: staging. Staging is the process of presenting your property in the most desirable condition possible. This could be as dramatic as fully furnishing the property, or as subtle as swapping out the color of the walls. Spending the time and money to make your property appealing may be the final touch that gets it sold or rented.

The purpose behind staging is to give the prospective buyer a preview of what it would be like to live in the property. A blank canvas may sound appealing, but buyers or renters typically don’t have the vision of what the house could be. In staging, you can instill a feeling reminiscent of home. The more a buyer or renter feels like your house is a home, the greater chance they will make an offer. Conversely, if you cannot generate interest, the most beautiful, well-crafted home may be left sitting on the market looking for offers. Staging is not for every property, but for the right house and with the right work it will have the desired benefit. Here are some common staging tips to follow:

1. Know your market: You should never stage a high end home the same as you would a lower priced property. If the staging does not fit the property, it will come across as disingenuous and you will end up wasting money. If you are going to stage, you should enlist the services of a professional company. You can probably do an adequate job yourself, but you need to keep your personal tastes out of it. What you may like in a property, the masses may not. A professional “stager” has a better grasp on what colors, furniture and schemes best fit the property. They know how to keep the property bright, open and most comfortable. If you are going to commit to staging, you might as well have a professional handle it.

2. Make it practical: With any staging for a rental or a rehab, you want to make it feel as comfortable as possible. You also want to make the furniture options something they could readily obtain and afford. There is a fine line between using all the space and leaving it too bear. Sometimes it is the small things, like the way a house smells or the wattage of light bulbs used, that make a big difference. Focus on shower curtains, rugs, blinds and other everyday items that are noticed, but not an essential part of the property. Staging is all about using the space in the best way possible and making everyone that enters the property feel like they are at home.

3. Maximize every room’s appeal: Renters and buyers are known for looking at every square inch of the property. As the owner, you need to make every inch count. You may not think to spend too much time on a laundry room or kids play room, but these could be the rooms that make a difference. If you have a small room or small closet, do things that will maximize the space. Take advantage of shelves, door space and corners. If you look at staging as a collection of rooms, you will get the most out of it.

4. Don’t forget the exterior: The interior can be staged perfectly, but if the outside is a mess nobody will notice. Little things like fresh mulch, new plants and trimmed bushes go a long way. If you have a deck, you should consider getting a small table with chairs that accent the area. You can also include a grill, a storage unit or anything else that fits the property. You are essentially wasting valuable outdoor space if you don’t focus on it. The exterior gives you a chance to be as creative as you want. Anything from a fire pit to a specific stain color are options you have available. What you can’t do is just assume that buyers will ignore the exterior on their way inside the property.

It is funny how many investors will scoff at paying for staging after spending thousands on rehab work. In most cases, the quality of your work and the presentation of the house will sell itself, but this is not always the case. Staging does not ensure that you will get activity, but it certainly help pull the best out of your property. By spending some extra money and presenting the property in the best possible light, you give yourself the best chance at generating interest. The more interest you create, the more in demand your property is and ultimately the more you get out of it. This is particularity important in areas where supply is scarce. You need to do everything you can to give yourself every advantage. Staging may mean the difference between a successful transaction and wondering why you aren’t getting the offers you expected.

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