The Secrets of Staging Your Home to Sell

The Secrets of Staging Your Home to Sell

Home staging is a seller’s secret weapon for a successful home sale. Staging your home allows you to highlight your home’s strengths and downplay its weaknesses. To find out more about how staging can help transform your home from drab to fab and potentially help get you a higher selling price, I talked to Cindy Coughlin, an award-winning stager and Owner and Certified Canadian Staging Professional of Dream Home Interiors, who works in the Greater Toronto Area. Cindy is also President of the Real Estate Staging Association Toronto/GTA Chapter.

Why should a seller consider staging their home and investing extra money?

CC: Typically your home is your largest investment and staging a home allows you to showcase its best features. The cost of staging is usually a lot less than the typical price reduction when a home doesn’t sell. To get the best competitive edge in the marketplace, a staged home is well worth the modest investment.

How does staging work?

CC: A professional stager works to improve the flow of the house by suggesting moving or removing furniture and then bringing in items that unify the space, through design and colour, to create harmony. Stagers can use the homeowner’s furniture and only bring in accessories and artwork to complement the space, which will help if you’re working with a modest budget. And if you have a bigger budget, they can bring in rental furniture to update your home even more.

So a lot of it has to do with first impressions?

CC: Most buyers look online before deciding to see a house. To get on a buyer’s “must be seen” list, a house should have fantastic photos. A professional stager knows how to create vignettes in each room to help the photographer showcase its best features. You only have a few seconds to impress a buyer and the time clock starts at the curb!

Do you have any research to suggest staged homes get a higher selling price?

CC: The Real Estate Staging Association has statistical evidence that shows staged houses sell faster and for more dollars. Here is a recent example from my own experience. Two identical homes in Vaughan, a suburb just outside of Toronto, were up for sale. Home #1 had no staging, but had updated washrooms and according to the listing agent, a nicer yard than Home #2; it sold for $700,000. The second house staged by us was sold for $771,000. I think that is a pretty good return on their staging investment!

Staged interior room
Photo courtesy of Dream Home Interiors
(Photographer: Victor Wei, Winsold Realty Photography)

Staging doesn’t have to break your budget. Here’s a list of Cindy’s tried-and-true inexpensive staging tips.

  1. Deck the walls. Paint has the best return for your money. Select neutral hues for your walls like soft white, light grey and soft beige tones. Paint your doors and trim a soft white to brighten up your space.
  2. Remove personal photos. People want to be able to see themselves in the house so remove personal photos.
  3. Clear oversized furniture. If you have to manoeuvre around bedroom furniture because it’s too big for your room, clear out the large pieces. Leave just the bed and night tables. People are buying space and if the house looks cramped, buyers will feel that there isn’t enough room for them to live there comfortably.
  4. Declutter your closet and rooms. Remove 50 per cent of the items in your closet and make sure there is nothing on the floor and minimal items on shelves; same goes for all rooms.
  5. Prim and polish. Have your house professionally cleaned if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. Make sure light fixtures, fan blades, light cover plates and baseboards are wiped. Remove any signs of surface mold. Also, with allergies and scent sensitivities on the rise, do not try and mask odours with plug-in air fresheners.
  6. Tend to minor repairs. Fix broken light cover plates or minor wall patches before painting.
  7. Out darn spot. Clean carpet stains. If you don’t want to hire a professional, you can rent a steam cleaner.
  8. Make the beds. Before leaving the house, make all beds and pick up any clothes off of the floor.
  9. Free up counter space. Remove all items from kitchen and bathroom counter tops including toasters, blenders, coffee makers, hair appliances, and toothbrushes. Just put out a few well-placed decorative items and add some fresh flowers for a punch of colour.
  10. Change light bulbs. Make sure all bulbs work and change them to daylight bulbs (rather than blue hues) for better lighting and a more ambient look.
  11. Don’t neglect the outside of your home. Remove leaves, dead branches, cut the grass, trim hedges, paint the front door and garage doors, and ensure all minor maintenance issues have been resolved (like filling in cracks in walkways).
  12. Leave outdoor lights on at night. Many prospective buyers drive by a listing at night before deciding to make an appointment, so leave your outdoor lights on to create a warm and inviting curb appeal.
  13. Take Fido to the kennel. While your home is on the market, take your pets to a kennel or a family member to help alleviate potential buyers’ stress levels and allergies.

Ever staged your home? Any tips that made a difference to help get it sold? Let us know in the comments below.