10 Staging Tips to Maximize Profits in a Strong Housing Market

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Right now, we're in a seller's market. Chances are you will get a buyer for your home no matter where you live. Thus at this point, it's not about making your home sell-able  It's all about making your home so sell-able that you get much more for it than you thought possible.

One of the best ways to maximize your potential home sales profit is to stage your home before showing it. This means that you set it up to look like someone would want to live in it. Staging doesn't cost a fortune, and it can lead to thousands of extra dollars in your bank account. Sound like something you want to try? Check out the information below to see how you can get more than your asking price.

Why Now Is the Time to Stage

In the housing crisis of 2008, many sellers sold their homes for less than they paid because they simply didn't have an expansive buyer pool. The market has been on a decline ever since, but it recently took a turn for the better.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issues a report every quarter detailing changes in the housing price index, courtesy of data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. The fourth quarter 2012 saw a 5.5% price increase from the fourth quarter 2011, which is much higher than the change in prices of all goods and services – only up 1.7%. Simply put, we are finally in a seller's market. You should take advantage of that.

Why Staging Works

If you question the significance of home staging, think about going to a nice hotel room. The linens are all pressed, the pillows are all fluffed, and the furniture is as clean as can be. 14825361_sNow picture walking into the same hotel room a day after a family of four has been sleeping in it. The bed is in shambles, there are toys on the floor and you smell the lovely odor of baby diapers when you walk in the door. Which one would you want to be in?

According to a survey from The International Association of Home Staging Professionals and StagedHomes.com, 95% of staged homes sell within 23 days of being listed. That beats out the average 130 days on the market most homes experience. Staging allows buyers to visualize themselves in a home. The more they can see that, the more likely they are to put in an offer. All it takes is a little time and money to make your home appealing for any buyer. You'll get all of that money back tenfold with the right investments.

Top 10 Home Staging Tips

If we've convinced you to stage your home before your next sale, follow these tips to increase your profits:

1 – Pick the Right Focuses

You can invest thousands upon thousands of dollars into staging, but chances are you won't get that money back. You need to know which staging strategies yield maximum profits. According to HomeGain.com, these tactics yield the highest return on investment:

  • Clean and de-clutter: 872%
  • Lighten and brighten: 572%
  • Landscaped yards: 473%
  • Repair plumbing: 327%
  • Update electrical: 309%

If you stick with those areas for your home staging, you will be able to get the most out of every dollar you spend.

2 – Know What Sells Your Home

Not only do you need to know what staging practices to employ, but you also need to 12621053_sknow which rooms deserve the most attention. Nearly every show on HGTV emphasizes the importance of the kitchen and bathroom. Those are the rooms that people use to judge a home. While every room has its own form of importance, the kitchen and bathroom depict how modern the home is and how well it has been kept. Vicki Macenka of Chesterfield's Interior Transformations also suggests working on the master bedroom and family room. These are the rooms where families spend the most time. Ultimately, they want to feel like their time is going to be enjoyable.

3 – Clean, clean, clean

A dirty home leaves buyers questioning how well you have kept up with repairs and general work that needs to be done. By cleaning up your mess and keeping the clutter to a minimum, you will allow buyers to see your home's true potential. Make sure to focus on the trim around the rooms, as that collects dust that can make an otherwise clean home look dingy. Eliminate any lingering odors in the home and get the carpets professionally cleaned. Then store any toys, clothes, remotes, and other belongings in cabinets and furniture until potential buyers have left the property.

4 – Enhance the Curb Appeal

17848845_m

Your home's exterior sets the tone for any open house you have. It is the first thing that people notice, so you need to make sure you leave a good impression. Some buyers will actually pull away from a property before even stepping foot in it because the yard is in bad shape. You don't want that to happen to you. Nina Evangelista, owner of Staging It, says that basic lawn care and fresh paint "makes the prospective buyer think they really took care of this home in other ways." Spend a day pulling weeds, mowing grass, cutting limbs, and painting the trim on your home so you can wow people from the driveway.

 

5 – Apply New Paint

Paint is fairly inexpensive, and it can dramatically improve the look of your home. If you have personalized colors in each of your rooms, wash them out with something neutral. Realtor Terrie Haynie suggests using "vanilla" as your paint color because it is warm, neutral, and inviting. "Vanilla sells," Haynie says. "You want it to be a little bit of a blank slate that they can envision themselves on." Paint the walls, the molding and any wooden elements that cannot be stained for improvement.

Fun fact: The smell of fresh paint makes buyers assume a home has been recently renovated, making them more likely to purchase it.

6 – Let in the Light

13888940_sLight makes a room feel more spacious. People want to feel like they're getting a lot for their money, so you want your rooms to look as big as possible. Turn on every light in the home and let in as much sunlight as you can. Replace dark drapes with sheer curtains, and change your bulbs to daylight white. You might have to deal with brightness for a few weeks, but that is worth the extra money you can make.

Note that your choice of paint color will also help brighten the room. If you choose something light and still neutral, you will make your space feel much bigger. Leave dark colors for big rooms in your new home, where you can afford to lose a little bit of the space.

7 – De-Personalize the Space

You want other people to picture themselves in your home. They can't do that if it looks too "lived in." It's important to remove as much of your personal property as possible to keep the house looking clutter-free. Therese Kelley of the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors says that sellers need to "allow the buyer to see the house, not the seller's belongings." Take down your family photos, religious artwork, and family-specific décor to give other people a chance to imagine living there. And don't forget to clear the fridge full of memos and coloring book pages!"

8 – Make Necessary Repairs

Even an inexpensive repair can make a buyer walk away from a deal because he or she wants something 11315712_smove-in ready. Sure, you may get an offer with a crooked cabinet door, but chances are it won't be as high as it could have been. Make as many small repairs as you can and hire a professional if you need something significant. If your home desperately needs a new roof, that's something you should probably take care of if you want to sell the home fast. Kimberly Cash of Tidewater Home Staging explained how a potential buyer sees little repairs like this. "The unspoken question is, 'If that's broken, what else haven't they fixed?' " You don't want your buyers to have any lingering questions.

9 – Add Strategic Furniture

If your home is currently empty, add some furniture to each of the rooms. This gives the rooms purpose and it allows buyers to get a better perspective of the space available. Make sure the furniture is proportional to the room and specific to the needs of your target audience. If you don't have any furniture on hand, rent some or hire a staging company to do the work for you. You want to set up your home to look like someone could move in tomorrow.

10 – Learn to Let Go

Above all else, you have to stop seeing this as "your house." 15467436_sIt's not. If you think like a homeowner and not a seller, you're never going to get the max value for your real estate sale. Haynie says "It's not your home anymore. It's your biggest economic asset. You have to do what it takes to get the most money for it." Learn to release your emotional attachment and you're sure to improve your home sales profits.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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