Staging from the Outside In

Staging from the Outside In

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If you are selling or even buying a home, you have heard something about home staging. What is it? This is when a real estate agent or home decorating professional comes in and “stages” your home, putting décor and even furniture in place that accents the good qualities of your home, and gives purchasers a good idea of what the space will look like with their things in it.

Staging is more than just decorating and cleaning. It is about setting a mood that helps the buyer feel at home. You want it to feel like a space that could easily be theirs as soon as they walk in.

This is an important part of selling your home: it is like food packaging or the plating of food in a restaurant. The presentation is as important as the substance of your home itself. What are the elements of staging, and what should you look for?

Start Outside

We have all heard of curb appeal, but it is a vital component to staging your home. The first impression someone has of your home is what they see when they pull up out front.

A nice, well-maintained lawn is essential. One that is free of weeds, green without brown spots, and cut to a reasonable length is a good start. The lawn says a lot about how you care for the rest of your home.

Add potted plants to decks, porches, and flower beds for a variety of color and mood. These are portable, but it shows the buyer what can be done with the outdoor space.

Even though staging is about much more than cleaning, power washing the outside of your home, the sidewalks and driveways can make a huge difference in curb appeal.

Don’t forget the door and the front porch. Fresh paint, new locks and knobs, and even a decorative knocker all make your home feel more welcoming.

Make the Space Feel Larger

How do you do this? Well, even though it may not be the most practical approach, remove non-essential furniture. Take out coffee tables and use love seats instead of couches. This makes the room seem larger than it is.

Wall art and mirrors enhance the feel of space in the room, and make it seem larger. Placing furniture away from the wall also makes the space feel less cramped. Declutter, and put unusual knick-knacks out in odd numbered groups of one, three, or five.

Windows also make any space seem larger. Be sure windows are clean, drapes or blinds are open, and that there is little clutter on window sills.

If you are lucky enough to have bay windows with a window seat, stage this like a reading area. Use the natural light and a few pillows to make it feel warm and welcome. Place classic books or popular modern ones there with bookmarks inside even if you do not typically read there.

The key is that less is more: less furniture, less clutter, fewer decorations, and open space between everything.

Minimize the Flaws

Yes, eventually the buyer will have a home inspection, so covering up major flaws that will show up later is a waste of time. However, a staging professional or your real estate agent can spot things you may have become blind to. Cracks in the plaster on the walls and small scratches on a hardwood floor are common ones.

Well placed wall art, a strategically placed area rug, or other simple solutions can minimize the impact these flaws might have on your buyer’s perception of your home. If asked about something, don’t be dishonest, but it never hurts to minimize the impact flaws may have on the first impression a buyer might have.

Highlight the Positives

Your home may have a number of value adding features that an unfamiliar agent may overlook. You can handle this a couple of different ways. You can do something subtle like putting a colorful magnet on a new refrigerator or a large, colorful pan on a new stovetop.

Alternatively, you can be much less subtle, and just put signs on new things that add value to your home. A simple “Look, new kitchen appliances!” sign as the buyer enters the kitchen is a good way to emphasize the improvements you have done.

Either way, make sure that the agent and buyer see the things that add value and justify the price of your home. At the same time, don’t overdo the signs: let the house speak for itself in some ways.

Staging is something you can certainly work on and pay attention to yourself, but letting your real estate agent help or hiring a professional stager is a much better way to go. However, you should be aware of what they are doing and why, and why staging form the outside in is a great way to showcase your home, increase its value and the appeal it has to potential buyers.

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