Home staging

Contributed by Marie-Armelle Tourniant of About Property Presentation, London

What is Home Staging?

Home staging is simply a marketing technique. It is the term used to describe the practice of preparing and presenting a home prior to a sale so that it will attract a wider buying audience and sell at the highest possible price.

Unlike interior design, home staging is not about expensive refurbishment work. It is about using the furnishings that you have in an appropriate, effective, neutral and pleasant manner. Home staging requires the minimum investment to create the maximum impact.

Property sales statistics clearly show that well presented homes attract more potential buyers, sell faster and earn a better price. Professionally staged homes can sell for up to 10-15% more than the competition. Be ready to invest about 1% to 2% of the value of your property to implement the necessary updates (this depends on the condition of your home, and how much work you are able to do yourself).

The Sellers’ Dilemma and the Buyers’ Priorities

The sellers’ dilemma

Sellers do not view their home in the same way as buyers. A Seller has transformed their property into their home. When a seller is comfortable in the home environment they have created, they assume that prospective buyers will feel the same way as them about their home. In reality, buyers need to be able to instantly imagine themselves and their belongings in a home before they will consider making an offer. However, when viewing a property, many buyers cannot see through the personality that the seller has stamped on the property, to the property itself.

The personal taste and lifestyle of a seller can substantially affect the ‘impression’ created by a property, preventing the viewer from mentally moving in and appreciating the space on offer. Prospective buyers are likely to be distracted by factors that the vendors no longer notice. These factors are often common issues including: Clutter, cleanliness, colour, lighting, style, furniture, and incomplete repairs.

Vendors are often reluctant to invest in the home they are about to leave. However, some simple improvements can make a huge difference to the value of their property.

The buyers’ priorities and senses

Buyers are keen to purchase the best property their budget allows and in line with their personal requirements. Apart from the obvious factors that will influence a buyer’s decision on a property, such as location, price and size, they are looking for a lifestyle. Most buyers are also busy and expect a lot for their budget.

One of the aims of home staging is to reduce the number of reasons a buyer has to negotiate a reduction in price, or decide not to buy.

  1. Over 80% of viewers cannot visualise the potential of a property.
  2. 18% of viewers decide whether they will make an offer the moment they walk through the frontdoor.
  3. Buyers make up their minds (subconsciously) within 60 seconds of entering the house.
  4. Buyers buy with their emotions.

Please Note: Think carefully about your target market

Before you begin your home staging programme and make any improvements, consult your estate agent about the type of buyer your home is likely to attract.

Why use a Professional Home Staging Consultant?

There are many independent companies throughout the UK who specialize in home staging services such as About Property Presentation in London. About Property Presentation offer various levels of services according to the needs and budget of their clients. Home staging businesses can be found in the yellow pages under the home staging section, online on the House Doctor website and also through the website Home Staging Network.

When choosing a home staging specialist (also known as property presentation consultant or property stylist) you may wish to check that they have some interior design qualifications and specific property presentation training. Their portfolio will give you an idea of what they can achieve, and the style and quality of staging they provide. They should clearly explain in their brochure or website the level, type and price of the services they offer. As in all trades, it is also wise to check their terms and conditions before committing. Cost of consultations vary and start from an average of £125 for a 2-hour visit depending on the location and size of the property.

Advantages of hiring professional home staging consultants:

  • They view your property in the same way as prospective buyers, and can quickly identify the issues that may slow down a sale or reduce its price.
  • They are trained to instantly recognise the full potential of your property.
  • They give expert and impartial advice on what can boost the appeal of the house
  • They know the market, what buyers are looking for and the latest interior trends
  • They are trained to use what you have and to shop cost effectively
  • They have established relationships with respected tradesmen and are happy to provide hands-on help.

Top Tips to Prepare your Home

  • Kerb appeal: What can prospective buyers see from the road?

A viewer will get their first impression when they initially glimpse your property from the road outside. Make this a good first impression by ensuring the front garden area is neat and tidy. You may wish to brighten up the outside of your home by adding window boxes, hanging baskets, seasonal plants, and a clean welcoming mat. A freshly painted entrance door with clean and shiny fittings will create a good impression of the rest of your home.

  • De-clutter & de-personalise: show-off the potential of your home, not your belongings

Clutter is distracting and prevents buyers from visualising themselves in your home. It makes the space feel smaller and creates the impression that the house is uncared for. It is necessary to be ruthless. Only keep essential, useful or beautiful items on display. Remove personal photographs, children’s drawings, personal memorabilia, any artwork or items of religious or political nature.

  • Clean up: make your home appear as new as possible

Another simple way of making your home more appealing is to make sure it is clean! Nobody likes other people’s grime. All surfaces that can be seen and/or touched must be spotless. In particular, kitchen and bathrooms must feel “clinically hygienic”. Don’t forget to remove cobwebs and dust from ceilings and lampshades.

  • General maintenance: fix all unfinished DIY jobs

Half finished repairs create the impression that there is a lot of work to be done on the property. If there are problems on the surface that have not been addressed, this could imply that there could potentially be more serious structural problems that have not been addressed either. Be sure to complete all minor repairs such as door hinges and handles, squeaky floorboards, dripping taps. A buyer is very likely to ask you to fix them before committing, or request a discount anyway.

  • Freshen up and neutralise: offer a blank canvas to prospective buyers

Neutral colours sell because they don’t offend anyone’s taste whilst providing a blank canvas for people to imagine their own belongings in your home. This applies to every surface: walls, ceilings, floorings and furnishings. Opt for soft and natural colours that will make the rooms feel brighter and bigger. Freshen up the bathroom and kitchen by re-grouting the tiles, update doors and cupboards with new handles, and create a good impression in the bedrooms with fresh bed linen.

  • Lighting: Whether natural or artificial, make the most of it.

Most buyers react positively to brighter and lighter homes. Light will make your home more welcoming, whilst making it appear bigger. Ensure you have sufficient lighting in all areas. Maximise natural light by ensuring windows are clean and your curtains are fully opened. This is especially important in the two key rooms, the bathroom and kitchen.

  • Subliminal factors: appeal to the buyers’ senses

Buyers are automatically influenced by their senses: sight, sound, touch and smell. Make sure your home appeals to your buyer’s senses by eliminating any unpleasant smells (smoking, pets, cooking). Fresh air, scented flowers, candles or pot pourri will bring a pleasant and natural fragrance. Ensure all rooms have a focal point, are balanced and harmoniously decorated.

  • Prioritise: invest where it will make a difference

The entrance hall is an important room on which to focus your efforts, as it will give any potential buyers the first impression of the interior of your home. Make sure it is welcoming, bright, clean and clutter free. However, the kitchen and bathroom are the most influential rooms by far. It is these rooms that can be responsible for the make or break of a sale. If you have a limited budget, invest in these rooms. The master bedroom can also be a deciding factor for prospective buyers. Finally, don’t forget the garden.

Conclusion

Remember, presenting a home in which you wish to live, and presenting a property in such a way that it will appeal to the widest audience possible are two very different things. A well presented property will also motivate your estate agent. Your Estate Agent is the first person you must impress.

To attract today’s demanding buyers it is vital that your house is presented to its full potential. Home staging helps to beat the competition and make your home sale faster at the best price.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

For more information about home staging, visit www.applondon.co.uk