November 3, 2020 • Selling
Staged To Sell: Is your home showing its best self?
By Kate Barker
It’s no surprise that homes need to be staged for sale. With the plethora of popular TV shows that emphasize the importance of staging, the concept has risen to the forefront of people’s minds. To better understand the importance of getting your home ready to sell, we met with Sally Scherer of Enlightened Organizing, an accredited staging specialist right here in Canmore.
“Staging is all about properly preparing a property for sale,” says Scherer, “It’s about engaging all of the senses. It’s not just what you see, but also what you feel.” Scherer says a lot of people think about staging their homes and rush out to the store to buy stuff, but that will ultimately hurt your staging goals. “We all have way too much stuff – that’s just how we live. Rushing out to buy more just adds to the mix,” says Scherer. “The stuff is only a tool to focus attention on different elements of the property itself, like what features it offers. Less is more!”
Scherer highly recommends a consultation before putting your home on the market. This type of meeting will give you “marching orders” to get your house ready, which could save you time and money when it’s time to sell. “How you live in your house and how you prep it for sale are two different things. You want to remove ‘you’ from the equation. You’re emphasizing what exists as potential for lifestyle. You’re selling a dream.”
Scherer approaches staging as a way of “neutralizing objections.” If you anticipate what could throw off a potential buyer, you eliminate it, address it or fix it. This can include minor fixes, such as cleaning windows to emphasize the view, replacing the doorbell that’s been broken for the past 3 years, or changing that light bulb that requires a really long ladder to reach.
It can also mean addressing more serious drawbacks of the home. “If your home doesn’t have mountain views, you augment it with local art and cocoon the space, so it feels like a wonderful home. It becomes less of an issue that your balcony is overlooked by other properties when you have your own little mountain oasis inside,” Scherer says. “It’s about what solutions exist to fix the problem.”
It’s important to remember that your home doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to look its best. “Even if it is an older kitchen,” says Scherer, “it needs to look its best. For example: if the cupboard handles are worn or pockmark, replace those. That’s a simple inexpensive fix that can update the look.” Scherer recommends getting something simple in a brushed nickel or black. Scherer also recommends, “Get all your personal products – all your medications and your supplements and all that kind of stuff – out of sight. And not just out of sight in a cupboard, but in a box in the cupboard. Potential buyers don’t want to know about you, they want to interact with the property.”
In order to make the best impression, Scherer emphasizes what potential buyers generally look at: kitchens, bathrooms, the main bedroom and the front approach to the property. “The approach is very important. Whether it’s the front yard, the porch, the pathway into the property or the hallway to your condo, you don’t want to lose a buyer right away.”
In the mountain market, Scherer also emphasizes garages as a selling feature for many buyers. “If you have a garage or a storage bay or something, make sure that looks good too. If someone’s moving up in the Canmore market, that garage could by why they want to buy your house! They’ve been without for all this time and they can hardly wait to have a garage. A garage that doesn’t look functional isn’t helping with that.” It’s ok to have lifestyle items like bikes and skis in the garage, so long as they’re organized and help to show off the storage capabilities of the space.
The end goal of staging is to have a space where a real estate agent can have an open house and actually sit people down. The world moves fast these days, and decisions on whether or not to buy a home are often made in minutes. “If you see sit marks on your couch, or your dining chairs have been pulled out, that’s excellent! The potential buyer felt comfortable enough to sit down and try the house on for size.” Scherer says, “The process of having your property on the market is painful, especially if you’re living there.” Taking the steps to have your house properly staged will reduce its time on the market, and get you on to your next home.
“If someone comes into your house and says, “Oh my God I love those barstools!” they’re the wrong barstools. They’re not buying barstools. They’re buying the kitchen. Staging needs to be subtle to let the house shine through.”
Top Tips For Staging Your Home
1. Clean! Organize and reduce to let the house itself shine through.
2. Return rooms to their original function. Bedrooms and sleeping capacity are very much a part of the perceived value of a property. Consider changing your office back into the bedroom it was intended to be.
3. Keep your decorations modest. Using décor that’s too modern or edgy might exclude a potential buyer who sees the place and thinks, “This just isn’t for me.”
4. Bring your pets with you when you leave for a showing. Most homes in Canmore have a pet, but you don’t want to detract potential buyers who may have allergies or fears.
5. Buy new towels. Choose crisp white, beige or something that works with the colours in the room. Wash them a couple of times but don’t use them. Set them out for showings. Towels are a cheap investment and you can always use them in your new house.
6. Take a picture. A camera is less forgiving than the human eye. The human eye can make sense of everything once you’re in the room, but if you take a picture of a space and revisit the photo, you might see distracting things that you didn’t notice before.
7. Tell your neighbours. They may know somebody who’s interested, and they might have a friendly word to say if a potential buyer stops by.
Special thanks to Sally Scherer for teaching us about home staging. If you’d like to learn more, contact Enlightened Organizing, 403-688-8820.