Step 4: Stage Your Home
I keep talking about staging, but what does it really mean to stage a home? Staging a home is the process of arranging furniture and decoration in the most attractive way possible.
Staging a home does help to sell more quickly. From the National Association of Realtors, “62% of seller’s agents say home staging decreases the time a home spends on the market.”
Think about walking into the model home of a new home builder. The house has trendy and inviting furniture, is always smells amazing and it has incredible finishes. It just makes you want to live there!
That’s the feeling we want buyers to get when they walk through your home. Keep that as your goal for your home because believe me, if you can create that feeling, you will attract a great buyer. There are a surprising large number of homes on the market that are dingy, need work and have a smelly smell.
If your home looks and feels amazing to buyers, then just start packing now because the offers should start rolling in.
But first… a few tips.
Do You Have to Do Everything the Home Stager Suggests?
Your professional stager will tour your home and will suggest a wide range of things to do from moving furniture and décor to major remodeling projects, but you get to decide what is right for you and your budget.
I once toured a home of my good friends when they were meeting with the home stager, just to experience it like a home seller. After a few short pleasantries, we started touring the home and the stager began making suggestion after suggestion and I could just see the faces of my friends change from pleasant to hostile within minutes.
They were polite but they basically completed none of her suggestions because they were so offended that she came in and insulted their decorating style. I do admit she was a little more blunt than most of the staging professionals I work with, but it is her job to be direct and share her opinions about what will help sell the home faster and for more money.
So, the answer is no, you don’t have to do all the work they suggest but I would encourage you to be open to more of their suggestions than not.
How to Stage a Home
Home staging is not my gift, so I leave that to the professionals. If you haven’t read it already, check out this great article with the best advice from the top 23 professional stagers in Houston to get an idea of what exactly you need to do to get your home ready.
Should You Stage a Vacant Home?
The short answer is YES, and the long answer is yes but only if it works in the budget. To see if it fits your budget, check out this article on how to cost effectively rent furniture for staging your home.
Homes that are occupied sell faster than vacant homes.
The reason this happens is because many people have no imagination as to how a room can be laid out. Giving them an example with your items or with rented furniture will help them see how your house can become their home.
According to NAR’s Profile of Home Staging, Forty-nine percent of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyer’s view of the home.
Taking time to declutter, depersonalize your home and to jazz it up with some elegant staging will help your home pop and thus sell more quickly. Now we will talk about how to show it off with awesome pictures.
Step 5: Take Professional Real Estate Photography
If your agent takes pictures with their phone for the MLS, fire them on the spot.If your agent takes pictures with their phone for the MLS, fire them on the spot. Click To Tweet
No seriously, do it.
According to the National Association of Realtors 2018 Survey of Home Buyers & Sellers 93% of buyers used an online home search website to find their next home and 50% of those found the home they ended up purchased online. The second largest group was their real estate agent at 28%.
Since almost all buyers are online, it makes sense to optimize your home’s online presence. The best way to do that is with amazing pictures.
It’s What Buyers Want
If you have your local MLS app, pull it up on your phone and look at a couple of homes in your price range. Which homes grab your attention first? Right! The ones with the beautiful pictures of course.
The number one thing buyers find helpful when using the internet to find a home are the photos.
So, if that is what buyers want, give them the best photos you can get with a professional HDR photographer.
What You Want in Your Photographer
If your Realtor doesn’t provide a professional HDR photographer, then you need to do some research to find a special photographer. The great thing is that you can compare right over the internet the quality of their photos.
I like to look for a photographer that does HDR (high dynamic range) photography. This is when the camera actually takes thee pictures of the same image at a high, medium and low exposure and compresses them into one picture. It looks phenomenal!
You can see that the picture taken with the phone makes a beautiful kitchen look rather dull. The standard photograph has a wider angle, increased the detail of the image and removed the blur from the light. However, it sill doesn’t quite make the kitchen pop.
The HDR photography looks absolutely amazing. The image is crisp, it’s bright and it does justice to a beautiful kitchen.
How Much Does Good Real Estate Photography Cost?
A great real estate photographer will charge between $150 and $500 depending upon the size of the home and what you are requesting. A twilight shot will be more expensive along with any aerial photography, but each will add a different element to show off your home.
When is the Best Time to Take Real Estate Photography?
I believe the best shots are at twilight, which is right before the sun comes up or right after it goes down. The indirect light makes everything come alive.
To prepare for a twilight photoshoot of your house, turn every light on in the house, open the blinds and the curtains to show your home in its best light. Get your house as clean and tidy as your stager directed and as humanly possible for you and your family.
Make sure to park your cars down the street or in the garage as you are selling your house, not your car. And for heaven’s sake, turn off the T.V. for 10 seconds while the photographer is taking the pictures.
Examples of Twilight Shots
And because I’m all about full disclosure, check out the facebook page of my top Houston Real Estate photographer who provides amazing HDR photography for a great price, and in only 24 hours.
A Word of Warning
Because photoshop and HDR photography are amazing, it can look way better than the actual condition of your house.
We once had a listing that needed a major remodel because it was basically untouched since the 1970’s. Oh, and it needed foundation work, too. My photographer took his twilight shots, photoshopped in a beautiful sky, and did a little touch up on the photos and just made the home look beautiful.
As it was, the home really wasn’t livable in its current condition, so many buyers were frustrated to walk in and find a home completely different than the pictures displayed. It wasn’t our intention to mislead the buyers so we replaced some of the pictures to provide a more accurate portrayal of the home.
The home should be advertised in it’s best light (just like you are in your dating profile picture) but it should not be so ‘doctored’ that people come away angry that the photos misrepresented the home (just like Realtor® glamour shots). 😊
Your house now looks and smells amazing, pretty much like a model home. You have taken great pictures because great pictures can make the difference between a buyer deciding to schedule a tour or not, and the more tours, the better your chances are of getting an offer (or multiple offers). Next, I’ll talk about how to make your home can blow the competition out of the water.
Step 6: Make Your Home Stand Out on the Market
At this point you are very close to being able to list your home on the market and get is sold quickly, but first you need to analyze your competition and see what you can do to help you home stand out even more.
Real Estate is a Competition
In case I haven’t already made it clear, it’s a competition and you are competing for the buyers vote (well, money actually). When selling a home, you can compete on three general categories: price, condition and location.
You can only control over two of those categories: your price and the condition. If the level of upgrades for your home is top shelf, then your price will get a boost over the competition. Similarly, if your home has no updates and needs a ton of repairs, the price will drop accordingly.
Its not rocket science but more homes sit around on the market because homeowners don’t understand this simple principle. Or they do understand it and yet they think their home is nicer than it really is.
Remember When You Bought Your House?
We will get more into price in the next section (step 7) but I want to take you back to when you first purchased your home. I want you to remember why you chose your house over all the other homes on the market.
Awesome! The reason you fell in love with your home will most likely be the same reason the new buyers fall in love with it.The reason you fell in love with your home will most likely be the same reason the new buyers fall in love with it. Click To Tweet
For example, one of my clients bought their home because they loved the backyard. The backyard had a new patio cover, an outdoor water feature and appealing landscaping.
Wouldn’t you know, the buyer that bought the house ended up falling in love with the home. What was the number one factor in their decision? It was the backyard.
So, let your agent know why you decided to buy your current home and what you love most about it (unless it’s a lame story like “there were no other homes left.”) 😊
It will likely help attract the right buyer.
What Makes Your Home Unique?
If all the homes in your neighborhood are in about the same condition, buyers will have a difficult time picking yours over the competition. To sell more quickly, figure out what you have different from your competition.
Maybe you closed off a room to create a private study or added chalk learning wall or installed a wine refrigerator because you love having a glass of wine on the patio and watching the sunset. Buyers not only want a move-in-ready home, they want the lifestyle your home can provide. Sell them on the great lifestyle you enjoy, and buyers will be attracted to it.
Take time to tour some of your competition in the neighborhood. Put on your buyer’s hat and experience the house as a buyer would. Is it in better condition or a better price than your home? Is it a better value?
Buyers won’t be fooled, they know when a home is a great value. Think about how your house can win the hearts and minds of the buyers looking in the area and you will stand out for the better. Next, I will talk about the most important step to selling your home fast.
Next I will cover what is needed to get your home in perfect condition for buyers.