Getting Ready To Sell
With the quieter market now at play, it pays for vendors to do all they can to ensure a good sale and that’s where professionally staging a property can pay off, writes SOJO Design’s Natalie Hewitson.
1 October 2019
On paper your property has everything; it’s the perfect size and location for the local target demographic, it’s close to the commuter belt, and has a fab flat section… It should get snapped up, right? In the current housing market, expectations are high. Astute buyers can afford to be a little pickier and are looking for things that really make a place stand out in order to tip the decision scale.
With price generally at the forefront of the decision-making process, it is important that your property doesn’t just show off its great foundations, but also provides a neutral, ready-to-move-in space that flags no immediate emotional or financial objections.
The last thing new homeowners want to have to consider is outlaying further costs to getting the home to a “liveable” standard.
The following tips aim to help you broaden the appeal of your property by neutralizing the space, eliminating possible objections, and showcasing the home to its fullest potential, in order to achieve the highest figure in the shortest selling time.
GETTING RID OF THE FINANCIAL OBJECTIONS
A fresh coat of paint is always number one when it comes to revamping a property – for sale or otherwise. Walls, ceilings, and trims properly patched up and painted with a bright neutral colour, go a long way to refreshing the overall look and feel of a property. The cost to execute versus the benefits on the return are unprecedented and what feels like a fresh new space to the buyers also results in one less objection to purchase.
The same can be said of flooring. If your budget allows for re-carpeting or refinishing of tired wooden floors, then absolutely do so. With carpet and tile, the focus should be on calm, neutral colours that anyone’s furnishing can sit well with (think creams/greys).
Always aim to have some kind of window treatments throughout the home. Even if it’s just simple white Venetian blinds. People want to be able to move straight in without having to pin up sheets at night while they measure and wait for window coverings to arrive. Also not having to account for the additional outlay removes one further objection.
We’ve all heard the saying that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. If these areas are dated or in poor condition, then it will definitely pay to upgrade them prior to the sale as buyers will immediately point out the need for an upgrade as a costly negative.
If your kitchen units are in overall good nick, you may be able to get away with just painting or replacing the doors. Other low-budget ways to facelift a tired kitchen or bathroom are to update the tapware and door handles, add a lick of paint to tiled splashbacks and re-caulk around sinks and benchtops.
DECLUTTER. DE-PERSONALISE. DEEP CLEAN.
First and foremost, begin at the front gate. What does your property say from the outside? Buyers will begin forming an opinion about your property before even stepping foot over the threshold. First impressions count!
• Ensure lawns, hedges and bushes are freshly cut, borders have been weeded and any dead plants are removed or replaced. Add some fresh potted colour by the front door and buy a new doormat to style the entrance and provide a vibrant and friendly welcome.
OPPOSITE PAGE The first step of staging is to declutter and clean from top to toe. THIS PAGE A fluffy rug in the lounge and plump, feather filled cushions with pattern and texture on a sofa or bed help to soften the space.
• Waterblast any decks and driveways and clean the exterior of your house: windows, doors, and joinery included. If the decking is old or damaged, replace any rotten boards and give the area a coat of paint to both protect it and hide the variance between new/old woods. Decluttering your house is not just about putting away objects you don’t want a buyer to see. It is also about revealing the space in your house and how it can be made the most of.
• Consider hiring a storage unit or ask a friend if you can store unnecessary items at their place. Removing excess/bulky furniture will give the illusion of more space and create a good flow throughout your home..
• Less is more. Buyers want to see the space and its potential as well as be able to visualize their furniture in the property. If your furniture is large, consider bringing in a home stager to provide lighter pieces that reveal space.
• Eliminate distraction by packing away family photos and personal items so buyers can imagine themselves in the property.
• Clean EVERYTHING from the floors and skirting boards right up to the ceiling. Hire a carpet cleaner to lift hidden dirt, de-fog the shower glass, and go to town on the grout in bathrooms and kitchens to really make them gleam.
‘Decluttering your house isn’t just about putting away objects you don’t want a buyer to see - it’s also about revealing the space in the house and how it can be made the most of’
• Organise your cupboards and wardrobes. Buyers can be very nosey(!) and the way you are seen to look after the place will be reflected in their opinion of the property as a whole.
• Remember, a clean house also smells nice. Appeal to a buyers’ senses further with fresh flowers, by burning candles or using diffusers. Also, remember to open windows often to bring in the fresh air and neutralize any lingering odours.
BUILD EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT
Do not underestimate the power of professional home staging. It can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your property, helping to neutralize the spaces and assist buyers in visualizing it as their future home. If your property is empty, your furniture old and tired, or if your property was previously tenanted, home staging is a fantastic option.
While the price to stage a property can vary, when it comes to selling your home, staging should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost. It is the most effective way to improve the look and feel of your property without the need for costly renovations. When compared to the other costs associated with selling a home, staging is very reasonable.
Staring at an empty room with four blank walls (as new and pristine as they might be in the case of new-builds or decorated to personal tastes, as in older homes), can make it difficult for buyers to visualize their own belongings in the space… And if buyers can’t picture themselves living there, they aren’t likely to buy it!
RIGHT Create little “vignettes”: groupings of vases or ornaments at varying heights, which help to tie all the furnishings together. LEFT Put away personal items and clutter in the living spaces and insert some greenery to make the space feel more welcoming.
In most selling situations, a space shows better with the furniture as it helps to give perspective and differentiate the space. Without items in a room to help gauge scale, often walls can actually seem closer in - making it hard to tell the room’s true size.
From an investment point of view, selling a home that is empty can give the unwanted perception that buyers can purchase the home for less-than market value, because the seller seems desperate to sell.
Being able to view images of a highly visually appealing home online, before walking around the physical space, helps to build connection and a feeling of familiarity - you have already achieved an emotional connection before the buyer has stepped through the door!
HOW TO STAGE
How a home is staged can be quite different to how it might be lived in. With staging, furniture is placed specifically to highlight selling features (conversational focal points like fireplaces or architectural features like indoor-outdoor flow) and increase the overall feeling of space.
The best example would be of a living room. A lounge will immediately feel small if the back of a couch is the first thing you see when you enter the room as it cuts the space in half.
A good stager will reconfigure the layout of the furnishings to avoid this and/or swap the couch for something with less weight, that can be seen “through”. The seating value of two chairs versus a two-seater sofa is the same, but the visual space gained is greater. Similarly, if that couch sits heavy in the pathway from one room to another, or over a doorway/access point, the space will feel smaller.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
• Soft furnishings go a long way towards making a space feel more inviting. A fluffy rug in the lounge and plump, feather-filled cushions with pattern and texture on a sofa or bed help to soften the space. Iron your bed linen - wrinkles don’t count as texture!
• Art and accessories make a room. Style large hard surfaces (coffee table, dining table, kitchen bench) with groupings of vases in varying heights, low plants, or a statement bowl. These groupings or “vignettes” help to draw the eye to the centre of the room, tying all the other furnishings together. Art hung in key focal points (above a bed or console) adds colour and interest to an otherwise “dead” space.
• Invest in new fresh white towels for the bathroom, and layer them up with a smaller pop of colour or pattern that compliments your tiles. Declutter your vanity put away your toothbrushes and personal items and replace with a scented candle or vase with some greenery to make the space feel more welcoming.
• Stage and style the outdoors too. Depending on the size of the space consider an outdoor lounge suite with a coffee table, an outdoor dining table , and chairs. Don’t forget about outdoor cushions and even an outdoor rug to add some colour and pattern.
• For marketing photographs and open homes, turn on all the lights to create
an atmosphere and make it as light and bright as possible. Ambient lighting makes a room. Replace light bulbs with higher wattage bulbs. Mirrors are another great tool for helping to bounce light around and create a feeling of space. While it may be tempting to stage your property yourself (and many of these things can easily be recreated), we highly recommend bringing in a professional - especially for spatial design and furniture arrangement. You get one shot to sell your property, so you want to get it right! A poorly staged house can look even worse than an un-staged one, while a well-presented home suggests a well-maintained home.