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Even if you’re not an avid fan of ‘House Doctor’, broadcast on Channel 5, you probably know that home staging can make or break a real estate sale deal. And more often than not, you need to grab the potential buyers’ attention before you even meet them with gorgeous listing photos of a well-styled home. A home that they fall in love with. A home that they can envisage living in.
In other words, property presentation is crucial if you want to sell fast and get a good price.
So, with the kind help of Elaine Penhaul, the founder of Lemon and Lime Interiors and a sought-after home staging consultant and published author in the UK, we are about to share with you a plethora of proven and tested home staging tips. Hopefully, they’ll help you achieve your house selling goals.
In this article, we will:
According to Elaine, planning ahead is what can make all the difference when it comes to impressing your prospective buyers into believing that they have just found their dream home.
“The first two weeks of launching your property on the market are key. If you haven’t got it right, consider it that you’ve lost your chances!” says Elaine.
Home staging is in effect presenting your home in the most favourable way so that it attracts the greatest number of right property hunters quickly and convinces them to pay the highest possible asking price.
And here, we should take on board Elaine Penhaul’s solid advice to take your target market into consideration. Who is your potential buyer? A young family with children? An accomplished professional, engaged solely in their career development? Understanding the needs of your prospective buyers will ultimately affect the home styling and selling process, that’s for sure.
“I always start with finding out what the property owner’s goals are and of course, their budget, in order to sell faster. I quickly assess the situation via a video call or an on-site visit, so we can set out an action plan and get the most out of preparing the property for sale within the seller’s budget.”, Elaine elaborates in her own words.
Does the place simply require a good decluttering, putting excess stuff into storage and a deep clean? Will the home staging process involve some repairs and light decoration work, as well as renting the right furniture pieces? Or is the property in grave need of renovation so that it sells at all?
Often, property sellers wonder about how far they should go when making their home saleable and appealing to buyers. For instance, Elaine Penhaul recounts her success story of increasing the value of a property by 200k after a major renovation has taken place. But of course, there’s never a guarantee that if you invest big in completely refurbishing your home, you’ll sell faster and at a high profit. Or you will do the opposite – lose money in the process.
Well, balance is key and this is where home staging comes important. As it does professional cleaning help and assistance with small repair work. Resorting to expert property styling help, as a minor investment, can ensure that your home is presented in the most marketable and competitive fashion. After all, staged homes sell 3 times faster than those that haven’t undergone a quick makeover.
Let’s look into some general tips on how to stage and present your property to sell faster, instead of ending up being overlooked in the first crucial two weeks. Tell a story that the buyer wants to hear through your well-styled home!
Removing clutter out of sight and parting with unnecessary items for good is your first step in staging your home for sale. Also, invest in a professional deep cleaning service to eliminate every sign of grime and daily use from around the entire house. And when it comes to selling a newly built property, Elaine thoughtfully points out that not spending the time and money on a good after builders cleaning can be a real dealbreaker.
All those cute pics of your kids, photos of your late grandma, fridge magnets “memorabilia” and “divisive”, religious artefacts from your last trip to India have to go. Full stop. Put yourself into your buyers’ shoes! And don’t steal away their mental picture of displaying images of their own personal life in your home.
Going for a neutral colour scheme where needed can do wonders, trust us! So, get rid of any no-longer-fashionable, bright-coloured items, be it the glaring red footstool you love or the Pokemon wall stickers from your kids’ room. A splash of “inoffensive” paint here and there won’t break the bank, either.
Make sure to repair that cracked floor tile or loose skirting board. Also, tired-looking area rugs won’t do you any favours and replacing them is not that expensive. Check every little detail around your house! That broken blind in the living room will look horrendous on a photo that may be included accidentally in your property listing.
Make sure to remove bad odours before your first viewing takes place, as a prospective buyer won’t be impressed with the smell of pet litter. Use the candidate homeowner’s senses to your advantage and ensure that your home smells fresh. You can go a step further and welcome them with the delicate aroma of fresh-ground coffee, baked cinnamon cookies or vanilla, instead of offending their nose with the smell of your last night’s curry feast.
It may sound like a surprise to you, but your potential buyer may be taken aback if they see how you’ve converted the guest room into a private gym. So, take actions and stage the rooms accordingly! As Elaine Penhaul reminds us:
“If someone is after a three-bedroom house, they would expect to see three nicely styled, comfortable bedrooms.”
Now, let’s get to the bottom of what house doctoring is all about and walk through each and every room of your property for sale.
How to dress your house for sale and prepare it to appeal to the right prospective buyers means that you have to give attention to each room. And most importantly, you need to make sure that your home exterior looks its best, too.
Elaine is certain about one thing from her professional property presentation experience. The first impression counts.
“Think about the buyer’s journey. They’ll spot your listing and may well drive by your property to check it out before booking an actual viewing… And good Lord, the gate is hanging off its hinges.”
In other words, don’t skip on improving your property’s curb appeal!
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Again, property buyers will put on their pair of scrutinising glasses the minute they set foot in the hallway. And if they don’t like what they see, this may influence adversely the rest of the viewing process.
The living room is where people relax and entertain themselves and their guests. And this is exactly what you need to show your buyer – a cosy, yet, spacious room, where they can feel comfortable and content.
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The trend of open-plan kitchens is becoming more popular in the UK, replacing the traditional kitchenette and dining room. Elaine Penhaul also confirms:
But even if this is not the case with yours, we are not advising you to invest in anything huge like a kitchen extension or a major refurbishment. Just present your existing one in the best possible light.
The master bedroom is also an important house seller, especially if we are talking about a decent-sized family house. Picture this, people are not just buying a home. They are investing in improving their lifestyle. So, as soon as a prospective buyer enters a said bedroom, they will try to envisage themselves or their kids in there, waking up each morning and settling for the night.
Bring the spa feeling into your bathroom without the need of spending tonnes of money. Again, when it comes to house doctoring this space, cleanliness is what will sell. Scrub away and ensure that all fixtures, fittings, tile and glass surfaces are free of limescale and rust.
Home staging is in a way marketing your house to the right property buyers. It requires a visionary approach and more often than not, professional assistance. So, let’s have a look at some of the pitfalls to avoid when trying to style your home.
Stripping the whole kitchen or building a conservatory will not necessarily prove to be a smart move when trying to sell your home at a profit, or at least not at a loss. So, consider carefully how to work your budget. Fix only what’s broken! As Elaine reminds us, address the little stuff and invest in small repairs and light decoration work. After all, if the home staging process ends up revolving around decluttering, cleaning and adding some finishing touches, then be so! This will still help you prepare your home for sale and attract the right buyers if done professionally and with attention to detail.
Forget about your personal taste in furniture, colour schemes and decor. And stage your home with your prospective target buyers in mind! In other words, staging your house to sell is not the same as designing it to live. So, you better entrust the job to a professional property presentation expert, who knows how to convert rooms back to their original purpose and replace temporarily awkward-looking furnishings, but most importantly, who understands the selling power of focal points and “vignettes”.
When we think decluttering, this doesn’t mean turning your home into a cold, empty-looking, anonymous place, free of any character and appeal. Using a colour palette that falls flat, due to the lack of any contrasting features, will make the house look somewhat unmemorable among numerous others that your buyer has viewed or intends to check out. In addition, don’t ignore the home-staging, furniture-spacing rule of thumb. Key pieces, especially in living and reception rooms, are best placed at a distance of about 4 ft, to avoid ending up with either a cluttered or overly bare feel of the room.
From listing with the wrong people to rushing with the process of taking photos of your home, this will result in gravely missed opportunities to showcase your house with the maximum prospects of selling fast, according to Elaine.
So, don’t rely on your agent to take hurried photos of your place with their smartphone, as Mrs Penhaul strongly recommends. Instead, get a seasoned property photographer, who knows what they’re doing.
Elaine sums it all up:
More and more people in the UK understand the important role of home staging, in order to sell their house swiftly and for a good price. And although property value is often location-sensitive, there’s always a scope for parting with your house at a profit if you don’t rush the preliminary planning process. It’s also best to resort to expert property presentation advice and professional home improvement help.
As mentioned earlier, house doctoring and styling are designed to sell dreams and an enhanced standard of living, rather than to solely aid you in transferring the property ownership fast. Remember that prospective buyers subconsciously “place” themselves in the property during the viewing and begin to visualise images of how they already live in your home.
“Still, sometimes, property presentation is not about selling faster or adding value to your home.”, Elaine’s experience tells us. ”But it’s about getting the sale at all!”
So, consider her wise words and invest in all the right help you can get before putting your house on the market!
Oh, you’ve read our post till the end! Did you find it helpful? Have you ever tried to home stage your property to sell it faster? Let us know how you did or share some tips in the comments below!
Image Source: Shutterstock / sirtravelalot