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How home stagers turn deal-breakers into selling points when preparing a property for sale

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Every home owner putting their property on the market wants to achieve the best price, and more often than not it’s about creating an emotional connection between potential buyers and the home.

In the first 20 seconds of walking into a property, a buyer has decided whether or not they can see themselves living there.

It is a hugely emotional decision. Once we fall in love with that perfect house, we’ll do whatever it takes to make it ours. So what problems do home stagers and stylists face when preparing a house for sale?

Some of the biggest challenges have included lack of functionality with floor plans particularly in older homes, creating light in dark spaces, lack of maintenance, furniture that’s not to scale for the space and substantial amounts of wear and tear to a property.

Here’s what home stagers do to overcome these challenges and help boost the sale price of a property.

Awkward floor plans

Inconvenient room layouts can create challenges. Clever layout of furnishings can work but, if required, reconfiguring a floor plan may reap rewards worth many times the spend.

Re-purposing rooms to create a better space is quite an exciting challenge. Where there are dead spaces in a home they can create an additional ‘room’, for example a study nook, or additional living area. I have often seen a higher ROI [return on investment] where this can be achieved.

Getting the layout of the home right is a crucial part of staging. Sometimes all it requires is showing potential buyers what’s possible, as this styled home shows.

Before staging, a space may not look functional. But buyers can now imagine the space as a living area or other possibilities such as a study or gym.

Furniture turned this "dead space" into something more functional.

Incorrectly scaled furniture

There’s a fine line between the perfect-sized sofa and one too big for the space. Having furniture that is too large or small for a room can mean less appealing marketing images and may show a lack of functionality. I liaise with my stylists stylists to ensure that furniture is well balanced and suits the size of the room.

A classic example where the furniture does not compliment the architectural style of the home

To ensure the scale is correct, I may ask my vendor to remove some existing furniture and replace it with something of more appropriate proportions.

It’s also about addressing the target market. A four-bedroom home may sell to a family with children, so I need to ensure that the living and dining spaces cater for up to six people. To make this process easier, my stylists have an inventory of furniture to cater for all shapes and sizes for every environment.

Dark rooms

Dark rooms can be a total turnoff for buyers, but simple techniques can help remedy this issue.

Lighting is critical when transforming dark areas. Choosing the time of day for open houses, use of bright wall colours, selecting suitable window furnishings and ensuring adequate lighting all help brighten dark rooms.

Lighting and light coloured soft furnishings are key to transforming dark areas.

Creating a feeling of space, can often equate to a higher sale price. By removing dark furniture which is sucking the light from a room, removing heavy curtains which don’t affect privacy and add lamps where possible, the whole look and feel can change. Floor lamps are great for living or dining areas and table lamps work well where possible in an office or bedroom.

I love using mirrors to help reflect light around a room, and a light rug can brighten up a space with dark coloured carpet or floorboards.

In bedrooms, replace dark linens with white bright linens. Furniture such as a sofa with legs which is raised off the floor is better than a large, dark, bulky, worn-out sofa that sits right on the floor as it helps light travel throughout a room.

Changing the image of a home

Unappealing houses can remain on the market far too long as many buyers cannot visualise the potential of the house. Styling may help decrease the time the property spends on the market, while it may also result in increased perceived value.

Furnishing a home creates a positive impact on buyer psychology.

A 1970s build can be transformed to appeal to today’s young family purchasers. Typical changes would be to take up the carpet and utilise the usually lovely floorboards underneath, update the wall colours, window furnishings and furniture, updating pool fencing and surfaces, adding maintenance-free landscaping, plus clearing and cleaning.

A contemporary apartment with a mish-mash of different styles and oddly proportioned furniture can wreck its visual appeal as well as lower the tone of the quality and ambiance of the residence. Such a property also just doesn't photograph well which means it looks "average" or even "boring" on the web which results in fewer people attending home opens.

I believe the key is strategic planning. You know the feeling when you walk into a home, restaurant or store that just feels right? This is no accident!

Getting everything right when it comes to design is all in using the right elements together. I aim to create a balance to give spaces a great look and feel.

Will makeovers increase the value of a home or apartment? I won’t recommend any changes that I believe won’t increase the value. I know how it feels paying for it as I’ve done this several times for myself! I’m protective of my clients’ money as if it were my own.

Apartment sellers who take the effort to stage their properties tend to sell quicker and at a higher price

I've seen many apartment sale situations where a makeover defends the value of the property and actually speeds up the sale. Presentation is absolutely critical with apartments and I strongly recommend to sellers to consider the benefits of "standing out from the crowd" by dressing up their property.

Do stylists hide potential problems?

Styling isn’t about deceiving the buyer.

I don’t believe in hiding problems, but removing the barriers and reasons not to buy through clever changes, and ensuring those changes appeal to the right target markets. There are always opportunities in the homes and apartments I see.

Image what this room would be like devoid of furniture.

If an owner is not able to fix any problems, then the agent is made aware to ensure of transparency. But if the budget allows, I usually suggest we undertake the repairs.

A stylist’s job is to show each property to its highest potential, rather than give a false impression of the condition of the property.

Imperfections exposed during an inspection won’t give the buyer a great impression. We may place a piece of artwork over a chip in the wall or a rug over a stain on the carpet, but these are all disguises easily found by the purchaser.

The property may need some TLC, but they will see how great it can also look when furnished well.

I have extensive experience in working with stylists and collaborate closely with them and my sellers to achieve a desired look to maximise interest and the eventual sale price.

If you require advice on how to beautify your home to achieve an exceptional sale call me on 0412 427 877 for a frank, no obligation discussion.


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