Staging A Home: Should You Do It?
By Stefan Walther | January 1, 2023
The idea behind ThunderBayHouses.com is quite simple, and has always been: to showcase a home in the best possible way and to the largest buyer audience, to help the owner sell quickly and for the best price and top offer. And so we also apply this concept to presenting the home, especially in our fantastic, high-quality photos, but as well for when the seller shows the home in-person to prospective buyers.
So, in other words, no, we don’t suggest or recommend staging a home or going to some extreme lengths and expense to get a home ready for the market, but there are a few things to keep in mind, some small things that can be done to good effect. Read on.
ThunderBayHouses.com wants to make its excellent service accessible and very easy for any seller to use, which is also why our listing fee is quite low. We want potential sellers to be able to call or E-mail and to set up an appointment with one of our photographers, to quickly get the property listed and get it sold fast. This means that a seller should not have to go overboard, spend a lot of time and energy getting the home presentable and “market ready.”
Two things we do recommend: neutralize and declutter. And these somewhat go hand in hand.
But before we expand on these, it is important to note that ThunderBayHouses.com’s photographers will always make some quick recommendations to the seller, or even move or adjust things on their own, in order to capture the best photos. Our photographers are trained and follow the guideline that “no area of a home is ever ready for a photo,” so always check to see where something can be moved, something adjusted, to make the home’s features present their very best to a prospective buyer.
When our photographer first arrives to the home, they will ask you to turn on all interior lights and open all window coverings so we have the absolute best lighting. This is also why we schedule most appointments around midday, when the sun is nice and high in the sky. We use high-end Sony digital cameras, and we do not use a flash so as to avoid unbalanced lighting and bright reflections.
Our photographer will close interior doors and, if necessary, windows so that buyers can better visualize living spaces distinctly, more accurately, and separate from other living spaces or even outdoor elements. When we take outside photos, we will make sure exterior doors are closed, windows are closed to appear neater, fence gates are closed, we will ask for vehicles to be moved out of the driveway and away from any garage.
Again, we try to make things as simple as possible for the seller.
So to neutralize, we mean to remove any personal items, including photos of family and friends. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves and their family living in the home, this makes the home more attractive to them and makes them want to buy it. This is made harder when there are personal items or décor that is very particular to another person’s tastes.
So while we all love nana and nono, tuck away the 17 photos of them for presenting the home to prospective buyers. You can bring them back out later, or back out in your next home. The large-scale model of a 1965 Ford Mustang displayed on the fireplace mantel, hide it for now. The basket of wine corks, get rid of it. While someone may be proud of the poor fish or deer they captured, take down the mounted trout and antler rack. The funky novelty gift, the singing, dancing fuzzy polar bear that your crazy friend Herbert got you for your birthday? Well, check to see when is the next garbage day.
It is also best to move Fluffy and Fido’s food dishes out of the way. While all of us here at ThunderBayHouses.com have and love our kitties and dogs, some people do not like pets and some are allergic, so it would be a big turn-off for these buyers to see food dishes, or worse a litter box, in any photo of a home they may wish to buy and live in.
But, again, don’t worry if you miss these, our photographer would scan every area of a home before snapping the best photos, so would see any pet paraphernalia and either suggest it be moved, or will move it themselves.
You may find that closets become stuffed full with all your stuff, which is fine especially when one of our photographers takes photos (as we do not show the inside of closets unless it is a presentable and feature-worthy walk-in closet). But make sure the closets are fairly neat and tidy for when buyers come in-person to view, as they will open and close closet doors. It would be a big turn-off to become buried in a big avalanche of stuff, especially if it includes Herbert’s tacky polar bear.
An option may be to move a lot of this stuff to a basement storage room. This is also usually an area that ThunderBayHouses.com does not photograph.
Some children’s bedrooms have the boy or girl’s name displayed in large letters on the wall or above the bed. While it would be best to remove this, it is not crucial and would be removed best for privacy (not showing the child’s name to the world on the Internet). A bedroom, especially a child’s bedroom, is considered a “secondary” living space, and not as important to buyers as “primary” living space such as the living room, dining room, kitchen or even the primary (home owner’s) bedroom.
On to our second recommendation, decluttering, which as you probably realize by now, goes together with neutralizing. After removing and hiding away personal items, you would have already gone a long way to declutter.
It’s easy to see where one can declutter. Simply look around any room in your home. Remove just about everything from any counter or surface. The kitchen should have, maybe, just a few items on the counter: a coffeemaker, toaster oven, utensil holder, maybe a knife block. But if these are older and not attractive, remove them as well. Clear off the fridge of all magnets, all children’s drawings, the whole year’s garbage-collection schedule. A nightstand should have only one item, a lamp, maybe two and include a clock. Get rid of the tissue box and books and magazines, tuck them away. Clear off areas in the bathroom, unplug the electric toothbrush, collect the shampoo bottles, stuff them in a cabinet. Again, our photographer would look for some of this and advise.
If a home seller would like to go to some extra effort, we recommend some bright and colourful fresh-cut flowers in a nice vase or two, maybe an orchid (even the fake ones sometimes look beautiful). Simply pop into a florist, or even a grocery store, and pick up a bouquet or two. For when our photographer is there, you can even move them around a bit from room to room, liven up a few different rooms. They will also add ambiance and colour when buyers come for an in-person viewing.
Another exercise we recommend for getting a home ready to photograph and ready to sell, is to visualize the other items in the home — so not the personal items and not the clutter — in different spots. Our homes are set up for our own comfort, but try to visualize an accent table as looking nicer in a bedroom rather than the living room, maybe move a Tiffany lamp from a bedroom into the living room, move the furniture around the living room to open up the space (maybe a couch is currently set up better for watching the TV but it would look better across the room).
For some reason, pillows and blankets seem to be all the rage for home staging. We’ve seen some professional home stagers add 15-plus pillows, some quite large and oversized, to an average-size home’s few beds and couches. So why not take a tip from them, hit up your favourite homeware and décor store, and buy a bunch. If nothing else, all these pillows and blankets will make your furniture more comfortable. Maybe select a couple special patterned small pillows for accents, drape a contrasting fleece blanket at the bottom of a couch, get creative.
While we here at ThunderBayHouses.com are not too keen on staging, particularly paying for professional staging that could prove quite expensive, our view would differ for a high-end, high-price luxury home, especially if this particular home may be empty and void of furniture and décor, or perhaps just need a few extra attractive pieces to fill the spaces.
It’s important to look at the possible cost-benefit ratio. If a seller can put a few thousand dollars into their home, make it more attractive and desirable to more buyers, in order to bring in a higher offer, or multiple offers, that is tens of thousands of dollars more, then perhaps it is worth it.
Got a question or comment? Reach out to us anytime. Send us an E-mail at info@ThunderBayHouses.com.
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