How important is “staging” a house before it goes on the market? Do potential buyers really need to see an almost-bare house, stripped of all personal items?
I just answered this question for a Quora writer:
First, staging. Absolutely essential to sell for the highest price in the shortest time. There are two ways to stage. 1) Empty the house of everything personal and hire a professional stager to bring everything from furniture to wall hangings and towels – all in the best, coordinated colors for your house. 2) Hire a consultant to show you how to stage your house with (mostly) your own furniture, wall hangings and towels.
The first method presents a challenge for many sellers to live elsewhere. For those who’ve moved out and moved on, no problem. For those who really need to continue to live in the home, big problem. While the cost for this version is typically less than 1% for the stager, there may be other costs for storing or moving seller’s belongings. Regardless, it’s been proven to get the highest price in the shortest time.
The second method’s challenge is finding the person or firm who can do it that way. I am blessed to have such a person available and I pay her fee for my sellers. She will spend 1–2 hours, depending on the size of the home, going through each room with the sellers, identifying what to do with existing furniture (much usually needs to be removed, lowest cost is to the garage if available) and everything else in the room, (e.g.,“put this pillow on that chair, this painting behind that sofa”, etc) and the next day will provide a detailed check list of every single recommendation. It usually runs about three pages. On rare occasions she will rent 3–4 pieces of furniture to “finish” a living, dining or family room.
It is NOT necessary to stage every room (with either method). Living room, dining and kitchen are most important, then family room, master bedroom & bath.
It IS necessary to remove anything personal – family photos are #1, but also certificates, licenses and especially anything that displays an extreme interest (mid-century motorcycles may be your passion, but photos and artifacts of such would be a distraction to a buyer. The goal is to allow a prospective buyer to imagine their own life in your home.
Now for your question about stripping a house bare.
Regardless of which method you choose (or neither) it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to “declutter” the entire house. As I write this in my home office, on the shelf above my desk, there are: modem, router, three lamps, clock, two greeting cards, coffee mug, old nameplate, sleeve of gift golf balls, small seagull carving and large pine cone. Every one of those has use or meaning to me. NONE has use or meaning to a prospective buyer. Were I staging this house, ALL except one desk lamp would be gone. Be brutal when you declutter. If in doubt, take it out.
About the Author
Here’s my answer to that question just asked on Quora
Owning your house is the biggest and best benefit. It means you can paint the bathroom whatever color you want, remodel the kitchen, plant what you want in the yard, and on and on…all for your personal comfort and enjoyment.
If you have a mortgage, the interest you are paying is tax deductible (and for about the first 15 years of a typical 30-year mortgage your payment is more than half interest if you don’t pay taxes and insurance from the same payment. And the property taxes are probably deductible whether you paid with your mortgage payment or separately. No part of rent payments are deductible.
Besides that, owning a home has been a good investment over a long period of time. Yes, there are times when the value of a home may go down, but you only “lose money” if you see during one of those times. In 1950 the median (half were more, half were less) home price in the U.S. was $7,354. By 2000 it was $119,600 and today is $236,400. But be careful here, that 1950 house was less than 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath. Today it’s just short of 2,500 square feet and the majority have at least four bedrooms and three baths.
Nevertheless, buying a home (and living in it) has almost always been a good investment. One way to lose money on a house is to sell it one or two years after you buy it. If you’re likely to live there for at least two years, my advice is rent.
Here’s answer I wrote recently to that question on Quora:
I’d guess flipping shows the greatest short-term potential, but as with most investments return is related to risk, and there is certainly risk in flipping. For example, what if in the remodel process you discover something not in your original estimate? What if the market turns between the time you buy and finish the remodel? What if the adjacent property is bought for something undesirable – pig farm, shopping center, fast-food restaurant, 10-story condo or apartment
Buying something to rent is lower risk but you need to be in it for the long haul. Investors I’ve worked with look at it for a minimum five year project and, depending on cash flow and their financial situation probably longer. The biggest single advantage to buying investment property is in the depreciation, but that’s not of as much value if you don’t have other income on which it can offset your tax bill. Cash flow depends as lot on how tight the rental market is. Portland right now is super-tight, but the City of Portland also prevents no-cause evictions and/or rent increases of more than 10%/yr without paying relocation costs to the tenant which range from $2900 (1-BR or SRO) to $4500 (3-BR or more). This does not apply to Portland area properties outside the Portland city limits
If you’d like the same patient, professional help I’ve given other real estate investors, please contact me.
With mortgages, there is no “one-size fits all”. Mortgages (and the rates) vary according to your personal situation: income, debts, down payment, credit score and so many more items. Your best source for mortgage information is a local, experienced, mortgage broker. If you don’t know one, contact me for an introduction to my preferred lender.
Fannie Mae, which indirectly finances the fast majority of mortgages in the US, recently did a study on the most influential sources of mortgage information. Here’s what they found
This shows we have a lot of smart people in this country. Almost one third relied on a mortgage lender. Slightly fewer named their Realtor. Before I get too flattered with that, a Realtor is not the best source of mortgage information. If you ask me about mortgages I’ll tell you exactly that and introduce you to my preferred lender, who is a mortgage broker. Next most often used, family and friends, may be a good source if they’ve recently financed a home purchase (but the best mortgage for you is almost certainly not the same as the mortgage your family or friend got). The best source remains a mortgage broker. The reason is that mortgages are so varied and complex (and changing) today that you have to be in the business every day to have good, up to date, knowledge of what’s available that best matches for a particular borrower. A mortgage broker has access to dozens of mortgage sources and probably works with 8-10 on a daily basis. They are the best place to find the best mortgage for you.
In the winter issue of Windermere Living, we highlight some of Maui’s top spots and adventures. We also go behind the scenes with celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis, who reveals her top five tips for cooking pasta. And don’t miss the new Destination GPS, which spotlights some of the vibrant communities where Windermere has offices. And of course, the homes. Pages upon pages of beautiful homes in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, California, Hawaii, and Mexico. Click here
Staged homes sell faster and for a higher price. If sellers who list with me prefer, I provide a complimentary staging consultant who will show you how to stage with your own furniture. The four other items in this article are also worth the time & cost. If you’d like to know what your home might sell for, contact me. No obligation, no pressure.
We continue to buy ever larger homes, now average 2700 SqFt (up 1,000 from 1973). 41% of renters wish they’d bought. Full details here.
I just learned of a new down payment match offer from Guild Mortgage, the largest local mortgage lender in the NW. It’s really simple: you put up 1% of the purchase price of a home and Guild makes a grant of 2% so you qualify for a conventional 3% down payment mortgage. Yes, you just tripled your money. You can buy a $350,000 home with only $3,500 of your money down (plus closing costs). You could buy a nice $100,000 condo with $1,000 down. There’s even more good news in the fine print in the detail flyer my preferred lender, Kelly Parkman at Guild, gave me today
And here’s a short video of Kelly himself explaining it. We’ve worked together for five years and I’ve never seen him so excited.
Contact Kelly at 503/528-9800 or KParkman@GuildMortgage.net or contact me and I’ll help, too