Home SellingPortland Real Estate August 4, 2018

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


Home InspectionHome SellingPortland Real Estate October 19, 2017

Five Tips to Prepare Your House to Sell Faster for More

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.  



Home BuyingHome MortgageHome SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics July 19, 2017

Home owners #1 complaint – should have bought bigger home

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.

Home BuyingHome SellingPortland Real Estate May 19, 2017

So you want to downsize?

If you’re like me and my wife, you have a lot of “stuff” (for lack of a more pleasing word) that will simply not fit in a downsized home.  I frequently help  buyers who want a garage only to store “stuff”.   The time-tested method is, of course a “garage sale”.  But they are subject to the whims of the weather (if it rains the day(s) of your garage sale, you won’t sell much) and while summer in Portland is usually dependable for decent garage sale weather, the other three seasons are a gamble. And if you don’t have a yard or driveway?

Second place is certainly Craigslist.org but I also found an article click here that lists several competing apps as methods to sell that unwanted “stuff”.  Enjoy, and call me when you’re ready for the downsized home or if you’d just like an idea of what your present home would sell for.


Home BuyingHome SellingPortland Real EstateUncategorized April 16, 2017

Nine Ways to Make Your House More Photogenic

Nine good points, from today’s NY Times.  In my 14 years experience staging has two advantages for the seller: 1) higher sale price and 2) quicker sale.  Many times staging can be done with the seller’s own furniture, as with this condo I recently listed which sold for 13% over list in a week.


Home BuyingHome SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics March 30, 2017

Portland in Top Ten “Next Tech Havens”

This may not be a surprise to a lot of Portlanders, but our city has been included in a list of the top ten “next tech havens

So you ask, “What does that have to do with real estate?”

With new jobs comes new population – people who don’t live here today.  And those people buy things – groceries, cars, insurance, medical, accounting AND homes.  Some will rent, of course, but the gap between the cost of renting and buying in Portland has grown pretty wide, so most will buy a home. 

That adds to the number of home buyers, which already far outstrips the number of homes for sale, and keeps the  upward pressure on home prices. Last month I listed a very nice condo in Tigard and had ten offers (all over list) in the first week.  Maybe not ten, but for nice homes, multiple offers is the rule. 

If you’re one of the nine buyers who didn’t get this one, that’s hard and I feel for you. 

Of course none of us wants to live where jobs are disappearing (and home prices are going down).  If you’re a buyer and your first thought is “Yes I would.”, while that does put you in an easier buying position, you wind up buying a major asset that’s worth less tomorrow than today.  I’ve been in real estate in that kind of market and it’s not easy for buyers, sellers, or Realtors.   

Today’s market in Portland is difficult but not impossible for buyers, and at least you’re buying a major asset that’s likely to be worth more tomorrow than today. 

Home BuyingHome SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics February 24, 2017

One More Reason Home Prices Continue their Rise

The Oregon Association of Realtors reports:

A 2016 study from Josh Lehner (Oregon Office of Economic Analysis) illustrates Oregon is currently underbuilt by 24,000 units. In other words, we need to build 24,000 units just to equalize the supply/demand curve. Until we reach a period of hypersupply, Oregonians will continue to feel the pinch of the real estate supply/demand curve https://www.oregon.gov/das/OEA/Pages/forecastecorev.aspx
Home SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics August 21, 2016

Financially, Which Remodels are Best?

Not necessarily the best for quick return (important if you're selling in the next year or so), but the best value in the long term.  HouseLogic's "8 Most Financially Savvy Home Improvements are here


Home SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics August 15, 2016

Even a “minor” kitchen remodel is Portland is $20,000, so….

the question is how to do it so the value holds up for the long run.  


Here's HouseLogic's list of the seven "Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You'll never regret"

The $20,000 figure is from the 2016 "Cost vs. Value" report* that shows costs in Portland for 27 popular remodels .  It's for a "minor" kitchen remodel, (a "major" is $61,927 and an "upscale" $122,359).  It also estimates how much each project will return in short-term sale price. The "minor" kitchen remodel will increase your short term sale price by $23,197 – 11% over your cost, so a pretty good investment.  The "major" adds $48,371 and the "upscale" $87,667, but neither returns more than their cost.  Still, if you're going to live in the house for many years, there's no dollar value on the enjoyment you'll get from the new kitchen.  The report has figures on 26 other remodels.  Want a copy?  Let me know and it's on its way.  

Home BuyingHome SellingPortland Real EstatePortland Real Estate Statistics August 11, 2016

Is this neighborhood noisy?

If prospective buyers could spend a week in a house they're thinking about buying, it would give them a good feel for the neighborhood, including how noisy (or quiet).  Now there's a tool that can help with that. Enter the address at HowLoud and you'll get a SoundScore – a 50 to 100 rating (higher is quieter) on the ambient noise level.  While it won't tell you about the neighbor who leaves for work at 5:00 AM on his Harley, it will give you a look into noise produced by trains, airplanes, traffic, commercial sites and the like.  If this "takes off" it will become similar to a WalkScore as one independent tool to evaluate a neighborhood.