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.


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