By Terry Bell-Aby, Realtor, CNE, Luxury Simplified Real Estate
Are you thinking of putting your house on the market but are daunted by the long to-do list? You may be suffering from what Realtors sometimes refer to as "the HGTV effect." These are some of the symptoms: Do you secretly think you are a long-lost Property Brother? Do you want to marry Chip and Joanna Gaines? Are you still toying with the idea of knocking down that wall? You simply may be overexposed to home improvement psychology and don’t know it. Yes, those projects you see on TV do make a difference - but most homes don’t need a wholesale makeover in order to sell quickly or for top dollar.
I recently sold a home in Hanahan that was on the market for less than a week after not selling with another agent earlier in the year. We did not rip out the kitchen or have the entire interior repainted. We used a much more effective and, more importantly, cost effective technique – staging. My clients were talking about all the things they thought they needed to do before putting it back on the market and I asked them not to spend a dime until my staging expert and I could see the home in person.
We started by walking through the home and making a list of things to edit. I am convinced that the home did not sell the first time because there was too much furniture that had accumulated through the years and too much “stuff” in general. This "visual clutter" can be a detterent in the mind of a buyer - even if they are aware of it or not. We made a list of the furniture to be taken out to show just how spacious the home was. We also itemized the décor items that needed to be packed up before the photographer arrived. We gave the sellers their assignments throughout the inside and outside of the house and then set to work ourselves.
We literally shopped their house. The large vases in the kitchen, with their simple lines and pops of color, replaced the clutter housed in the dining room hutch. All but one of the silk plants were removed and personal collections were packed up for moving. Perhaps the most difficult task was the living room. My clients had recently purchased two large sofas and a large chair that filled the space. They were super comfortable, but the placement was not ideal. We moved them and some other pieces around the room to take advantage of the space. “But you can’t see the tv from the chair over there,” said the wife. I explained that they did not have to live that way, but that it worked better for the photography. Every experienced Realtor® knows that the successful sale of a home starts on the internet, and the most important factor for that medium is high quality, attractive imagery.
My staging expert and I have a lot of experience in knowing what makes for great shots, and oftentimes it’s very minor changes. This home has a pool, which is an area where proper staging can deliver big on style so we moved one of the tables from the screened porch to poolside and asked the homeowner to purchase a colorful plastic pitcher and two beverage glasses, with strict instructions not to spend more than $5. For a mere $4 investment, she got just the right thing to make an inviting shot that helped buyers imagine themselves relaxing by the pool.
The only other expense, was in the master bedroom. The homeowner was waiting to get new bed linens so that they would look great in the new house. With a quick internet search and a short drive to Target we found just the right thing and spent only $70 on new comforter, bedskirt, shams, and pillows! And these new bed linens work well for the new home, too. With "borrowed items" from other areas of the house, we staged this room to reflect the quiet sanctuary this master bedroom really is.
"Sweat equity" was really what this home needed to sell quickly and for full asking price. I prepare a comparable market analysis for your home, hire the staging expert on my nickel, and together we decide what we can do to make your to-do list shorter and less expensive so you can find your next Charleston dream home now.
Note: Minor changes can make a BIG difference in getting your home sold. Staging is just one of many factors, but there is so much that goes into selling a home in Charleston SC. Have a look through our FREE Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home to understand what to expect, how to put your home on the market and attract buyers...
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