In Europe and the US, home “staging” is a tried-and-trusted method of ensuring that a property will sell faster and for a higher price, especially if it is done before the photos of the home go up on the internet.
Indeed, studies have shown that professionally staged homes sell 12% faster, on average, and for between 3% and 10% more than homes that have not been staged, and that is the kind of help most home sellers in SA could do with, especially in the current market where there is so much competition for buyers.
However, not everyone can afford the services of a professional staging company or interior designer, so the practice has been somewhat slow to catch on here, except in the luxury sector. In addition, home sellers in SA tend to stay on their homes while they are being sold and often argue that it would be difficult to carry on their normal lives in a professionally staged and decorated home.
This does not mean, though, that they have to give up completely on trying to increase the buyer appeal of their home, because there are many inexpensive ways to make a difference themselves, starting with a ruthless decluttering in which every single book, toy, vase, ornament, photo, CD, pot, kitchen appliance and piece of clothing that will not be needed for the next two or three months – or perhaps ever again – is packed up and put into storage (not the garage), sold or donated.
Potential buyers want to see clean countertops, desks, tables and dressers. They want a blank canvas on which to visualise their own family’s new life. They should also not see overflowing kitchen, bathroom and bedroom cupboards or they will get the impression that the home does not have enough storage space. And an added benefit of the decluttering exercise is that it will most likely prompt sellers to get rid of a lot of things that they don’t need or want anymore and should therefore not pay to move to their new home.
Other low-cost, DIY staging tips that have been proven to work include:
Furniture removal. Too much furniture in a room will make it look poky, no matter how big it is. A simple solution for sellers is to remove at least one good-sized item of furniture from every room and put that into storage, too, or donate it to a good cause.
Good lighting. Most buyers want a light, bright home so walls should be painted in light neutral colours, curtains or blinds should be airy and opened, and windows and mirrors should be sparkling clean. Replacing dark carpeting and dated light fittings is also a relatively inexpensive “fix” that will make a home look much more modern and spacious.
Deep cleaning. Quite simply, a really clean house gives buyers the impression that it has been well-maintained. However, a one-time, normal cleaning won’t do the trick. Every nook and cranny and corner has to be spotless. Every surface needs to shine and every bathtub, shower and sink needs to stay scrubbed until the home is sold. Have carpets, curtains, beds and couches professionally steam-cleaned too if you can afford it – and benefit when you move them to your new home.
Great first impressions. The outside of the property matters at least as much as the inside, so lawns should be edged and mowed, shrubs should be trimmed and flowerbeds should be weeded. Driveways, walkways and stairs should be scrubbed clean, and the home should preferably be freshly painted in a light neutral colour.