Luxury Home Staging

This luxury home at 17615 Cedar Creek Canyon Drive was completely staged for the seller.  Photos: Lance Selgo/Unique Exposure Photography.

Home staging has been receiving some nice press lately. The New York Times ran two articles in January about the art and necessity of staging to bring top dollar for your property. Do you need to spend $45,000 and replace all of your furniture to get that longed-for list price?

No, not in general but there are instances when it happens. While staging is the norm on the West Coast, and certainly in the luxury market on the East Coast, the rest of the country falls somewhere in between, thinking either staging is a must or that it’s not imperative.  The issue lies largely in the perception of the term. What is staging?

It’s not an easy answer.

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Ugly Kitchen

For staging, some rooms and issues can present more challenges than others. An overpopulated living room, an untidy bedroom, an outdated kitchen, and a bathroom with more rings around it than Saturn can make for a staging nightmare.

Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging has seen all these issues and more. So we asked her “What are some of the biggest problem areas when staging a home for today’s market?”

Here’s her thoughtful answer:

The “problem room” varies from house to house.

The single biggest “issues” for any room are clutter, cleanliness and light. Oh and it is absolutely inexcusable to have anything on your property that needs to be repaired. Do all of the repairs prior to listing.

People in general have a lot of items, I have a lot of items. I’d need the entire Real Estate Staging Association board to help me stage my home if I ever moved! The good news is you are moving, so go ahead and start packing and store the items your stager suggests.  You can bet that will include any sort of collection you have.

Seldom do we keep our homes “white glove” clean. I’m notorious for simply putting 25 watt bulbs in all the light fixtures prior to a party so I don’t have to clean. Try it, it works! Instant mood lighting and no need to clean!
However when it’s the big, bad, broad light of day you have to have a super clean house. It needs to not only BE clean but smell clean.

Light is a huge factor. It really helps sell a home. So open blinds, curtains, shutters and make sure the light bulbs are working in all of your fixtures. One big tip to make sure ceiling can light bulbs are the same depth within each fixture. If you have one low and one high the light distribution will be uneven.

Buyers will make a decision within 15 seconds about purchasing a home. That means your bang for the buck needs to happen in the areas you see from the front door. Walk and count. Everything you see in those first 15 seconds needs to say
“This is the house!”.

Kitchens are generally an issue if they are dated. Wallpaper, odd color cabinets, linoleum flooring and of course bad lighting need to be addressed. Buyers want a great kitchen and great bathrooms. Just look at remodeling statistics and you will see that both of those items bring more ROI than other things you can do to a home. I’m not saying remodel before you sell, just be aware of the facts. People generally spend a lot of time in their kitchens, they are the heart of the home and buyers don’t want to have to move in and do heart surgery!

For instance, no one wants to see a washer and dryer in a kitchen. Remember that great Lake Highlands house Kerry Slaughter listed last year? I suggested they build doors over their washer/ dryer area. The seller did and the house flew off the market.That was before the market was hot. Kerry and I would both say that issue would have been a big barrier to selling the home.

A super quick fix in a typical ranch is to paint the cabinets (Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams is a great choice … yes BLACK), update  cabinet hardware and light fixtures and the entire kitchen will have a new personality! Oh and that lovely decorative edging around ranch house kitchen windows comes right off! Pick a nice wall color like Agreeable Gray or Kilim Beige and make it a kitchen every buyer will love.

A big deal killer is a home without a proper master bathroom. That will absolutely lower your price. If you have a great master buyers will be more forgiving of a second bath that is not updated. White is always right when it comes to fixtures.  Re-glazing is cost effective for tubs and sinks.  Now if you live in an  vintage home known for purple or pink toilets with multicolor wall tile  leave it alone. That is exactly what buyers in that area are looking for!

One of the biggest issues it the “mult-task”room. So often the guest room is also the workout room and the craft room. This is disastrous when you sell. Each room has to have clearly defined purpose. If you have a three bedroom home, one bedroom can certainly be a home office but it cannot also be a gym and an art  studio.  It has to be ONE thing. Do not confuse your potential buyers. They are looking at several homes a day and if you want yours to be THE home, they need to remember it without any possibility  of confusion. If a buyer is trying to recall a home and says “Oh yeah, the cute house with the umm office, no was it a gym or no I think it was a craft room?” That’s a house that will not be first on the list.”