You’ve decided it’s time to sell your house. Now what?

You’ve watched House Hunters, Flip or Flop and the Property Brothers on HGTV. Looks easy enough, right? What’s the first piece of advice you’ve heard? Oh yeah – declutter. Get rid of things. Clean, clean clean. Sellers market – no problem – done deal. Let’s call the real estate agent and get this house sold!

This is so often the case: Lovely homes that have so much potential but only one in ten will see. Just like you, so many buyers watched HGTV too. They want to walk into that ‘model’ type of home, fall in love and imagine living there for years.

As a home stager, I see so many sellers think all they need to do is clean and declutter. These houses often languish on the market with one price reduction after another. Why do some houses sell quickly and have bidding wars and others just seem to sit for months on end?

There are four factors that affect the sale of a house:

1. Location: We’ve all heard it location, location, location- the first rule of real estate.

2. Condition: According to a report I was recently reviewing, condition is becoming more and more important. Buyers are put into three categories. The first group want move-in-ready. These buyers want to move in without having to do any work for months or years. The second group doesn’t mind having to fix a few things. What is most interesting is the number of buyers in this group is getting smaller and smaller. Therefore, the old idea, “Leave it, the buyer will just change it to what they want anyway,” no longer holds true. The third type of buyer are the flippers. They want to buy distressed properties to flip and sell. Therefore, the longer a house stays on the market, the more likely a flipper will snatch up the house at a reduced price.

3. Price: A good real estate agent will do a price analysis and list it competitively. Pricing too high may eliminate potential buyers. This could cause the property to linger and lead to price adjustment to reflect the real value.

4. Lack of staging or poor staging: I have seen many individuals believe staging is simply putting furniture in a room. Sometimes the scale is off, sometimes there is too much stuff. Or then there’s the idea that placing a lamp in the corner or a card table with a table cloth and place settings is considered staging. Staging, when done well, will evoke emotion and lead a buyer to say, “I want to live here.”

The majority of buyers look online when they start their house hunting. Therefore, for your listing to stand out, professional photographs are a must. Have you ever seen a listing photo of a bathroom where the toilet lid is up? How does it make you feel? Or how about an empty room? Do you wonder what the purpose of the room is? A recent statistic claims that 76% of houses that are relisted are left vacant. Most buyers cannot visualize a vacant house with their furniture in it or how to use the room. Furthermore, a vacant house will show any flaws. There is a chip in the paint on the woodwork, the carpet looks worn, the light fixture in the dining room is dated, etc.

Let’s say your photos entice a buyer to take a look. Once they walk through the door you have just up to fifteen seconds for this buyer to fall in love with your home. If they love it, they will overlook less than perfect. If they don’t, the list of objections begins to grow. This is where staging can help.

Staging evokes emotion. Stagers will look at demographics and trends and stage accordingly. The National Association of Realtors says that for every dollar you put into getting your property ready for sale your return is four to six dollars. On the flip side a broker told me for every repair or update needed a buyer will value it at three times the cost. A survey of over 4270 homes by HSR (Home Staging Resource) trained stagers found that 85% of staged homes sold at least 6-25% more than their unstaged neighbors property. Therefore, sellers need to understand that investing in staging and necessary repairs is not an expense but an investment that pays great returns.

Deborah Barone is a certified stager with a certification from CSP. She is a member of RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) and a Resa-pro, which means she passed an extensive ethics exam. In 2017, Deborah formed a local chapter of RESA, RESA Metro Detroit Chapter. She was the orginal founder and first president. In 2018, Deborah was voted one if the top 100 most influential stagers through the RESA organization. You can keep up with all that Deborah is doing at: www.stagingdesignsbydeborah.com.