Recently, “staging” has become a buzzword among Realtors and real estate investors alike. There are many theories on how to most effectively stage a home, and an Internet search will turn up a slew of articles on the subject, each offering their own perspective on the matter. Unfortunately, there are significant differences between staging an owner-occupied home and staging an investor-owned rehab property, and little has been written about the latter.
This article delves into this rare territory and offers advice on how to maximize your profit potential through effective staging.
Blank Slate vs. Abandoned House
Many Realtors will tell you that having a “blank slate” is ideal when showing a home, and they are right. Things like wild colors, personal decorations, and oversized furniture can make it difficult for potential buyers to see themselves
in the home.
However, there is a difference between a blank slate and an abandoned home. While many in real estate believe an empty house allows buyers to envision their belongings in the space, the fact of the matter is that real estate agents associate a vacant home with desperate sellers. In order to get the best price, you must give the impression that the home has been lived in.
The ideal staging technique is to present a neutral, minimalist setting. Walls should be painted in modest colors, but an all-white approach tends to blur rooms together in the buyer’s minds when they are home later that night discussing the houses they toured. In addition, minimal furniture and decorative touches should be added to your rehabbed property, which of course, begs the question: How can you justify furnishing and decorating a home that you intend to sell as quickly as possible?
Furnishing Tricks of the Trade
For high-end homes, furniture can be rented in order to create the proper impression. Of course, in most cases, this is impractical. Instead, there are numerous ways in which you can “cheat.” For example, an air mattress placed atop four milk crates can look like a real bed, so long as it is adorned with attractive linens. A shoddy dining room table can more than make the grade so long as it is paired with a fine tablecloth. Rummage sale recliners and couches
can be slip-covered and used in the living room to great affect.
When it comes to major furnishings, there is always a conflict between the cost of acquiring and storing the items, and the value that they create in staging your property. If you don’t have ample storage space in your home, then keeping show furniture for re-use may be impractical Another option is to use slightly higher-grade items and offer them with the sale of the house. This can be effective since many rehab buyers are purchasing their first home and may not have all the furniture that they need.
Staging Goes Way Beyond Furniture
Of course, furniture is perhaps the least important element in staging your property. First and foremost, you need to get the exterior in tip-top shape, and this means more than simply maximizing curb appeal. Ideally, you should do your best to clean up the neighborhood!
It depends on the residential area, but most neighbors will be more than amicable to the idea of you cleaning up their lawns, free of charge. In addition, you should tour the block and remove old garage sale posters, pick up trash, and even sweep the curbs. Taking an hour about to improve the surrounding area can do wonders in enhancing buyers’ perception of your property.
Secondly, give your house some character by adding flowerpots, hanging baskets, and improving the general landscaping of your yard. One tip is to use quality plastic plants or silk flowers, which can then be re-used on your next deal.
Another recyclable item is solar-powered lighting for your walk-way. Since many of your showings will be at night when people are out of work, this little touch can really boost buyers’ impressions. This goes for the inside as well – make sure all lights are kept on through a showing, and if key rooms lack overhead lights, be sure to have attractive floor lamps in their place.
Closing the Deal
Inexpensive wall hangings, plants and dried flowers, floor coverings, and various other simple touches really enhance a property’s staging. Using mirrors is also very effective – it makes a space seem larger and it allows potential buyers to literally see themselves in the home!
But sight isn’t the only sense that should be catered to in staging. Always give yourself an extra week to prepare for showing a new house, and hire a professional cleaning crew to come in a do a once-over. Then, leave the windows of the home open during most of the day for several days to air out any mustiness. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and leave it for several days before thoroughly vacuuming. And finally, use natural air fresheners and Glade Plug-Ins to finish things off.
At the wholesale level, staging can mostly be ignored. But the lion’s share of profits in real estate flipping go to the retailer, and that’s why taking these extra steps are so important. Starting with a blank slate, you have every opportunity to make the best possible impression with your rehab property, and in doing so, your hard work will be recouped in an easier, more profitable sale.
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Attorney William ("Bill") Bronchick, host of Legalwiz.com, has authored six best-selling books and is sought nationwide for his 25+ years of real estate and legal knowledge. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as CNBC, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Investor Business Daily, Forbes, and the LA Times, to name a few. William Bronchick is the co-founder and past President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors and the Executive Director and founder of the College of American Real Estate Investors. Click on the "About" link above for more information on William Bronchick.