When it comes to selling a house, every viewing counts. According to The Advisory, an independent advice and support resource dedicated to serving UK home sellers, it takes an average of ten viewings to receive an acceptable offer. If you’re going to expedite this process, you’ll want to ensure that your house looks in tip-top condition for every viewing.
Once a viewer has stepped inside your home, it takes them just 40 seconds to decide whether or not they’ll make an offer. That means you need to impress them early; this is where home staging comes into play. Read on for our in-depth guide to staging your house.
What is home staging, and is it worth the effort?
Home staging is more or less what it sounds like: the act of preparing your property for sale, with the ultimate goal of making it as appealing as possible to the highest number of prospective buyers. If a home is well staged, it’ll sell quicker and for more money – or at least, that’s the theory.
But does it actually work? Research from Mattress Online suggests that staged houses sell for at least 17% more than those that haven’t been staged. In the US – where home staging is big business – a study from the National Association of Realtors discovered that two-fifths of sellers’ agents believe staging a house greatly decreases the amount of time it will spend on the market.
Taking a slightly more pessimistic view, the Journal of Housing Research – as close as you’ll come to an impartial voice on the matter – insists that in reality, home staging doesn’t encourage potential buyers to “significantly differ” in their valuations. Despite this, the researchers state: “Staging conditions do influence the [home buying] process, as we find a neutral wall colour and good furnishings do significantly influence a buyer’s perceived liveability and overall opinion of the home.”
So while staging your home won’t guarantee a higher offer, it should give you the best chance of securing a faster sale. Given that you’re unlikely to want your house to remain on the market for months on end, this is a significant benefit. Best of all, despite what the professionals might say, staging needn’t be a time-consuming and expensive proposition – there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself.
Rules for staging a house for sale
Setting out to stage your home is all well and good, but what do buyers actually want to see? The last thing you want is to spend time and money on setting up your property for viewings, only to make it less appealing. With that in mind, we’ve set out our top staging tips – and because we know that not every house sale is the same, we’ve catered to various scenarios.
Staging a house on a budget
Employing the services of a professional home stager could run to hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds. This might be worth it for especially high-value properties, but it’s also perfectly possible to stage your house on a budget. The simplest – and often most effective – way to stage your home is to give everything a thorough clean; aim to make it look as polished as a hotel room, but without removing the personality that makes it a home. Bear in mind that prospective buyers are understandably nosy – if they’re going to make an offer, they won’t want to leave any stone unturned. So take the time to tidy inside cupboards and under sinks. As well as cleaning, touch up superficial imperfections like chipped paintwork and scuff marks on doors and walls.
Staging an empty house
Persuading viewers to make an offer is all about helping them to imagine living in your home. Unsurprisingly, it’s more difficult to achieve this if your house is empty, so it’s worth looking into furniture rental. If your property is in – or near to – a major city, you’ll be able to find plenty of companies that will allow you to rent show home-quality furniture and accessories. Given the cost involved, you’ll want to focus on the most important rooms in the house – in particular, the master bedroom and living room. If your budget stretches far enough, include the dining room as well. You won’t need to deck each room out with furniture – one or two high-quality pieces should be enough to wow the viewers.
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Decorating to sell your home
Unless you’re selling a new-build property, every house – no matter how immaculate – could benefit from a little decorating. But it’s important not to get carried away here. Most people planning to sell a house don’t have the time to spend weeks or months on significant redecoration (especially if they’re still living in the property), so focus instead on creating the best possible first impression. Consider a fresh coat of neutral paint for your walls to create a lighter, airier feel; make minor repairs such as replacing broken door knobs and cracked tiles; and tidy up your garden by cutting back bushes, mowing the lawn and cleaning any outdoor furniture. It’s also worth replacing outdated curtains, as this can be done relatively inexpensively and can make a big difference to the appearance of a room. For more tips on decorating to sell your home, read our in-depth guide “What Adds Most Value to a House”.
How to stage a house for sale while living in it
Ensuring a house is in pristine condition is obviously more challenging if you’re still living in it. Not only do you have to continue with the practicalities of daily life (which inevitably generates untidiness), but it’s also much more difficult to create a neutral aesthetic that will appeal to the greatest majority of potential buyers. To combat this, simply pretend you’re already in the process of moving out and remove as much clutter as you can – professional home stagers generally recommend moving around one-third of your possessions into storage if possible. Once you’ve got your house in a “staged” condition, do your best to keep it that way. Consider cooking with the oven to avoid having to clean the hobs, and get into the habit of giving your shower a quick scrub while you’re using it, so that your property is always ready for the next viewing.
What about the viewing?
Once your house is sufficiently staged, your thoughts will naturally turn to the viewing. To find out more about this, read our guide “How to Conduct the Perfect House Viewing”. However, if we can offer one piece of advice, it’s this: leave viewings to the professionals! After all, we’re here to help, and this is what you’re paying us for. As estate agents, we’re experts at showing your property in the best possible light, fielding questions from potential buyers, and gauging whether or not the viewers are likely to make an offer.