“Spiff Up Your Standing Inventory: Builders share their strategies for moving houses that need to be sold”
by Pat Curry
Excerpt from BUILDER Magazine:
SET THE STAGE
Many builders have found that staging inventory homes helps buyers visualize living there. Plus, when buyers walk into a furnished room, they’re looking at how the house lives instead of nitpicking where the light fixtures are located. Debra Gould, a home staging trainer known as The Staging Diva, says that builders can achieve the goals of staging without spending a fortune, just by paying attention to some basic principles.
“You could probably do the average three-bedroom home for about $5,000,” she says. “We’re not talking about huge sums of money, if it makes the difference between people walking in and falling in love with it and picking it apart. … It’s all about perception and context. You can buy a cotton T-shirt at WalMart for $5 or a fancy one for $150. They’re similar, but one of them is in a fancy boutique.”
When you’re staging, take a minimalist approach to the amount of furniture you put in the house. You need a focal point in each room, but the idea is to show off the house, not sell knickknacks and linens.
“You don’t need to cram it with as much stuff as someone who is living there,” she says. “You don’t want it to feel vacant, but you don’t need as much seating as you would normally have in a home. … Set up little scenarios where people can see themselves. If you have an empty corner, make it a little reading corner. If there’s an eat-in kitchen, put a table there, but you don’t need to set the table.”
Where you do want to go a bit over the top is the master suite.
“Bedrooms are important,” Gould says. “Dress the bed really well. I hate going to houses that are half a million dollars and the bed has nothing on it. If you go to a bedding store, see how the beds are dressed. That’s what you want.”
The master bath can be warmed up with a stack of nice, fluffy towels. Gould says her idea of staging a bathroom is “what a bathroom in a Four Seasons hotel looks like before you unpack all your junk.” That means it’s sparkling clean with decorative soaps, a shower curtain if it’s not an enclosed stall, art on the walls, and, yes, toilet paper.
In a family neighborhood, make sure one of the bedrooms is staged as a child’s room. “It doesn’t take much to create that ambiance—one twin bed, one table, a lamp, some stuffed animals, and kid bedding,” she says. If you’re selling to young families, show a nursery. “It gets Mom all excited,” Gould says.