Preparing to Sell or Let Your Home: Home Staging, Dressing and Styling
19th December 2017
It goes without saying that you only have one chance to make a great first impression, it’s sort of self-explanatory in the name. Therefore, we’ve taken the opportunity to write an article about Home Staging and Dressing Your Home for viewings. This article will be fantastic for anybody looking to sell their home, make their property look more attractive and create a better impression overall to visitors.
We’re faced with making a good first impression on a regular basis; when we’re networking, going to a job interview, attending a meeting with our managers, clubbing on a Friday night or meeting our significant other’s parents, the list is endless. You will dress well, put on some perfume or aftershave and try to put your best foot forward; your home should be no different and for most, it isn’t. When we invite the in laws to Christmas dinner, we spend an amount of time cleaning, tidying away the clutter and even polishing the surfaces and likewise, the same should be true when we sell or rent out our home or invite people round to our residence or place of business and indeed it is.
But what is home staging/dressing? Simply put, it’s making your property as appealing as possible to buyers, tenants or visitors in general. When you dress a home well, you can increase the achievable value of the property itself so a bit of investment in décor and furnishings can really make the difference. Home staging is really no different from companies advertising their brand on billboards or television.
What’s the point if you’re just going to sell though? Other than being able to achieve a higher price for your property, it can also increase the likelihood of sale; a set table, lights on with warm-glow bulbs and cushions on a sofa can really help a potential buyer imagine themselves at home in your property.
When developers open Show Homes, they will always use this technique so why shouldn’t you? Does it cost too much? Really? Imagine your potential buyers want to negotiate on the price; investing just £2000 in dressing the home can be enough to really give you the edge because it will almost certainly increase the number of potential buyers and the more people who want to buy your property, the less likely it is you will have to negotiate a lower price and sometimes, you’ll find buyers will offer you a higher price if they know or believe there are many people interested in buying the property. You can, of course, keep the purchases unless the buyer insists on keeping them, in which case, let them. After all, they were the difference between selling for the full value or selling for £10’000 less because nobody else showed interest.
In the UK, home staging really isn’t as common as you’d think amongst homeowners, sellers and landlords. Even small business owners shouldn’t neglect home staging if they meet customers in their home office or even if you’re a manager or CEO of a larger company and your customers just happen to know where you live; your home says a lot about you as a person and it can even affect the value of the property itself. In other countries, like Australia and the USA, it is a really popular practice; its often seen as part of the glitz and the glam of the industry in their country. Realtors in these countries wouldn’t be out of place on celebrity reality TV programs but do we not have the same in this country? Do you think homes that appear on Homes Under the Hammer and Phil Spencer: Secret Agent haven’t had an interior designer accentuate the finer details of the property? Of course they have. Even programs that feature derelict or really run down homes on TV have had a bit of that showbiz magic to make their features really stand out.
When it comes to staging your home, “The first thing to remember is that the way you sell your home is very different from the way you live in your home,” says Lucy Joerin, managing director of a property consultancy firm, “When you decide to sell your home, it’s important that you change your mind-set and start thinking about the property as a financial asset – a commodity you’re going to sell to help you realise your dream of living in a new home.”
What is important, however, is to consider who is likely to purchase your property; if it is going to be an older couple whose children have flown the nest, perhaps they’re downsizing, they might not be interested in ultra-modern furnishings whereas a professional single person may well be.
Likewise, although initially you’re staging the property for the purposes of advertising the property and increasing the general appeal to passing potential buyers or tenants, the same will be true of those visiting and viewing the property so alongside the overall aesthetic appeal (how appealing the property looks), it is important to consider how the property smells. Do you have pets? Do you smoke? Do you drink a lot of beer or regularly cook spiced foods? All of these things can cause lingering smells which we don’t even realise because we’re accustomed to them. I personally have the pleasure of living with four cats and a dog and my property smells fine but many of my guests who do not own pets disagree. Likewise, when my non-smoker grandparents would visit my parents’ (who smoked) home, you would visibly see their noses wrinkle and twitch as they were hit suddenly by the smell of tar and cigarette smoke as they walked through the door… In these circumstances, it is important to keep air deodorisers to hand, Oust is fantastic and for cat’s litter trays, you should make sure they’re changed before anybody comes to view the property and use scented pellets (we’d advise putting the litter tray outside or out of sight completely and where possible, leaving your pets with a neighbour or friend whilst you have people visiting your property, especially in case they’re not keen on animals) to combat the bad smells. Smokers should smoke outside from the moment you decide to sell or rent out the property or at least for 12 weeks prior to the property going on the market, if smokers do smoke outside, make sure to clear away ashtrays and cigarette ends. In fact, just encourage your guests to not smoke at all on your property for the time being and if you’re a smoker, consider quitting; it’ll do you good. The above points aren’t as important if you’re letting to smokers or pet owners respectively.
You should keep shoes clear of the hallways; shoes can be a real turn off to potential buyers or tenants, feet in general are one of the least favourite body parts of many. Also, it is important to keep footwear free from your photographs, you know the saying “You smell with your eyes”, it’s true. You can always imagine what bathroom would smell like if you seen a photo of an unflushed toilet (another key point, make sure you’ve flushed your toilet, I’ve met many individuals who go by the proverb “If it’s yellow let it mellow”) and the same goes for a hallway with 20 different pairs of shoes shoved into a rack against the wall.
You should replace any dead or dim lightbulbs, preferably for warm, orange bulbs (make sure there’s a few quid on the meter to make sure the lights are on when you conduct viewings, even in the day time).
Cover stained carpets with a rug or have them cleaned. The last thing somebody wants to see when considering purchasing your home is a stained carpet; they may intent to redecorate as many buyers do when they move in but just in case they change their mind or are buying the property with the intention of letting it out and therefore are looking for a neutrally decorated property, a stain on the carpet can really ruin the image. Also, remove any dead plants or remove dying heads off of your house plants to increase the aesthetic appeal.
Deal with damp and mould before you take any photographs. Damp and mould is one of those things that people know will just get worse if left untreated. Many times, infrared heaters (or regular heaters) can dry out damp and domestic bleach will destroy and remove the mould however, it may come back or otherwise be too stubborn, in which case investing in specialist help may be the best option.
We really hope you've got a better insight as to whether or not to dress your home when you come to sell or let. Should you decide to let, be sure to check out our 30 Point Checklist for Landlords which is free for you to download and print off to ensure you're putting your best foot forward when letting out your property, especially if you're a first-time landlord!