How staging can make buyers feel at home

Staged to sell five bedroom, three bath home in Valencia. Dan Watson/The Signal

By Raychel Stewart

Signal Staff Writer

When it comes to selling a house, simple steps such as adding decorations to a kitchen or repainting cabinets can make all the difference when prospective buyers are looking for their new home.

Staging a home isn’t restricted to only bringing furniture in and out during tours or open houses, it can also include simple remodeling projects or cleaning and decluttering, said Craig Martin, former house flipper and current Realtor for Realty One Group in Santa Clarita.

“Sometimes, when the market is really good, like it is right now for instance, staging a home might not even be necessary,” Martin said. “Homes are going so quick that there isn’t any time, and no reason to spend the extra time and money for staging — but when someone’s selling a house, Realtors can go in and figure out if some type of staging is needed.”

Typically, staging a home is thought of as bringing furniture and appliances into a vacant house to make it look as if it is being lived in, which is practiced sporadically by Realtors.

“Bringing furniture into houses can be a tricky thing,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, real estate agent with Compass. “The furniture you bring in might not fit the same aesthetic as a homebuyer. People are also buying a house, not the furniture in the house. So, deciding to stage a house is a careful decision.”

However, there are other benefits in bringing furniture into a home, said Martin. If a room is built uniquely or isn’t the standard living room or dining room layout, staging those rooms with furniture and appliances gives buyers an idea of how a room can be set up. It also allows for buyers to picture their own properties in the space.

Only living rooms and kitchens are commonly staged, said Martin. “Bedrooms and bathrooms are all pretty standard,” he added. “People just look in and they know where the bed, dresser and other things are going to go.”

Staging can also make a room look bigger if properly sized furniture is placed in the space.

“People might be more apt to buy a house if it’s staged,” Martin said. “Putting nice furniture can make the place look more expensive and bigger, which is appealing to a lot of people.”

A common practice for Realtors is to stage a home for photographs, then either place the photographs on the walls of empty rooms while a tour or open house is happening, or only post the staged photos online.

“Everything is online these days,” said Tracy Hauser, a Realtor and broker-owner for Tracy Hauser and Associates for Compass. “People typically look at the photos online then come to take a tour of an empty house.”

Staging a home can also include decluttering a space so potential buyers can easily picture themselves and their belongings in the home, if rooms are overcrowded with items.

Decluttering homes can easily transform a house into an area that’s “non-personable,” as Martin said. “If you take the items that make a house someone’s home, other people can see themselves living there easier.”

“Realtors are able to go inside a house and know exactly what needs to be done to get that house sold,” Martin said. “So, if a house needs decluttering, it’s not about bringing stuff into the house to make it look good, it’s about taking stuff out.”

Going through each room and taking out things that make countertops or walls look crammed, such as family photos or countertop appliances, is an important step in decluttering a home, said Kauzlarich-Bird.

Simple cleanings can also transform a home. Washing windows can allow more sunlight to come in darker spaces or cleaning the carpet can make houses look newer, she added.

“Something as simple as changing lightbulbs can really transform a place,” said Kauzlarich-Bird. “Whether the light comes from opening blinds or from bringing in extra lamps, it all makes a difference.”

Staging homes can also include small home-improvement projects that will make a place look more contemporary, with the biggest example being oak wood cabinets, Hauser said.

“The trends are really different now,” she added. “Now people prefer hard floors to carpet and white cabinets to wood, so redoing those areas in a house can make it sell a lot quicker.”

As some home improvement projects can become a big expense, Martin recommends giving things, such as dated cabinets, a makeover with a simple paint job.

“Doing those (do-it-yourself) projects can be the biggest way to stage your house,” Martin said. “It’s much less time, money and effort but still gives you the results you want and the results that are going to get your house sold.”

When purchasing a house, Martin said the first thing people think about is the location, then the floorplan, then the amenities included. Proper staging, whether it be bringing furniture in, decluttering rooms or renovating certain aspects, can make all the difference with prospective buyers.

“There’s a house for everyone,” he added. “It’s just a matter of finding it.”

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