Sell Your House In A Tough Market: Simple Staging Strategies

Selling a house has become a very challenging undertaking these days. Due to an unsettled economic climate, the task can be daunting to the seller, and may imply taking a significant loss in one’s life savings. We’ve all noticed that economics dramatically influence the real estate market and reduces the circulation of potential buyers.  In addition to these factors, the overall condition of the house is a major determinant in this process.

I just put my house on the market. Fortunately, I had recently invested in costly renovations such as a new roof, new furnace, new shower, and a fresh coat of paint all around the outside of the house and most of the inside. I realize that the “bones” of the house have to be strong or else the potential buyer might quickly run the other way.

I was quickly informed by several real estate experts that the many renovations and updates I had undertaken will not be recovered in the sale of the house. I believe that the housing market will fluctuate in times to come, and which way it will go remains a mystery to most of us. However, the one thing I do have control over in this process, is how my house looks when someone comes to visit it.

I am learning small strategies to stay focused in this volatile process. In my experience so far, the best way to do that is to keep small, low budget projects going in the house, to maintain or improve my home as time goes by. The way I gauge the appeal of my own house is important and so I educate myself by “visiting” other homes for sale on the internet. I ask myself how do I like to feel when I walk into a home that might become mine? I believe that a house which is lovingly cared for will be far more attractive to a buyer – or any guest visiting for that matter. Making the atmosphere and energy of the house welcoming, balanced and harmonious seem essential in making it attractive. Tidiness inside and out, lighting/brightness, recent painting of rooms, fragrance – all of these details tell me how much care and love a person or family has put into their home.

The three adjectives I follow closely are:  neutral – tidy – and clean.

1) A fresh coat of paint in several rooms brightens up and refreshes my house – and it is easy on my  budget.  I keep the colors neutral so that the house will appeal to a broader audience.

2) If you don’t have time to do garden work, hire help for tasks such as weeding, trimming and mowing. This will give your home  “curb appeal” without having to spend a fortune on fancy landscaping.

3) make sure your home is de-cluttered (even if it means getting rid of unnecessary, accumulated things), tidy and clean.

Suggested readings:

How To Sell Your Home In Any Market, by Loren K. Keim

This is an excellent book, very well organized and covers every possible aspects in preparing your house for selling. It addresses issues such as location, staging, pricing, among many other considerations when getting your house ready to sell.  I can barely put it down! I like that the author walks you through each room of the house, making a checklist for the reader. I am following this checklist (de-clutter and repair stage; enlarging stage; deep cleaning stage; neutralizing stage; setting the home apart stage).  I am seeing my house change. Also, she addresses location challenges and helps you either market the property or finding a broker that will optimally represent your property. If you are planning to sell your house, it is a “must read.

How to Sell Your House, Condo, Co-op, Amy Sprecher Bly, Robert W. Bly

Though not recently published, this is an excellent, timeless and complete resource on the topic if selling your house – from setting the right price, to showing your home at its best. The format is different from other books in that it addresses items of your home (eg. floors, walls, windows, door knobs) rather than taking you room by room.

301  Simple ThingsYou Can Do To Sell Your Home NOW, by Teri B. Clark

This books is also a solid reference book to prep your house for the market. What I like most is that the author provides you with real scenarios and cases, to demonstrate what works and what doesn’t. Also, she compares and contrasts situations between an optimal staging and a mediocre one. The tips she provides are economical and practical. Also, the book is supplemented with photographic examples.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home, by Katie Severance and Nancy Gentile

This is a pragmatic and helpful book. There is a section on renovating to save energy, or “going green” with the improvements we undertake. Also, I liked to read the section on “overimproving” one’s home and how not to get caught up in investing too  much in a market that will not bring us the returns we hope for.

For in-depth do-it-yourself projects, please refer to the the following:

Fix It Fast Fix It Right, by Gene & Katie Hamilton

This Old House Kitchens – A Guide To Design And Renovation, by Steve Thomas

The Family Handyman, Magazine

Fine Homebuilding, Magazine

Country Living, Magazine

Old House Journal, Magazine


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