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Wield the Magic of a Well Staged Home

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Staging is an art form: else why would professional firms exist to do it? These are trained people that come to your home, remove all evidence of you and replace it with a pleasing, tasteful facade that transforms your home for sale into an inviting prospect for most any buyer to make his or her own?

Evidence of the power of staging to sell homes? A 2010 SF Gate article from tells us that "an estimate on the value of staging suggests sellers can expect 10%-12% higher offers than without staging." More recent proof? How about 450 Corbett, a 3-bed, 3-bath condo that went on the market in late October of 2012 at $1,025,000. It sold in less than one month for $1,380,000. Of course, we can't give all the credit for such a successful sale to good staging, but clearly, it helped. And, a little inside scoop on the transaction: the original list price agreed on by agent and seller went up after Katrina Schissel, proprietor of SF staging firm Gigi Park, finished staging; in other words, the sellers' team thought the home was worth more when she was done, and entered it on the market at a higher level. And buyers agreed.

450 Corbett, before

Savvy readers will recognize the rehab here is more than just cool furniture and a fresh coat of paint. But the remodeling wasn't of the "big headache" type either. No walls knocked out or $100,000 garage built the week before going to market. A former Realtor, Katrina knows what changes have the most value to buyers. "We focused on big impact changes that actually go a lot further than some might realize," Katrina says. "Paint, new carpet, replaced carpet on main floor with hardwood, light fixtures changed, bath vanity and medicine cabinet changed in one bathroom, tile back splash changed in kitchen and then finally, I staged it." Secrets of staging
You always have the option of trying to self-stage, if a professional stager is out of your budget or if you fancy yourself aesthetically fly. As a person who makes her living staging, Katrina is unlikely to tell us all her secrets, but she does reveal that:
An informed paint color scheme and meticulously chosen light fixtures are the first steps in setting the tone for a well staged home-- considering how the home will be photographed, what the traffic flow will be during an open house, the architectural style, neighborhood and likely buyer also drive design decisions. Once all these concerns are alleviated, selection of furniture, rugs, textiles and artwork bring it all together. A well staged home is inspirational and uplifting. It makes the potential buyer feel as though they have 'arrived' in more ways than one. They have come home. Make your home someone else's home by staging? Here a few tips:
Repairs: these always come up when you get ready to list your house, and accordingly, we'll detail repairs a bit more in future blog posts. But the issue applies to staging as well, because if the problem is cosmetic, it's probably worth fixing so your home shows better. On the other hand, dated linoleum or faded counter-tops might not be a deal breaker to buyers who wants to put their own touches on a place. But certainly, small things like cracked tiles, peeling paint, doors not hanging straight on their hinges—fix them! Buyers see a well-kept home as a sign the property's been maintained in general.

Streamline for more space: An emptier, neutral space looks bigger, and is a much better canvas for buyers to paint their own lives on. You can create that canvas—even if you're still living in the house.
· Get rid of unneeded stuff. What better time than now? You won't have to move it when you sell!
· Put essential everyday items into bins that you can store when showing the house, then easily access when you need them again.
· Rent a storage unit for files, books, spare furniture, seasonal items—anything you need but don't need now.
· Make sure closets and cabinets are neat and mostly empty. Buyers want to see inside of storage options, not admire your taste in sweaters. Also, as a courtesy, don't let cluttered items come tumbling down on prospective buyers' heads when they open the closet. Aim for organization and neatness: clothing buttoned and all facing the same way; cooking items logically arranged and wiped clean.
· If you have something you know you want to take with you, like a Grandma's chandelier (which we've mentioned before) you should pack that away. You don't want buyers seeing it, wanting it, then bailing on the deal because you won't include it.

You might say cleaning the house from top to bottom is just common sense for a seller. But then you remember all the truly dirty, gross houses you've toured as a buyer. People don't always expend the effort they should scrubbing those interior nooks and crannies. You might want to wash windows too, pressure wash walkways and patios, neaten yards if you've got them. After all, the outside of the home is the buyer's first impression thereof: and in real estate-- as in all things-- first impressions matter.
· The Art of Staging [SF Gate]
· Gigi Park [official site]
· All Curbed U coverage [Curbed SF]