• The Importance of a First Impression


    by Carrie Benuska

    I am a firm believer that wisely preparing a home for sale is a vital step in the sales process.  Buyers are greatly influenced by the ambiance of a home and are often affected by the owner’s furnishings and decorations.  In addition, clutter and extraneous household items can be a distraction to viewers, hindering them from perceiving the overall space.  Even though much of preparing a home for sale is superficial, these details make a big difference when showing the house.

    The common term for this process is “Home Staging.”  According to Wikipedia, “Home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money. Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want.”
    There are professional home staging companies which maintain a large inventory of furniture and decorative items.  They are hired, often by the seller, to come in and give the house a makeover.  Depending on the condition of the home and how much the seller is willing to invest, the scope of services could vary dramatically.  Ironically, much of home staging involves taking things away from the house rather than adding new items.
    There are homes for sale that are empty of all furniture or decorative elements. Devoid of anything to soften and define the space, there is a risk that buyers will not write an offer, because they can’t visualize the potential of the property or imagine how they would utilize each room.  A home stager would likely choose to spotlight a few rooms by bringing in furniture, art, and accessories.  This would probably include the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, and master bath.  Because of the high price of furniture rental and movers, this scenario can be expensive but can dramatically swing buyer interest.
    Many homes are well maintained, have some nice furniture and accessories, but are over-cluttered and have a few dated items that detract from the overall look of the house.  A home stager can help the owner sort through their possessions, packing up unnecessary items and rearranging the pieces that best spotlight the space.  If the living room couch is falling apart or is upholstered in a dated avocado green and orange print, they can bring in a neutral couch and some fun pillows.  After re-accessorizing the bookshelves, getting rid of the large bins full of children’s toys, and relocating a console from the dining room, the living room could be completely transformed.
    Although I rarely advise my clients to fully remodel their kitchen or baths before putting their house on the market, there are certainly some repairs/improvements that are wise to tackle before introducing the property to potential buyers.  Walls or trim that are in poor condition, carpet that is badly stained, or items that are clearly broken do not create a positive impression.  Even if the home is overwhelming good, the presence of obvious defects will focus all of the attention on the problems, even if you disclose them up front.
    Each home and seller are unique, so there is no cookie-cutter approach to preparing a home for sale.  The goal is to spend as little money necessary to achieve the biggest bang for the buck.  There is no sense fixing something that is not broken, so it is important to get advice from someone who knows what they are doing.  You should ask any listing agent you consider hiring about their philosophies and procedures for preparing a home for sale.
    Don’t wait to discover that home staging would have made a huge difference in your home sale.  It is important to remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression.  Make sure it is a good one!

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