Today's guest blog post is from Michelle Armitage, who runs Light and Frank Interiors. She specialises in the psychology of interiors. Here, she discusses why staging your home for a sale really is worth the effort...
For most people, your home is the most expensive thing you own. And when you decide to move, whether it’s a cool or hot market, you want to sell quickly and for the best possible price! So, the question is…. how do you do that?
One trend that is very popular in the US, and that is starting to catch on in the UK is home staging. Rightmove research in 2016 revealed that in the U.K., staged homes sold for 8% more than non-staged ones.
So, what’s going on here?!! Why don’t more people stage their house to sell?
In my experience, it’s emotional. We love our homes! It is the place we retreat to after a hard day at work. It is the place we spend weekends and holidays decorating and doing up so that it reflects our style, our taste, and our personality. It is the place we host friends and families at special events, birthdays, anniversaries and ‘just because’. You become emotionally attached to the home you create. And it isn’t just you and your family. When I sold my home last year, my friends grieved too. I liked to have parties, and my friends liked that I liked to have parties. “Oh no! Your beautiful home!” They lamented. “It’s ok” I reassured them. “I’ll make another one”.
Added to the above, we tend to think people look at the world the way we do. i.e. I like it, so other people will like it. The stark reality is that they don’t see your home the same way you do. We are all very different, with different tastes, values, views. That large flowered wallpaper that you love so much? I’m sorry, but not everyone will like it and it will put off some potential buyers.
And finally, we are very comfortable in our homes just the way they are. The little flaws we might have noticed when we moved in, like that stain on the kitchen ceiling from an old leak, now go unnoticed. But they stand out to a potential buyer.
The Home stagers’ checklist:
Let’s imagine that you are curious or even convinced by the possibility of a quicker sale, higher sale price, or both?! What next? Here are some gems from my home stager checklist:
1. Mentally move on: -
This is the most important barrier for you to overcome. You are moving somewhere new and making a new start. This could be for a variety of reasons, some might be joyful, some sad; new job, more room for family, death, divorce, change in finances etc. There’s usually a lot going on. The last thing you FEEL like doing is decluttering, decorating, and seeing the sale as a business transaction.
Try to look at it with fresh eyes. Your buyers eye! “It’s not that easy I hear some of you cry”. Let’s review that statistic, shall we? 8%. EIGHT PER CENT!!!!!! The average house price in BS8 at the moment according to Zoopla is £569,893. If you add 8% to that figure it increases to £615,484. That’s over £45,000.
If you need help to move on, chat to friends, or if it’s more serious, go to a counsellor. Your future self will thank you. Because, when the emotional stuff settles, as it inevitably will, your financial position will have longer lasting consequences in the way you get to live your life.
2. Decide who your likely buyers are and dress your home to suit them, not you: -
If you’re not sure what the demographic of your buyers looks like, discuss this with your Estate Agent. They have lots of experience. Does your home suit a student rental? Young professional couple? Family with children? Retired couple? Single person etc. etc.
For example; if your home will mainly appeal to families then you need to think about the way they would use a house. This might mean that you need to pack up your home office and put bedroom furniture in instead. It might mean that your lovely formal dining room looks better as a family room?
3. De-clutter, de-personalise: -
When people look around your home they are trying to imagine themselves there. Your children’s art, books, magazines, photos, collection of art and paintings, ornaments, keepsakes, gaming consoles, paperwork etc all tell the story of YOU living there. So, take away at least 50% of it and neutralise i.e. take away the personality. Think of it as leaving enough psychological space for someone else’s personality to move in. Put it all away in boxes ready for when you move and move it out to a friend’s garage or other safe space.
4. Review your kerb appeal: -
What does your house look like on approach? Is it appealing? Nicely painted from door? Is it welcoming? Is the front garden tidy? Could you add pots of flowers by the front door? Are bins and recycling boxes tidies away? Have you removed any rubbish? Many people will do a drive by your home before they book a viewing. Make sure it looks good.
Do it yourself or employ a professional firm:
The above list is just some of what I do to help people home stage. The checklist I use has over 20 points on it! There’s a lot to consider and potentially a lot of work for you. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll find lots of information and resources on line to guide you.
But if you don’t quite have the stomach for it all then I highly recommend you bring in an expert who will guide you through the process. It will be worth every penny! Fees start from £250 to do a review of your home and provide you with a report (for you to follow up) or up to a few £1,000’s to advise, design and project manage any work. Some will add a % of added value in their fees so it’s worth checking the fee structure carefully.
If you can, enjoy your home while you journey through time in it and then learn to let go and let someone else take over. Your memories are attached to you, not the place. And nothing can change that.
Michelle runs Light and Frank Interiors. She specialises in the psychology of interiors. www.lightandfrank.com