Putting Your Best Foot Forward Designing to Sell

In today’s tough real estate market, people are searching for every advantage they can find when it comes time to sell their property. They’ll search out the best agent they can find. Or place ads in the highest circulation magazines. They’ll lower the price to outpace the competition. But often, people will neglect the most important piece of the whole puzzle: the space itself.

Properly preparing a home for sale can be the difference between whether it sells quickly or instead lingers on the market for months at a time. “Ninety five percent of homes staged sell in 65 days or less versus non-staged homes at 175 days or longer,” says Barb Schwarz, who created the term ‘staging’ more than 30 years ago and is today the owner of the California-based Staged Homes. Staging can help “sell a home more quickly and for more money”—both things that are music to a seller’s ears.

Creating the Ideal Space

Preparing a home to sell means more than just making the space look good. It’s about making the space palatable and appealing to fresh eyes, helping people visualize themselves living there. That’s one way that staging differs from decorating. “Decorating is about personalizing a space,” Schwarz says. “Staging is about de-personalizing a place.”

Schwarz relies on the three C’s of staging to make a place more appealing: clean, clutter-free and color. Cleanliness is absolutely imperative when it comes to selling a home. “People may think a property is clean but they have to see it with other people’s eyes,” Schwarz says. “You have to get it Q-Tip clean.” That includes everything from baseboards to light switches, right on up to the bigger things that people rarely consider like windows.

Tied in with cleaning is clutter, something that can sabotage even the most attractive living area. It’s one of the top mistakes home sellers make, says Nairn Friemann, a certified staging professional and owner of Ingenuity and Pizzazz, Inc., based in New York. “When we ask brokers what went wrong [with a space], they say that people just have too much stuff,” Friemann says. “People get distracted. You want the place to be as bright and spacious as possible. Buyers will base their judgment on how they feel inside the space.” And even if the apartment is the most well-appointed, well-decorated space in the building with million dollar paintings on the wall, “you have to remind people that they’re selling the space, not an art gallery.”


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