12 Days of Staging, A Home Staging Series

The art of great marketing is in the ability to position your product in the mind of the buyer as a product that will fill their specific need and desires. This well-known marketing concept is very powerful when it comes to home staging. “Container House ” focuses on what you do to the mind of the buyer rather than what you do to the product. In other words, a home seller does not need to make expensive renovations and redecorations to have a profound influence on buyers. Small improvements can make a big impact. For example: very thorough cleaning, removing unnecessary furniture, and de-cluttering. In our series “The 12 Days of Staging” we will show you some easy tips and tricks to speed up the sale of your home or listing.

Day 1 Positioning: Start the “Positioning” process by having the homeowner take an active roll in the sale of their home. A wonderful source for information is right close by: take advantage of peoples opinions. Survey friends and family about the way your home looks and feels. Ask them to write down their comments to ease any discomfort involved in critiquing your home. After all, most home owners forced to sell in this market know that it won’t be easy. Put them to task to expedite the sale of their home. The days of simply putting a house on the market without any preparation and selling it in a few hours or days is long gone.

Day 2 Curb Appeal: Many times curb appeal is at the top of our list because it literally is the first impression. This first impression is all-important because it sets the tone for the way the buyer will view the rest of the house. The clock starts ticking at the curb and within fifteen seconds the buyer will develop an attitude toward your house, either positive or negative. Then the buyer will be looking to reinforce their positive or negative initial impression throughout the rest of the home tour. By making the first impression a positive one, the buyer will seek other positive aspects of the home to reinforce their initial impression.

A great exercise to get the ball rolling is to standing in front of your home with critical “buyers eyes” and write down everything that comes to mind. It is always difficult for any home seller to see all the shortfalls of their own home yet it is critical in the success of the sale. To help you in this task ask trusted friends, neighbors, and family what they see when standing in front of your home. Ask them to be brutally honest, or invite them to write down their comments and put them in a hat to be pulled out only after everyone has commented. This way you might get better results and avoid making people feel uncomfortable about criticizing your home.

Day 3 “Here Kitty Kitty”: Who doesn’t love the sound of a cat purring in your ear? So soft, so fluffy….so SMELLY! Well, not always, but cat odors can be a big problem for home sellers. As cat owners ourselves (or “captors” as most felines would put it) we know just how stinky kitty can be sometime. For a home seller this issue can mean the difference between a buyer that stays and looks and one that runs for the door.

1. On days that you know your home is going to be shown consider taking kitty for a car ride. Cats become well accustomed to being in the car and most actually will enjoy the ride. (Note: Do NOT leave your pet in the car unattended. Especially during warm to hot days. Cats can overheat and suffer brain damage or death if left in the car. Dogs too!)
2. If possible on show day’s move the litter box to an out of the way area, or better yet, out of the home.
3. Take up any wet food. Besides being unappetizing to look at it stinks to high heaven!
4. Keep litter boxes scooped as often as possible and replace every couple of weeks with fresh litter. Your cat, and potential buyers, will thank you.
5. Have you noticed that your cat produces an unimaginable amount of hair? We thought so. Keep it swept up. We know, it’s a never ending cycle but our job is to help you sell your home. Tufts of hair on the floor make buyer’s think “dirty house” and that is the last impression they need.
6. Kitty go outside the litter box? If this is a new problem you should take them to the vet. Cats can get crystals in their urine, which can be deadly if left untreated.
7. Help is on the way! Behold the “Stink finder”! This tool is a great way to spot just what kitty has been up to. Also known as a black light you can purchase one at your local pet supply store. Simply turn off the lights and walk around the walls of each room. If kitty has made a mess it will show up in the light. Also, move over every inch of carpet.

(Keep blinds closed so your neighbors won’t think you’ve gone crazy as you crawl around on your hands and knees in the dark holding a black light.)
8. If you find an area that is suspicious you will need to confirm with the good old fashion smell test. (For those of you not familiar with the unmistakable smell of cat urine, it can best be described as somewhere between ammonia and the worst smell imaginable. Consider yourself warned.)
9. After your blood pressure has returned to normal it’s time to tackle the problem. Luckily today there are a number of good products on the market. First, pull up the carpet and seal the concrete to eliminate the smell.

(Kilz is a good product) Cat urine does not lose its odor so it’s imperative that you seal off the smell from the source. Next, either have the carpet professionally cleaned or purchase an enzyme type cleaner from the store. If kitty has gone on the walls or baseboards repeat the first step above using Kilz and then repaint the wall. (Aren’t cats fun?!)
10. Lastly, keep your home as clean as possible. Pet dander is a real problem for some people so clean, clean, and clean and replace your air filter often. A buyer having a sneezing attack upon walking in your front door is more than likely not going to be a buyer clamoring to purchase your home.

Day 4 It’s OK To Point…Focal Point That Is: Focal points throughout a home are particularly important. They pull a buyer into a space, bring emotions into play, and tell the story of a home’s details. Every area has a focal point and every focal point must maximize the positive impact on a buyer touring a home.

As a seller ask yourself some tough questions concerning your home’s focal points. Write down the questions and answers, and then ask friends and family to answer the same questions. You might be surprised at some of the answers. It’s very hard for people to be impartial about their own home.

Use the questions below as a template:

1. What is the first thing someone notices when they walk into this room?
2. Is it positive or negative?
3. What is the focal point in this room?
4. What should be the focal point of this room?
5. Is it a positive or negative?
6. Does it compete with another focal point?
7. How can we complement the focal point?
8. Is your seating reinforcing the focal point?
9. Does the focal point pull you into the space?
10. Is the focal point well lit, clean, and inviting?

Once you have identified every room’s focal point be sure to emphasize its positive attributes so it naturally draws the buyer’s eye and inspires a positive emotional reaction. A buyer’s attraction to a beautiful focal point is not just endearing, it also serves to downplay any negative elements a space might have.

Day 5 Skeletons in the Closet: Closets throughout a home are important, yet often overlooked by sellers. Buyers touring homes always look into closets, checking out the size, functionality and capacity of the space but that’s not all buyers are looking for. Buyers are also looking to see if there is a story to tell just under the surface. A well organized closet says volumes about the seller, a home’s maintenance, as well as the home’s unseen details.

Everything in a home and every space throughout a home, even the closets, must look their very best.

Since you will be packing things away anyway tackle one closet at a time starting with the master closet.

1. Pack away anything you have not used or worn in four months. For most of us, it’s about 80% of our wardrobe.
2. Group by item starting with shirts, blouses, jackets, skirts and lastly pants (If you have a walk-in closet, pants should be in the back.) Separate the His and Her’s sections.
3. Make sure each item is facing the same direction (away from the door).
4. Organize shoes preferably in a rack on the floor.
5. Clear off and pack away anything on the top of the closet shelf.
6. Organize any “loose” items such as belts and scarves in matching boxes or baskets on the top of the closet.
7. Consider buying inexpensive hat boxes/nesting boxes for accessories to add a little drama.
8. Consider buying a closet organizer (Target has these now) which can be very appealing to homebuyers.
9. Finally, since closets usually don’t have any natural light, make sure your artificial light is extra bright by replacing the bulbs and cleaning the fixtures.
10. Remember, preparing your home to sell is a process that takes time but will net you thousands in return!

Closets are an area that home buyers pry into, so it’s a good idea to appear spacious, neat and organized. The neater you appear to be, the more your homebuyer will view the house as well “taken care of”.

Day 6 Dog’s playing poker: What is “art”? Webster’s dictionary defines art as: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

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