Research shows ‘staging’ your home increases sale price by 10%; property stylist Dean Davis tells us how.
If you are selling a $500,000 property, you could see an extra $50,000 in your back pocket simply by presenting (staging) it at its best. While the extra cash is always handy, staging also reduces the time (and hassle) of said property sitting on the market unsold. This is especially true if you have a mortgage. Because if your property is sitting there vacant, you’re losing rent money every month it doesn’t sell, including the bills that come with it.
And yet, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume an empty property is the perfect canvas for a potential buyer. However, you would also have to assume buyers can visualise their new home with furniture. While some people might be capable of visualising their future home, many struggle with their imagination. ‘I can’t imagine fitting a king-size bed in there’ would be a typical complaint of an empty bedroom.
Dean Davis and wife Michelle came to the rescue at the Home Show with their company M&Co. They say when you’re married, your skills are not added up but multiplied. In this case, Michelle’s property stylist experience blended with Dean’s tradie background make them an unstoppable force.
What should you consider when selling?
? Areas to invest
? Decluttering and storage
? Maintaining property
Chapter 1 – Timing ⏰
So, when is the best time to begin planning? Dean believes starting six months out is sensible. Giving you enough time to start talking to estate agents, sourcing a staging company or planning DIY. With these tips, you can do everything yourself on a budget.
Chapter 2 – Areas to Invest ?
“It’s important that we think of [staging] as an investment because we want to spend a dollar, and get back three,” said Dean. Take your valuation price and divide it by twenty. Keep within this budget, and you will recuperate your costs.
Painting is a quick-fire way to instantly boost your property price as Dean illustrates, “Most people think they need to re-paint their whole house. Which costs between $8,000 – $10,000. We often do that, but we also do’ patch painting’. Patch painting is going over heavily scuffed areas for about $2,000 – $2,500.”
Carpet & Flooring
Another quick fix-up is refreshing your flooring, which often falls victim to wear-and-tear. This is your chance to install some light floorboards to open up space. Or go for something striking like Japan Black Stain. Dean can’t contain his excitement, “If you go into a home and it’s freshly carpeted, or the floor has been freshly polished, it just looks sensational. Fresh carpets, especially if you’re styling on top of it, can really make those photos.”
Throw open those curtains, peel off the window coverings, shear the sheers, swat the fly screens and let there be light! Nobody doubts their practicality, but window accessories do not sell houses. Houses mostly sell on looks, not practicality. Take them off and put them in storage so buyers know they can still use them after purchase.
Replace any halogen lightbulbs with LED down-lights and ensure every corner of your home is well-lit. Designer Adele Locke of Mint Lighting gave us an illuminating talk on effective lighting at the Home Show – Always Look on the Bright Side of Lights.
Chapter 3 – Decluttering and Storage ?
Dean warned, “When you’ve owned a property for some time, you will have a fair few items to get rid of.” Anyone who’s watched an episode of Hoarders will know you can literally get buried in your past. Your kids first shoes, your wedding outfit or that pair of underwear you wore during the Queen’s diamond jubilee… Everything can become sentimental, but what’s worth keeping?
Four piles should be labelled: charity, council, storage and rubbish (in that order).
Charity - many charities provide bags that you can fill up with items and leave at the end of your driveway for pick-up.
Council – most councils allow a hard rubbish collection 2 – 3 times a year. These items are then sold in resource recovery centres for those bagging a bargain.
Storage - If you really can’t let it go, there are several options for storage. There are long term storage providers like Fort Knox and innovative services like Taxi Box which takes away your items and drops them off again at a different location. If you’re saving pennies, simply box everything up and leave everything in the corner of your garage.
Rubbish - Finally, if you’ve exhausted all of your options, then put these items into landfill. Remember, it’s now against the law to throw away electrical items. Take these to an e-waste collection point.
Chapter 4 – Styling ?
Why is styling important? Contemplate the mantra, ‘first impressions count’. Home photos (your marketing) will be the first thing thousands of internet users will see when browsing properties on RealEstate.com, Domain Magazine and Property.com. Regardless of which estate agent you choose, these websites hoover up all the adverts and attract millions of buyers every year.
If your photos are bland, people will simply not click through and book an inspection. Styling your home means opening up spaces and creating emotional hooks. For example, a vintage chair with exotic cushions and scented candles will catch the eye VS an empty corner with dust and cobwebs.
Home stagers understand the importance of style in presentation. They can identify tricky spaces and problem solve by transforming them into a study or reading nook. Buyers want to feel like they are at Ikea, walking around different colour schemes and browsing stylistic options. One powerful connection with a room will stick in their memory after the viewings are finished.
There’s another famous expression ‘people buy on emotion and justify with logic.’ The secret to selling a home is to pull on the heartstrings of potential buyers. For example, investing in vintage furniture and lighting in the entrance area. Painting your front door a high gloss black. Or changing the taps in your kitchen and bathroom to matte black. These are emotional hooks designed to trigger an action after viewing.
One mysterious aspect of home staging that is often overlooked is space. As we’ve discussed, empty space makes your home look small, uninspiring and even haunted. Too much clutter, and you may have your home featured in Hoarders. Go the middle way with a few cleverly spaced out set-pieces. Dean emptied his thoughts, “If 20/30 people are coming in for an inspection, you want there to be enough space so it’s not crowded, and there’s flow between features.”
When it comes to styling, you have two options: full or partial style:
Full style – the whole works, will cost you more but will guarantee a quick sale.
Partial style – for those on a budget or living at the property. Switching out specific furniture for something more daring and practical. E.g. replacing a large dark dining table with a small glass table that enlarges the space.
Chapter 5 – Maintaining property ?
Last and not least comes maintenance. It sits up there with repairs on the staging Richter scale. Selling a house takes months, especially if you hold-out for the best offer. During that time, your grass will grow long, surfaces will get dusty, and clutter will build (if you live there).
Even the most frugal spenders among us have to admit that a damaged house is not a good look. If the first thing you see when you walk through the door is rusted downpipes, squeaky floorboards, loose cupboard brackets or grout; it’s not going to leave a good impression. As the saying goes – ‘first impressions count’.
Buyers want a well-maintained property to avoid further headaches after moving in. Dean maintains this point, “Once a rusted downpipe is fixed, it doesn’t exactly add value to your property, but it doesn’t devalue it.”
“Often people think they’re about to sell the largest possession they own and feel they have to get a landscaper through to do $20,000 worth of landscaping. That’s not actually the case” advises Dean. The essential tactic for tackling your garden is simple, ‘keep everything clean’. You need to create a canvas that the new owner can splash their personal style on.
Create a black mulch border around the edges of the garden to make plant colours ‘pop’.
Spray paint your fence a charcoal colour for further ‘popping’ of grass. No fence? No worry. Use magnolia ‘teddy bear’ hedges to save thousands on fencing.
Do you have a cracked driveway? Save thousands on expensive aggregate with a topping or large stones.
☀️ Summer – maintain your garden fortnightly
❄️ Winter – once right before inspections begin
“When you sell a car, you get it cut and polished and get it detailed. That’s exactly what we’re doing, just for a house.” It ain’t fun, but the cleanings got to be done.
Whether you hire a cleaner or do it yourself. Dean recommends a one-hour mid-week clean to carry you through to the weekend. If you hire a stylist to stage your home, they can also come over throughout the week to ‘reset’ rooms to reflect marketing pictures. This option is particularly useful if you have messy kids (caution: stylists may violently karate chop pillows).
Cleaning costs can rack up as you continually fight to maintain a picture-perfect home. Being prepared for a potential buyer is easier when you’re not living in the property, and the estate agents have keys. If you don’t have a choice, then it’s worth decluttering two times as much stuff to avoid creating excess mess during your day-to-day living.
Watch the full seminar – ‘Styling your home for sale’ with Dean Davis from M&Co.