Spring Staging Brings Spring Homebuyers

Learn why staging your home creates value for buyers and can lead to a quicker and more lucrative sale

(This article was ghostwritten and published on Diablomag.com.)

As the unofficial real estate adage goes, “spring flowers bring spring buyers.” While Contra Costa County saw shrinking home inventory as 2014 ended, we should see more properties hit the market in the first two quarters of 2015, as warmer weather and near-record-low mortgage rates bring homebuyers out of hibernation.

Contra Costa sellers who want to sweeten their homes’ appeals to these potential buyers should pay special attention to staging, which can increase foot traffic, lead to a quicker sale, and net a higher final sales price.

The What’s and Why’s of Staging

Staging includes:
•    Cleaning and de-cluttering the property
•    Painting the home’s interior and exterior
•    Fixing and cleaning flooring (hardwood refinishing, carpeting, and tile)
•    Updating doors, fixtures, and plumbing
•    Changing furniture

Creating a good first impression is important for home sellers who want to immediately wow shoppers.  Only about 10 percent of buyers can fully visualize the potential of a home that hasn’t been staged, in part because almost every serious home seller spends the time and money on this crucial process.

“Staging is the norm, the expectation,” Danielle Cirelli, owner of Walnut Creek-based Designed to Sell, said.

Key staging benefits include:
•    Showing the maximum amount of space
•    Presenting the home as needing little-to-no renovations
•    Increasing the property’s perceived value
•    Raising visual profile for online listings, which is where 90 percent of buyers start their home searches

Staging can help sellers quickly unload a property for a higher price, according to Laney Nelson, Accredited Staging Professional stager for Walnut Creek-based East Bay Staging. Nelson’s process includes a home evaluation, assessing what needs to be removed and repaired, and framing the space.

Staged properties are more attractive and can sell roughly 40 percent faster and for between 3 to 20 percent above original price when compared with their non-staged counterparts. Staging costs less than the first listing price reduction – usually a minimum of 10 percent – so sellers that have their professionally staged should recoup the cost.

Tips for Practical Staging

Contra Costa County homebuyers lean toward those who have or plan to have children, so local sellers should consider that demographic when staging. Kelly Wood, a buyer’s specialist and a former stager, noted that office space, play/bonus and living rooms, and a combination kitchen/great room are highly desirable to this type of client.

Contemporary and classic finishes are also currently popular with younger homebuyers, as are unfussy homes with simple colors and hardwood flooring. Neutral carpeting, hardwood floors, and simple fixtures tend to resonate with buyers of all ages.

Home décor and furniture selection are key pieces of the staging puzzle, both of which should complement the home’s style and draw positive attention to its features. Wood said that while you can mix and match pieces of various costs to match the home’s style, you shouldn’t combine extremes like “contemporary in a super-traditional home.” Cirelli agreed, saying that such combinations can leave buyers confused. She stresses the importance of furniture size, saying that a piece too large or small can “make a room look disproportionate.”

Contra Costa County sellers should also focus on staging outdoor spaces, which have recently become more important, Cirelli says. Landscaping, seating and lounge areas, barbecue sections and fire pits, and large yards all attract local buyers, particularly given the East Bay’s temperate year-round climate.

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