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Holiday Home-Staging Tips To Help Sell Your House

It’s that time of year again when family and friends descend on your home to carve the turkey, light the menorah or trim the tree. If you play your cards right, the holidays can be a great time to sell your home; there’s less competition in the market and home shoppers are highly motivated.

Even with less competition, it is important to stage your home in a way that will appeal to the masses to attract the most potential buyers to your home, even if it means changing your personal decor for a while. If you’re looking to sell your home during this busy time of year, making your home festive while also keeping it show-ready is a delicate balance. Try these tips to keep your home in the holiday spirit while on the market.

1. Be Tasteful At The Curb

Curb appeal is the first thing that potential buyers notice about your home. Keep the tinsel, multicolored lights and those blow-up characters in storage. Remember that neutral decor has mass appeal and, when in doubt, keep it simple.

The entrance to your home should be understated. Try using white lights for elegance. Keep to a simple color scheme to highlight your home’s exterior colors. Use natural elements like pine cones, seasonal flowers and greenery. Don’t forget to hang a seasonal decorative wreath on your door or windows.

Remember that potential buyers will be driving by your home at all hours, even if they don’t have a showing scheduled. Keep your lawn cut and clear of leaves, keep your driveway and sidewalks free of snow, and sweep off your porch more frequently than you might otherwise. You want to be sure that your home looks extremely well-maintained from the street.

2. Light Up Your Home

With the days getting shorter, it’s important to focus on your light sources. You will want to have good lighting on both the inside and outside of your home. Since it gets dark before dinner time, many of your home showings will likely be after dark. Have a bright porch light so potential buyers can clearly see the front door and the key to get in. White twinkle lights add a festive touch and help to provide a little extra lighting.

When buyers or guests approach the house, having all your interior lights on illuminates the home and lures them inside to a warm, inviting atmosphere. If you have a home showing during the day, keep the curtains open to let in natural light. A well-lit home allows potential buyers to see your entire space and appreciate every detail.

3. Holiday Style Should Enhance Home Style

Every home has an architectural style – specific features that characterize a home – and you should include that style in your holiday decor. Before you put up the holiday trimmings, make sure they match the home’s theme and color scheme to avoid any distractions.

If you have a traditional home, classic decorations will accent better than contemporary decorations. Midcentury modern homes should be paired with vintage decorations. Keep holiday decor in line with your home’s style to best accentuate the selling features of your space.

4. Seasonal Vs. Religious Decor

While Thanksgiving is commonly celebrated regardless of religious beliefs, Chanukah and Christmas are connected to their respective religions and excessive religious decoration could be a turn-off for interested buyers.

Keep your religious decor to a minimum and show your spirit with seasonal accents instead. Seasonal decor could be snowflakes, greenery, winter branches, wrapped gifts, ornaments, owls or reindeer.

Try not to use decorations that are too personalized, because buyers will have a hard time picturing themselves in the home. This is not the year to display all of your kid’s pictures with Santa. Keep it simple and remember that you have no idea who your buyer might be or what they might like, so go for things that are universally likeable.

5. Reuse Current Decor

If you plan to put out a bunch of holiday decor, you really should remove some of your everyday decorations to keep the space from getting too cluttered. To keep your holiday decor simple, plan on using items that you normally have lying around your home. Reuse lanterns, candlesticks, vases or bowls, cake stands, picture frames and other accessories, but dress them up with festive trinkets to change the look of the piece. Less is more on house showings.

For example, place ornaments inside the lantern, add pine cones in an apothecary jar or wrap a colorful ribbon around the bottom of a clear vase with seasonal flowers. If you have a lot of framed photos, consider temporarily swapping the photos with holiday wrapping paper for a subtle festive touch. Small accents are really all of the holiday decor that you need when selling your home.

6. Pay Attention To The Color Scheme

When adding holiday decor in your home, you’ll want to think about the current colors you are displaying. While silver and gold go with any color, Christmas bright red can clash with your light blue walls or be too bright for an earth tone color scheme. So, use colors that will complement the palette rather than be an eyesore. Try to have your colors blend in more than you usually would.

When in doubt about what will look best in real estate photos, take some photos yourself. Before the official photographer comes over, snap a few pictures on your phone. Look at them – or better yet, show them to someone who does not live in your home – and note what draws your eye. If the holiday decor is overwhelming, you need to scale it back. You want your home to be the star of your listing photos.

7. Accentuate Your Home’s Positive Features

When staging a home, it’s important to make focal points stand out. To do this, avoid blocking beautiful views, cluttering up the shelves or mantel, or hiding any other unique features in your home.

Don’t display large collections of holiday decor. Rooms filled with decorations can feel smaller and collections distract from features of your home. You want potential buyers to walk away remembering your wonderful home, instead of only remembering your overwhelming Christmas village.

Choose a few specific areas of the home to decorate and key accents to show off those highlighted features. If your house has a high ceiling, accentuate the space with a tall, narrow tree tastefully decorated to showcase the space. If there are arched windows or doors, highlight the shape with garland. Keep holiday decorations simple and let your home really shine.

The Big Picture

Remember – home buyers are not buying your stuff. If your holiday decor is overwhelming or distracting, they may not be able to see or appreciate the home underneath.

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How Much Does It Cost to Stage Your Home?

If you’ve ever felt an enticing pull from a glamorous store window or from photographs online, you know more than ever how good design can impact your spending. Home stagers operate using this very concept.

But with a wide range of costs and benefits, it can be difficult to figure out if home staging is right for you. So, let’s break down the costs of home staging, how it works, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your money.

What Is Home Staging?

There are many different views of what home staging is – some may view stagers as laissez-faire workers who merely light a candle or plop down a vase of flowers before calling it a day, while others associate home staging with intensive, top-to-bottom home renovations.

In reality, both scenarios can be true – the quality and intensity of a home staging varies depending on the stager and of course, your home.

Generally speaking, however, home staging is a marketing strategy that combines interior design and psychology to generate more money for you, the home seller.

There’s even a growing industry for home staging awards which acknowledge the best in the redesign business – think of it as the Golden Globes for modeled homes.

So, how did home staging rise to the forefront of the real estate world? Well, because it works.

But don’t just take it from me.

The Benefits of Home Staging

Just like everything else, home staging has its fair share of skeptics – after all, can some new chairs or a fresh coat of paint really make that much of a difference? The short answer: yes.

Unstaged homes may appeal to contractors looking to buy fixer-uppers for their own profit, whereas staged homes make it easier for first-time home buyers to really visualize living their lives in your home.

But what do the numbers say?

According to a 2019 report from the National Association of REALTORS®, “Eighty-three percent of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize a property as their future home.”

Additionally, the NAR also found that on average, for every $100 spent by the seller, the potential for return could be as high as $400.

With the opportunity to reap these rewards in mind, let’s make sure your home staging tactics are on the right track.

The Dos and Don’ts of Home Staging

Do: Remove Personal Belongings

In a Q-and-A with the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Andrea Angott – who has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been studying the behaviors behind home staging’s success – discusses the most important steps to take when staging.

She found that one of the most important things to do when staging your home is remove all personal effects from your bathroom. This includes toothbrushes, razors, soaps and beauty products.

In the Q-and-A, Angott theorizes that this is of great importance due to the fact that “… people don’t want to feel that the house they’re buying is lived-in … they don’t want to imagine that other people are inhabiting the place they want to buy.”

This reasoning is also why stagers will tell you to depersonalize your home and make it as “neutral” as possible – this means no family photographs, collectibles or antique-esque furniture.

Don’t: Remodel

This tip might sound misleading – after all, isn’t home staging a form of remodeling? But what we mean is this: don’t go wild with new renovations.

Home staging should fix purely cosmetic blemishes because chances of receiving a full return on your remodel are low. Additionally, no matter how “to die for” you might find your new remodel, you could be cutting out a whole market of potential buyers who don’t share your same tastes.

Typically, it’s safer, and less stressful, to simply stick with easy fixes.

Do: Understand Your Target Market

When it comes to real estate you want to make selling your home as seamless as possible, which means understanding your target market.

Is your neighborhood fit for families? Is your home a great space for new couples? If you can figure out what pool of potential buyers would be most likely to purchase your home, you can then stage with their tastes in mind.

Don’t: Sell An Empty Home

A general rule of thumb in real estate is to try and avoid selling an empty house – something which is reserved for a “last resort” situation. This is because unstaged houses generally spend more time on the market and wind up selling for less.

With vacant homes, buyers typically have a harder time visualizing their lifestyle and though it may seem counterintuitive, empty rooms actually seem smaller than furnished ones. It will also be easier for buyers to fixate on minor flaws, seeing as they’ll be a main focal point in your empty room.

To combat this, you can still fix up your home in small ways – skip ahead to the section on “soft staging” for more ideas, or consider sprucing up your landscaping for increased curb appeal.

Whatever efforts you choose to make, they’ll be well worth it in the end.

So, How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

If you’ve been looking for a black-and-white answer about how much hiring a home stager will cost, chances are you haven’t found one. That’s because staging costs vary greatly depending on your home and your situation.

But if you’re looking for an estimate, feel free to try out Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide or simply keep reading to learn more.

Vacant Vs. Owner-Occupied Homes

To properly discuss the potential cost of a home staging, we must first talk about the seller’s living situation: are they occupying the home for sale or living elsewhere?

Both situations present different costs but usually owner-occupied homes give a stager more to work with. In owner-occupied homes, the stager will be able to utilize the furniture and decor the seller already has for the final staged designs. A vacant home, however, calls for a stager to rent or buy new pieces to furnish your home.

This doesn’t guarantee, however, that having furniture on hand will save you tons of money. Yes, vacant homes require rented or purchased pieces, but owner-occupied staging still calls for the cost of labor, and depending on how many items you have, you may also be looking at storage costs down the road.

This is why it’s also important to know what kind of home you have before staging.

Assess Your House

Let’s say you have a multilevel home – obviously your stager will need to make trips up and down stairs to properly stage the key rooms in your home. If their redesign calls for bulky furniture, they may even have to hire movers to get things where they need to be.

A ranch-style home won’t have the same costs in labor as a home with three stories, which is why finding an exact price for staging online can be so difficult.

So, it’s up to you, the seller, to weigh the costs your unique home may have and figure out what staging options are right for you.

How Can I Save Money on Home Staging?

No matter your home style, chances are you want to save money. And believe it or not, there are many ways to make your dollar work harder when it comes to home staging.

Make the Most of Consultations

Although home staging consultations generally still cost you money, the per-hour rate of a consultation will be significantly less than a general labor fee per hour. So, take advantage of this time to be as productive as possible.

Typically, consultations last just 2 hours during which time home stagers will assess your furniture and decor to decide what pieces can be used or what should be stored. By setting aside decorative pieces and furniture ahead of time, you can save your stager the labor and time of sifting through your home for those eye-catching pieces.

Stage Key Areas

Obviously staging fewer rooms will save you money, but be sure to spruce up the most important areas of your home. This includes the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and living area.

You should also keep the entryway where potential buyers will first enter as nice as possible – you want them to have a positive first impression of your home.

Closing Costs

This tip really depends on your home stager and your individual situation, but it can’t hurt to ask your stager if you can pay them using money from the sale.

Including staging in your closing costs can save you money in the moment, but if you’ll need the money from your sale to go elsewhere, this may not be for you.

It’s all about assessing what works best for you.

Soft Staging

Finally, there’s the tactic of soft staging.

Soft staging is decorating and accessorizing your home to add small touches without fully furnishing the space. This can range from fruit bowls to artwork to area rugs.

Soft staging is generally discouraged by real estate professionals and stagers alike since the more effort you put into staging, the more return on the investment you’ll get. However, it is a cost-effective solution for sellers looking for a frugal fix and is always better than selling a vacant home.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you want your home on the market for as short a period as possible – to save money from the monthly upkeep and to ease the stress of selling.

Staging your home, regardless of whether you pull out all the stops or use the soft staging technique, can decrease your time on the market and put more money in your pocket.

If you want to take a more hands-on approach to home staging, check out our article on affordable DIY Home Staging Projects.

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