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Home Staging to Sell

As life changes, it may become necessary to leave a familiar home and part with personal belongings in order to downsize and relocate to a smaller home or retirement community. As you prepare for a pending move by sorting and packing, you may also want to consider the benefits of home staging. In today’s real estate market, “staging” a home for sale is not only an accepted practice, it’s expected. For many of our clients, staging is a new term, but the concept of curb appeal and getting your home or property ready for sale has always been important to sellers who want to get the best possible price for their home. The terms stage and staging were coined several years ago by realtors who often found themselves setting the stage for potential buyers as they prepared properties for open house events. Fluffing couch cushions, polishing stair rails, turning up the lights and baking cookies in the oven were all tricks of the trade designed to help potential buyers feel welcomed and relaxed as they toured a property. Model homes, with all their upgrades, comforts and flair, have always been staged so that they appeal to potential buyers seeking the perfect place to call home.

Staging Today

Over the past 10 years, the art of home staging has reached new heights. As the market becomes more competitive, the importance of listing a buyer-ready property has increased. Today, preparing a home for placement on the market involves much more than straightening magazines and adding the smell of fresh-baked goods. Staging has become the norm, and realtors and professional home stagers make serious and sometimes costly recommendations to homeowners that include everything from aggressive decluttering and furniture rentals to complete room makeovers including kitchen and bath remodels. They stress the importance of viewing a property through the buyer’s eyes.

Return On Investment

As with any investment, sellers should proceed with caution before accepting just anyone’s word for the amount of staging that needs to be done before their home can be listed. Experienced professionals will provide suggestions, and they will have a solid grasp on the seller’s position in the marketplace, including an evaluation of recently sold properties and the potential return on investment if expensive repairs are included with the recommendations. Initially, staging work may seem costly; however, when you compare spending $5,000 on staging to dropping your list price by $15,000, it may ultimately be the less expensive way to sell your house. According to recent Real Estate Staging Association statistics, staged homes are on the market 67 percent less time than non-staged homes.

Basic Home Staging

If you are a skilled or impartial seller, the basic steps to home staging are not difficult to follow; however, many homeowners find it easier and more effective to hire a professional or work with an experienced realtor to get their property ready for listing. The following steps may help you get started:
  • Understand that living in a staged home is different than living in your home. It is no longer about your comfort or decorating preferences; it’s about the buyer’s perception.
  • View every room from the doorway to evaluate clear entryways and a spacious feel. Move or eliminate furnishings to improve those items.
  • View every room for the amount of natural and artificial light. Take steps to add light, clean windows and open up window treatments.
  • Evaluate your paint colors (neutral is best), busy wallpaper patterns and any structural damage. Hire professionals to make improvements in these areas.
  • Thoroughly clean everything—cobwebs, skylights, windows, brickwork, baseboards, flooring, carpets, corners of appliances, etc.
  • Declutter rooms by removing extra furniture, old storage items, electronics, collectibles and other items that create a cluttered feeling. Hold an estate sale to optimize the value of your possessions and offset other costs.
  • Don’t fill your storage spaces to help clear out other rooms. Buyers want to know how much space is available.
  • Depersonalize. Taking down refrigerator magnets, family photos and religious items may be emotionally difficult, but your ultimate objective is to allow potential buyers to imagine their life filling the space, not yours.

Later-Life Transitions

When older adults have decided to downsize or move to a senior living community after living in the same home for several years, it is recommended the client choose their furnishings and items for their new residence first, then move. The house should only be staged and placed on the market after they have moved. This gives the client a chance to settle into their new home while still having the opportunity to downsize their family home and get it ready for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors, about 50 percent of older homes require repair and will require additional work prior to sale. Relocations later in life are stressful, and trying to repair and stage a home while the client is still living there often adds to feelings of discomfort, confusion and anxiety. Of course, it is not always financially possible to move before the family home is sold. In those instances, changes to a house may need to be made slowly. The client’s ability to navigate change, while feeling safe and comfortable should be monitored throughout the home staging process. Preparing a house for market is a big event. As we work with clients, realtors or home stagers on decluttering or downsizing projects, we always focus on maintaining environments that help reduce stress while helping everyone achieve their objective—a quick sale at a great price.
About Adrian. Adrian Walter-Ginzburg, PhD, is President and CEO of Caring Transitions, a company that specializes in helping clients who are looking to downsize and relocate to a smaller home or retirement community. Caring Transitions helps their clients understand the process, evaluate their options and make informed decisions that suit their best interests and is committed to making each client’s experience positive by minimizing stress and maximizing results. You can contact Caring Transitions of New York City for a Consultation by calling 646-726-7510, visiting or emailing Adrian at