Archive for November, 2007

The Living Room – Get in Touch with Your Target Buyer

November 15, 2007

Continuing our virtual staging tour from last week when we stepped into the foyer…our next stop is typically the living room. For many homeowners, the living room has evolved into one of two things: it is either a museum, where the owners “nice” stuff is; or it is a play room because it has never been furnished. As a stager, I much prefer the museum, but we have to work with both, so here are some tips:

1. Lighting: Light needs to saturate this room. Heavy curtains should be pulled back as much as possible without revealing the wall. Open blinds or use light white shears for privacy, but sparingly. Pleats are “OK” in the shears, but keep them to a minimum to enlace the ability of light to pass through. Place floor lamps in distant corners from the entrance to increase the depth of the room and draw the eye across its expanse.

2. Color: Neutral, of course. Many homes today have red living rooms. It is a classic look that compliments many styles. For sales purposes, though, red should be toned down, maybe retained as a single accent wall. Energetic and welcoming colors such as orange or yellow based neutrals work well. Go for white on the ceiling here, especially if you are using a bold color on the wall.

3. Focal Point: Decide what your focal point will be…what should the the buyer’s eye be drawn to as they first enter the room? Usually the focal point is a fireplace or window. The focal point must standout explicitly in the room, so we need to eliminate anything that competes with it as you enter from the living room.

4. Furniture: Once you have determined the focal point, create a conversation area with the furniture. If you have two doors in the room, traffic should flow around the conversation area. If you have just one door, the traffic should flow easily to the seating area from the door. Where possible, pull the furniture away from the walls. Furniture against walls creates something of an arena feel, not the intimate feel we are looking for. Also, having the furniture away from the wall helps create the feel of a larger room.

5. Accessories: The living room is where you accessorize according to your target market. For example, if you are targeting a free and unencumbered psychographic, travel related accessorizing is the call. The living room is where you want to make a psychological link with your buyers – you want them to feel “this house works for people with similar interests; it will work for me.” Pack away all personal collectables. You want the focus on the room. Remember, it is not uncommon for children to accompany parents on tours – you should assume anything that looks interesting will be treated as a toy. The parent’s attention needs to be focused on your home, not making sure their children leave your collection of (insert any collectible here) intact. Remove all temptations.

6. The Living Room is a Play Room: OK, you are selling your house, so the play room has to go. No one wants to spend $XXX per square foot for a play room. Clean the toys out (we will talk about play rooms in another issue) and bring in some furniture. Furniture can be borrowed from other rooms or rented. Enough said.As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation

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Holiday Decorating when Trying to Sell Your Home

November 15, 2007

The basic premise of staging is: by neutralizing a home, the home will appeal to a wider audience. By appealing to more buyers, we increase the probability that an offer will be made. Think of the leading brand of any consumer product (not the one you buy, necessarily, but the one most people buy). 99 times out of 100 the product most people buy is a neutral offering. The same applies to home sales; we want to have the most people interested in a property.

Now, here come the holidays, a time when we go down to the basement or up to the attic and pull out boxes of stuff to personalize our home. A stager’s worst nightmare!

Many say that since so few people are home shopping over the holidays, why not splurge a little? I can understand that, but also understand that when someone wants to see your home in December, this is a serious buyer. The seller must make that great impression we have been discussing these past several weeks.So, what to do? I suggest to my clients that they approach decorating for the holidays as though they will be somewhere else for the main event. If you were traveling on the main days of the holiday it is psychologically easier to go light on decking the halls in your own home.

Decide what holiday elements really complement your home, and what elements are put out only because they have sentimental value, or simply because you have them. Placing a swag of greenery over a mantel, for example, is a classic touch. Placing miniature figurines in a North Pole setting with a train circling is a distraction. Not only do decorations provide a distraction, but they act as clutter. Filling every surface area with candy dishes and miniature lighted trees will make the home feel smaller than it really is.

If you have items of great sentimental value, but lacking aesthetic value, leave them in the box until the last minute and put them away immediately after the holiday. I suggest the same for religious and other symbols. Keep advent calendars in drawers, and nativities can be set up on Christmas Eve. Menorahs should also be stored during the day.

The outside of your home can be decorated with wreaths on doors and windows and minimal plain white outdoor lights (“less is more” is the rule here). Keep the glowing Santa lawn ornament in the garage this year. At nighttime, turn on every light you have in the front rooms of the home. Make sure all the bulbs in the exterior lights are functioning. A fully lit home creates wonderful, warm curb appeal at night. Potential buyers frequently drive buy properties before requesting a showing. At this time of year, many of those drive-bys will be after the sun has set.

The holidays are times of excess for many families. The key is to keep the excesses from become excessive and turning away buyers who can’t see the home because it is covered with the owner’s holiday decorations. Keep it simple.

As always, all the best!

Monica, ASP

703-851-2690

Preferred Staging

the art of home preparation