While we love to fill our homes with sentimental items and decorate according to our personal tastes, styling your home for sale is a whole different ball game.
When you’ve lived in your home for many years, not only does it become packed with personal items, somewhat mismatched furniture and the various bits and bobs you need for everyday living, it’s also likely to have sustained its fair share of dings and dents.
While style savvy sellers may be able to DIY, it’s worth considering employing a professional property stager who can offer invaluable (and objective) advice to bump up your final sale price. Even if your budget is tight, professional stager Flynn Dovey says a consult will only set you back a few hundred dollars, and they can provide advice on where to focus your spend, what the best features are in each room to highlight – and how to best achieve this.
“Professional styling or staging comes in many levels and price points. At the cheaper end, you can get a consult and do the recommended work yourself, ideal if you’re looking to keep costs low and are willing to put in the hard work – though spring for a stager with experience whose past work you like. At the most expensive end, you’ll get a stylist to carry out the whole plan, including providing high quality hire furniture,” Dovey says.
Investing time and money into styling a property for sale is not just for high-end homes either. Dovey says regular homes stand to benefit most as while expensive homes tend to have high-end finishes, fixtures, fittings and designer furniture, the average home will have standard fixtures and fittings, normal wear and tear and standard furniture.
If you’re going to go it alone, here are Dovey’s top tips:
Go through every room and remove most personal effects. “You want the home to look lived in and cosy, but not lived in by any particular person,” Dovey says. This means religious items and family photos need to be packed away. “Essentially, a buyer needs to walk in and feel they could unpack a bag and be moved in.”
Unless you have a second home to move your belongs to, you’ll need off site storage. That said, even the largest option – around the size of a single car garage, will only set you back around $450 a month, so it is an investment you will see back.
The first step in Dovey’s styling process is to determine the key feature in each room and how best to highlight it. “More often than not, I find this will be the window, so I will do what I can to open them up and allow the light in. Another common key feature is flooring, so I’ll choose raised furniture of the best size and scale for the space.”
Go through every room and clean every surface, top to bottom. This means ceilings, light fittings, walls, windows, window sills, skirting boards and floors. Bathrooms and kitchens are especially important, and if you have fixtures or fittings that cannot be cleaned to a high standard, replace them.
Search property listings and talk to your real estate agent about what style sells houses in your area, then stick to this style throughout. “Picking a style and seeing it through from paint colours to furniture and dcor will help you create a more cohesive, aspirational look.”
This is another non-negotiable unless every wall is already in tip-top condition. It’s an easy way to give your home a fresh, clean and modern look without over capitalising. If you are not skilled with a paintbrush, it’s worth getting quotes for a painter – it is sometimes cheaper than taking the time off work and doing a poor job yourself!
Dovey says investing in fluffy towels and hotel quality linens for the bedrooms (not to mention statement cushions and throws for the couches) is worth the spend to create a space that people will want to live in. “You can often find styling items on Gumtree for a fraction of the cost – from furniture to soft furnishing, towels, linens and accent pieces. Search under staging or styling. Once you’re done with them, you can relist and recoup your money if you like!”
At the end of the day, you want potential buyers to walk in and see themselves living an upgraded life in your abode. If you’re keen to see what a professional stylist or stager can offer, check out the International Institute of Home Staging, the national peak industry body.
Words by Melanie Hearse.
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