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Ask McEnearney: Is It Important To Stage My Home Before Listing It?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Is it important to stage my home before listing it?

Answer: Everyone thinks they have good taste, but honestly, no one’s taste matters more when selling your home than the buyer’s. The goal is to showcase your home’s many features, while allowing the buyer to create their own vision for the home and to see a future for themselves in it.

Staging can seem overwhelming. In my experience, one of the main misconceptions about staging is that you need to be entirely moved out for someone to come in with new furniture to stage your home in boring colors and design. The fact is, stagers can offer a range of services, and the majority of my clients who sell their homes use mostly their own décor, just less of it and rearranged a bit. Many of my clients who sell their homes also choose to live in it while it’s on the market — so, of course, they still need their furniture. Many realtors are partnered with stagers who can stage the home with the owner’s existing belongings.

Typically, when someone decorates, the aim is to make their living space a reflection of their personality and lifestyle. Home staging is different from decorating in that it is actually DE-personalizing the space, so a wider range of personalities (buyers) can imagine themselves enjoying the space.

One of the biggest mistakes a seller can make is waiting too long to consult a stager. According to Kelly DeMaso, owner of Simplified Organizing and Staging, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and that’s the key to a quicker sale… The best time to stage your home is BEFORE you put it on the market.” The cost of having your home sit on market for too long could far outweigh the cost and energy of having a stager come over for an hour or two to offer advice — or even having them spend the day to do the work.

Your home is one of the biggest reflections of who you are, and if you’re like most people, you’re proud of it! You’ve probably curated the artwork on the walls with love and to suit your tastes. The fridge is covered in magnets you’ve collected, holding up shopping lists, sweet notes and drawings by your kids. You found the perfect area rug — large enough for your dining room with the perfect shade of red that matches your chair cushions. On your windowsills, tiny potted plants are proudly on display and you tend them daily.

How can someone else picture raising their family in a home that is filled with you and your style? The goal is to have potential buyers imagining themselves seated in the adorable breakfast nook with their art adorning the walls.

Imagine you walk into a house with a gigantic statue in the middle of the living room. What will you notice first — the beautifully redone kitchen or the gigantic statue in the middle of the living room?

Obviously not everyone has a statue in the middle of their living room, but almost everyone has something buyers would SEE as a gigantic statue — something that’s just so hard to look past. The problem is everyone is different. One person’s statue is another person’s statement décor.

As a buyer, it’s important to identify things that are just “statues” that might bother you but are easily remedied — bright paint on the walls, old light fixtures, an overgrown lawn. However, these types of things, along with a seller’s strong personal décor, can overwhelm a buyer. The longer a home stays on market, the lower the sales price is likely to be. Why not reduce the number of “statues” in your home, and make it easy for buyers to fall in love with your home immediately?

Rather than have everything in your home represent you and the life you have built in it, we suggest depersonalizing and creating a “blank canvas” for someone to feel like it could become their home. This can be a difficult process, so having a couple of other sets of eyes is important. Your realtor can come in and give the first round of advice and then bring in a stager with the expertise to transform your home into the next buyer’s blank canvas. We are happy to help at any point in your planning process!

For a professional, confidential evaluation of your home, please call or text us at 703-244-6115 for a no-obligation assessment of your home. We have a Dream Team of experts — contractors, staging advisors, photographers and more — to help make the right preparations, minimize stress and maximize profits!

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. She and her mother, Kim Peele, are The Peele Group, serving Virginia and D.C. They are dedicated to helping owners through the challenges of selling their home.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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