Help Me Hank: Staging your home

DETROIT – When it comes to selling your home, it’s all in the details -- and getting those details right could mean big payoffs for home sellers. Home staging can increase the number of interested buyers and bids, and reduces a home’s time on the market.

Staging 101

Staging is the art of depersonalizing, decluttering and redecorating spaces. Increasingly, realtors and buying agents are turning to professional stagers to increase the appeal of their listings.

"What we’re trying to do is merchandise this home to the masses so it appeals to the greatest number of buyers," said Impact Home Staging Experts owner Darla Rowley. "We want to make sure that it feels balanced and interesting and welcoming, but not overdone."

Rowley works on more than 300 homes a year. Her team starts by taking a critical look at each property. She makes note of color schemes, floor plans and permanent fixtures that she will have to work around.

"When you stage a home you’re really looking at the scale of the rooms so the furniture that you select has to be appropriate for the scale," Rowley said. "Once you go in and add the artwork and the accessories … play in that same color scheme … it actually feels up-to-date and fresh and it really helps tie it all together."

Does it work?

Over two-thirds of buyer agents agree that staging makes it easier for a buyer to visualize a home, according to a National Association of Realtors survey.

Recruiting a professional stager can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $2,600, according to Rowley. It’s an up-front investment that is recouped by increased buyer interest that drives up price point, and ultimately, a quicker close.

"Almost 50 percent of all agents agree that you’re going to get about 1 percent to 15 percent more on your ultimate sales price if you do stage the property," Rowley said.

She shared a her DIY tips to get your home listing-ready.

Declutter and Depersonalize

Around 93 percent of real estate agents say that the first step is decluttering.  When in doubt, throw it out. Too much stuff is overwhelming. You also need to remove any personal touches to make the space more universally likable.

"If (you) have multiple design things going on in the house, if you take those pieces out, all of the sudden the pieces will feel more cohesive," Rowley said. "We want to make sure it’s not overly cluttered so they see (the room) and not your stuff.”

Where to start

Experts agree that it’s most important to stage the living room if nothing else. Conscientiously positioning furniture helps buyers imagine if their own sofas and chairs will fit in the space.

The kitchen is also key. Rowley adds place settings, cookbooks, plants and silverware arrangements to the island and table.

Dining spaces need to be elegant, simple and functional. In her latest staging project, Rowley kept the space minimal, setting just a plant with a mat onto the dining table.

Less is more

Rowley recommended a less-is-more approach. To nail the first impression, focus on accenting the focal point in each room. It’s not important to decorate an entire room, but instead, to draw attention to central fixtures like a fireplace.

"Where is the money shot going to be?" Rowley said. "We don’t do every single wall in a room. It gives the realtor camera angles for the perfect MLS (multiple listing service) photo."

Tall vertical accessories like vases, pottery and house plants can help. They add interest to a room and give dimension to photos.

More tips to try:

  • Deep-clean the entire home
  • Clean your carpets
  • Remove pets during showings
  • Make minor repairs
  • Landscape
  • Paint walls a neutral color
  • Touch up wall paint in worn areas
  • Take professional photos of your home
  • Fix grouting
  • To assess if your home is listing-ready, take Rowley’s quiz here.