Setting the stage: Why details are important when selling a home

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 25, 2015

METRO DETROIT — In William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” the revered poet and playwright said that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

More than 400 years later, that quote can be attributed to something more traditional and commonplace: interior design and real estate.

Home staging is arguably more popular than it’s ever been before. The process of preparing a home to make it more appealing to potential buyers has become vital to those who sell homes.

For decades, the responsibility fell to the homeowners to make sure their abodes looked presentable during viewings. After the recession of 2008, selling homes became more of a chore and the market turned toward the buyers.

That market, in turn, made the little things that much more important.

Corie Conroy, a professional home staging consultant from First Impression Home Staging and Interior Design LLC in Bloomfield Hills, said that according to the National Association of Realtors, the way a home is staged influences 81 percent of home buyers. Creating visual appeal makes potential buyers more inclined to stay and investigate what a house has to offer.

“It takes 10 seconds for a buyer to walk into a home and make up their mind whether they can live there,” Conroy said. “They can visualize themselves living in that home and imagine their families living there.”

Conroy, a former real estate agent, said that staging a home presents it in its best light, which in turn leads to a quicker sale and more money in the seller’s pockets.

She highlighted five tips that instantly improve home appeal: depersonalizing the home and hiding family-oriented items like wedding photos; organizing closets and drawers to form a more presentable home, as well as showing off storage space; creating a focal point where each room serves a purpose to potential buyers; using neutral colors that are not unusually vibrant or unorthodox in the general marketplace; and sanitizing the entire home to give it that shiny new look.

While all people possess different tastes, sellers must focus on appeasing the wants and needs of buyers and not themselves.

“I think if your home isn’t clean, it’s going to detract a buyer from even buying a house,” she said. “If they walk in and smell last night’s dinner and can’t even relate to that smell, it’s going to turn people off.”

Madelyn Ward, a residential Realtor with Hall and Hunter Realtors in Birmingham, said a house should welcome people inside. Neutralization is important because it gives anyone the impression that they could live in a particular home.

“Instead of making it someone else’s home, you want to make it available to everyone,” Ward said.

That can be accomplished through simple staging methods, like maximizing space or configuring furniture so others perceive a room a certain way.

Melinda Allen, a professional home stager with Stage Right, has been involved with staging services for several years. Whether it’s helping sellers with marketing photos that go online on real estate websites, or just making sure the environment is pristine and shows off the best parts of a home, staging is popular for a reason.

“Most of the buyers do not have that vision to see the potential in the property, so if things are edited out or decluttered or made more neutral, it’s far more attractive,” Allen said. “Not staging your property only helps you sell your competition. How you live in it is one way and how you sell is another.”

Allen believes staging is as popular as ever because buyers pay more attention to details now, especially with the advent of TV channels like HGTV.

On an hourly basis, Allen said many stagers charge $150-$350 depending on location and home value.

“It is money well-spent,” she said. “Just having a professional take another set of eyes to look at your property benefits your pockets with more money when the house sells.”

At the end of the day, a home stager is a tool that can drive market value and aid in what can be a tumultuous selling process.

“Seventy percent of buyers see pictures on the Internet or drive by before calling a Realtor; if the pictures look bad, they won’t even call the Realtor,” Conroy said. “Make sure things are set up properly and excitement occurs during the open house.”