Preparing a Home for the Kansas City Buyer

If you've ever hired a professional photographer to help sell a home, then you understand the importance of visual presentation.  Although professional photographs can certainly help get potential buyers in the door, they are much more effective when paired with complimentary visual elements, like home staging.

I recently came across a great article by Elizabeth Weintraub of thebalance.com on the fine details of staging a home:

“Staging is what you do after you've cleaned, decluttered, painted, made minor repairs; it's all about dressing the house for sale.

It's about adding the small details: the lipstick, mascara and, for simplicity, a stunning, single strand of Tahitian pearls.”

 A simple staged bedroom at a recent shoot in Lake Lotawana for RootedKC Design & Realty.

A simple staged bedroom at a recent shoot in Lake Lotawana for RootedKC Design & Realty.

Elizabeth hits the nail on the head.  If you already have a professional photographer come and photograph the properties you're listing then that’s great!  Quality photography makes a real difference, and is an effective way of reeling in potential buyers.

However, photography is only one piece of the visual pie, since a beautifully photographed home that is not presented well will not do nearly as well as a home that's perfectly presented inside and out.

To have a home that is visually well-rounded and ready to draw in the sale, Elizabeth illustrates:

“Professional stagers are highly skilled artists. They can take a blank canvas and paint a sensuous portrait without ever lifting a paint brush. Stagers possess the skills of a top-level designer and they create dramatic scenery that appeals to all five senses.”

Buyers are looking for a place to call home, not just a space with four walls.  To help them envision themselves in a home, Elizabeth suggests the following tricks of the trade:

  • Arrange sparse pieces of furniture in an appealing grouping known as a vignette
  • Showcase a generous usage of soft fabrics such as silk, lambswool, satin
  • Display unusual knickknacks in units of 1, 3 or 5
  • Drape window coverings with simple lines
  • Add unique elements to shelving, bookcases and fireplace mantels, which draw attention to predetermined areas

Let's walk through a potential buying scenario.

The Miller's and the Brady's are both selling their homes in Regency Park in Overland Park, Kansas.  Both homes were built in the 1960s, both feature four bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

The Miller's home is relatively free of clutter, but with two young kids the furnishings are a little beat up and there are toys strewn through most rooms. Their agent always does their own photos on their phone, the lighting and color are a little off as the phone can't expose for both light and dark areas of a room in a single image, and they look like they were taken in a hurry.

The Brady family also has two children, but they have chosen to use a professional home stager to prepare their home, who brought it some staging furniture and mixed it with their personal furniture. The main living and dining areas, basement seating, and master bedroom look practically brand new; with unique accent pieces, decorative cushions, and beautiful chairs. The agent complimented this with one of the area's best photographers to get properly lit, bright, wide angle images of each room.

Both the Miller and Brady homes are going on the market in March, and both are listed around $215,000.

Which home do you think is going to bring in more potential buyers – will it be the Miller home, which is presented in a very average sort of way with poor photos, or the Brady home, which is carefully staged and draws in the eye with amazing photography?

Clearly the Brady home is going to do much better, which further shows the value home staging and professional photography have when it come to the time a home spends on the market.

So what's next?

Tips for staging a home to sell:

Hiring a professional stager is ideal, but if that is not an option then there are still several things that can be done to prepare a home to sell.

Here are some staging tips from Houzz.com's Laura Gaskill:

Tip #1: Boost curb appeal - "Power wash side and walkways, add some fresh greenery & clean windows."

Tip #2: "Welcome visitors with an inviting porch – Replace doormat with a fresh 'Welcome' mat, and leave porch lights on at night for potential buyers driving by."

Tip #3: "Clean up – This is the most basic step.  Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, every area should sparkle."

Tip #4: "Clear out clutter – If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story."

Tip #5: "Rearrange furniture – In the living room, symmetrical arrangements usually work well. Pull your furniture off the walls and use pairs (of sofas, chairs, lamps) to create an inviting conversation area."

 Here, Lanie from RootedKC demonstrates the use of 1s, 3s and 5s in this bedroom setup.

Here, Lanie from RootedKC demonstrates the use of 1s, 3s and 5s in this bedroom setup.

Tip #6: "Paint and use neutral tones – Now is not the time to experiment with that "fun"-looking lime green. But that doesn't mean you need to go all white, either. Rich midtone neutrals like mocha and 'greige' create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look more pulled together."

Tip #7: "Use 'extra' rooms wisely – Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Another kid's room?”

 It’s important to remember if we don’t have a perfectly staged home while we are still living there, it's not a bad thing – we live in our homes and that’s ok. However, when it’s time to sell then we need to view it as no longer a home, but as an item that needs to be sold. Taking the time to optimally present the home can have a huge impact on potential buyers walking through the doors, and ultimately the final sale price.