House vs. Home: Staging the WOW Factor

House vs. Home: Staging the “WOW FACTOR.”

One of the most important steps that every homeowner must take when s/he is ready to sell is actually much more difficult then it sounds: The home owner must become a house seller.
The title change while simple – home to house, owner to seller — is a difficult and emotional transition. But if a seller can make the shift, step back and look at his/her home as the buyer, the sell-success story can become a tale of grand proportions. The statistics prove it; numbers don’t lie. Why? Because when you, the seller, have the buyer’s vision in mind, i.e. when you see your home through the buyer’s eyes, then the buyer will see how your house can be his/her home.

You can do this by staging your home.

You need to show the buyer that memories and stories live inside the walls. While telling your visual story of how you have enjoyed living there, how they made it your home, it is also imperative that your house not look “lived in,” i.e. warn out. The buyer needs to be assured that while your house holds good memories, there will be room to soak up the memories they plan to make there as well.
You can do this by staging your home.
While it’s tempting to sell your home “as is,” staging is the edge that can secure your asking price. In fact, staging is far more important than the number of bedrooms and baths; it’s even more important than the year in which the home was built. If you can present your home with clean and uncluttered living spaces you will have garnered for yourself the important tool in the real estate manual. Sellers who take the extra step and introduce to their home the “WOW FACTOR” that buyers are seeking, always get the best price in the shortest time frame.

Here are some 2013 “WOW FACTOR” staging tips from our experts:

Grab Buyers From The Curb
Attract the interest of potential buyers while they are still pulling up to the curb in front of you home. Buyers won’t see that fabulous new kitchen or bath if you house has no curb appeal.
• Mow the lawn, weed/mulch gardens and keep the two neatly edged.  
• Remove any ivy or climbing vines from the exterior of the home. 
• Paint the front door in a color that complements the home.
• Change out any dated or rusted door hardware.
• Plant colorful flowers in garden beds or in pots.
• Buy a welcoming mat for the front door and add a pretty swag or seasonal wreath.
• Paint or stain your old mailbox, or purchase a new one.

Create Space

When everything is immaculate and in its place, even the smallest home can make a grand impression.
• Let your architecture take center stage by removing any unnecessary clutter, furnishings or belongings that draw attention from your home’s “bones.”
• Arrange knickknacks in odd groupings such as 3, 5 or 7 and keep like-items together to form a collection.
• Arrange furniture in vignettes to create conversation areas. This has a dual purpose: not only does it look inviting, but pulling furniture into clusters allows for a free flow of traffic and makes every room feel spacious. 
• Use smaller sofas and chairs to make your primary rooms look larger.

Paint in neutral shades:

We love lime green, too, but neutral paint colors make rooms appear bright and spacious. We recommend a two-tone paint finish: off-white walls with a bright white ceiling. Here are some specific choices to consider:
o Duron’s Navajo White (SW6126)
o Creamy (SW7012)
o Antique White (SW6119)
o Benjamin Moore’s White Dove
o Brite White ceiling paint

 Add color accents.

Neutral paint doesn’t mean boring especially when pillows, rugs, tasteful collections and artwork can add colorful impact without overpowering the architecture.
• Put bright light bulbs into every light fixture: lamps, overhead lighting, under cabinet lighting, and bathrooms.
• Replace your outlet hardware with new larger-scaled wood covers; this, too, provides an instant update to the interior.

The staging of two key rooms: The Kitchen and Dining Room


The kitchen is the epicenter of the 21st Century home; therefore, you must be ruthless about de-cluttering your kitchen. Even if even the buyer isn’t “good in the kitchen,” it is the most important room in your home. The kitchen is the room that sells the house, so …
• Show your kitchen as a functional workplace with a sense of style.
• Clean up the storage space. Buyers will open your cabinets, your pantry and drawers to see how much room there is. Therefore:
o Organize using this little known trick of the trade: Turn all coffee cup handles to face in the same direction. Buyers will notice and think you are meticulous about how you keep and have kept up your entire home.
o Box up and store pots, pans, utensils or dishes that you rarely use.
o Donate to food banks canned goods that you know you are never going to use.
• Clean up the refrigerator, inside and out.
o We love kids artwork too; but, instead of using the refrigerator as your art gallery, buy some inexpensive frames and put the masterpieces behind glass. Show off the collection on a sideboard or bookcase. Then “demagnetize” the refrigerator by removing everything from the surface of the appliance.
o Make sure to wipe down the shelves inside the fridge and organize the items. Buyers will open the fridge and they will be “impressed” by a clean space.
• Paint: If your kitchen opens up into a family room or dining area, paint both rooms using the same colors; or, paint one room a shade lighter or darker. This design trick allows the eye to flow from one room to the next creating a connection that is open and spacious.

The Dining Room: 

Although they often go unused, homebuyers still prefer a floor plan with a dining room. Here are some ways to enhance a smaller formal dining room: 
• Take the leaves out of the table so that there is plenty of space to walk around the table.
• Use a maximum of four chairs at the table. Remove the others from the room and store them. Do not line them up against the wall because that just eats up space and gives the room a cluttered feeling.
• If you have a large china cabinet with a top and a bottom, remove the top and use the bottom as a server. This will visually open up the space.

We have now come full circle from the our first tip, “Grab buyers from the curb.” Here’s one last tip: serious buyers almost always start their home search online. When they come out to see your house, they are likely seeing it for the second time. So make it look good for their first impression, in a photograph. If you stage your home for photographs your home will show better. Remember the fundamental rule of real estate sales: Do not waste an opportunity to show a potential buyer how your house could be their home!

Call or e-mail us for more of our 2013 expert advice and staging tips. We have staging tips for every room in the house, even your garage and garden.

About Brad Rozansky

Licensed for 35 years in Maryland, DC and Virginia. Recognized among the Top Real Estate Teams in the United States by The Wall Street Journal from 2008 to the present. Now working with our second generation of home buyers and sellers!

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