Stage to Sell – 12 Things that make a BIG Difference

By Davis Driver,

Saguaro Forest Spec Home Rendering (Listing ID 5260571)

Saguaro Forest Spec Home Rendering (Listing ID 5260571)

There are many things to consider when listing your home. The two most important are having the home show as attractively as possible through proper “staging” and to have it priced correctly. If you want the price to be based on your mortgage balance, an online home value estimate, or warm and fuzzy feelings about how much you have loved your home, you need to set these motivations aside.   There’s only one right way to price a home and that’s to figure out what buyers are willing to pay for it based on cold, hard facts. One would think that these two totally common sense goals would be followed religiously by sellers. We can assure that they are not, and the consequences can be dramatic.

Two quick case studies:

# 1 – One of our recent listings was a great house with a superior location, but the owners had painted it originally with dark faux paint, a relatively big “No No” as far as current market preferences go. The home also had some older carpet in some public areas. Ann Driver, of The Davis Driver Group, herself an experienced interior designer, convinced the sellers to re-paint with a light neutral shade and replace some of the carpet with fresh and fashionable hardwood flooring. And, she found a professional furniture staging company who came in after the re-painting was done and flooring was down to furnish the major rooms. The client spent about $40,000, to get the house into the condition we recommended. We also suggested, as is our standard practice, a list price well-grounded in recent sales, adjusted within reason based on the current competition. This “reality based pricing”, coupled with proper staging, resulted in four offers at one time just days after being listed, a genuine bidding war, and a sale that was $121,000 over list price.

# 2 – On another listing, the owner of another well-built, well-located home that he had lovingly created a dozen years earlier, ignored our initial pricing recommendations and asked us to take the listing at a very high price. The home was beautiful in most every respect but did have a relatively dark interior, accentuated with a lot of heavy museum quality “old world” furnishings. We went ahead and took the listing at his price, figuring that if the market told us it was too high, we’d be able to convince the owner to reduce the price. The feedback from numerous showings was that the home was too dark, but the seller, in love with his creation, refused to make any changes, in spite of the fact that there was no chance they would remain in the home. In the end, the home sold for just 58% of his original list price after being on the market for about 1,300 days. We won’t make the mistake again of taking an overpriced listing, and hopefully, the seller will listen to his agents the next time he has a home to sell.

In addition to price, here are eleven other things to think of as you prepare your home for sale:

  • Ask yourself who your target audience is; young families, empty nesters, professionals? This will help a lot when staging your home.


  • Curb Appeal – This is the first thing buyers see…the drive-by can make or break their decision as to whether or not to set an appointment to see more of your home. Make sure your yard is trimmed, weeded and free of toys and debris. Adding some freshly potted flowers and power washing the sidewalk, porch and driveway is a great idea as well.


  • Clean! Clean! Clean! – If you went into a store and it was dirty would you want to buy anything? Most would say “No!”. Everything will be under close inspection, so grab the mop and “spring clean” like you’ve never done before. Clear out the clutter to showcase the home instead of your things. Cupboards will be opened, closets will be scrutinized and even the faintest odor of a cat will determine the placement of your home as a “potential purchase”. Your home should have a neutral smell so at any moment it is ready to show.


  • Set the Mood – What this really means is let in the light and neutralize the pallet of colors. It is great if you love bold colors, but it is a good idea to tone them down if you want to make a good impression on the widest number of buyers. Doing this will give buyers the opportunity to see themselves living there and imagine their furnishings in your space. Keep your drapes and blinds open for maximum natural lighting.


  • Take Yourself Out of the Picture – We touched on this a little with getting rid of the clutter but this takes it a step further. Removing family photos, awards, collections/collectibles and excessive electronics will help the efforts of creating a neutral pallet for potential buyers and gives them the chance to visualize their own treasures in the home. Think of it as a way to get a head start on packing for your new home!


  • Consider Replacing or Removing Furniture – Do you have some pieces that went beyond “eclectic” a long time ago and now just look plain tired? Possibly extra pieces? Sometimes just rearranging can do wonders for a space; however buyers first need to be able to at least see the space. Remove extra pieces to give them a chance to see what your home has to offer. Alternatively, look into renting some furniture to give your space a fresh new feel.


  • Invest in New Artwork – This can really appeal to your target audience and breathe new life into a room.


  • Fix the “Honey Do’s” – You know that list that just keeps getting longer? The one with “fix the squeaky door”, “replace light switch and outlet covers”, and “replace broken screen”? This is a good time to get these items done. Potential buyers do not want to be burdened with extra tasks when they first move in…making sure you have a “Honey Do Free Zone” will speak clearly to your buyers.


  • Fresh Paint – Get a lot of bang for your buck with this one. Refresh dull, dated or personalized colors with a neutral beige or taupe paint. This requires a low monetary investment and with a weekend warrior attitude, it will pay off in the end.


  • How are Your Floors? – Refinishing hardwood, replacing broken tiles or replacing worn out carpeting is key in the sale of your home. Keep the carpeting neutral and floors fresh.


  • Replace Dated Fixtures – If the fixtures are older than you are or just plain tacky then they simply must go. If your fixtures are current, then give them a good cleaning by removing dead bugs, dust and webs that collect over time.

Are you ready to sell? We’re ready to list!

Happy Selling,

Davis and Ann Driver