The L.A. Times’ Real Estate section this weekend carried this story about home “staging,” where a company comes in and essentially transforms your home’s interior to a model home’s. For example, here’s a Silver Lake home a company called Moving Mountains Design staged, before:
Michelle Minch, the owner of Pasadena-based Moving Mountains Design & Home Staging, and her crew staged a vacant California-cottage-style home in Silver Lake, finishing up around 5 p.m. on the Thursday before Christmas. She planned on coming back the next day with a few more throw pillows for the window seat, but the listing agent had scheduled three showings for that morning. Before Minch and the extra throw pillows could arrive, the sellers had a full-price offer. Days on market: one — in what was the slowest December sales market in about a decade. The house sold for $1,442,500 without making it into the Multiple Listing Service.
So, what’s the catch? Well, it’s not free: The above staging cost $7,000, including two months’ worth of rental furniture for the entire house and a guest house. But depending on how much you’re selling your house for, it could certainly prove to be worth the money.
If you just can’t see yourself parting with that kind of dough, there are still things you can do to improve your chances. There’s a reason model homes look the way they do. The more your house looks like a model, the better your chances of enticing buyers.
1) Get rid of the clutter. In model homes, there are no overflowing closets, junky garages, dusty knick-knacks. Put your cra…. I mean, stuff, in storage.
2) Clean. Model homes are spotless. After you de-clutter, have a pro come in and scour the place. Don’t forget about carpets and windows.
3) Deodorize. Replace smoke and pet odors with pleasant fragrances. Try dabbing some vanilla extract on your light bulbs. Turn on your lights, and your house will smell like fresh-baked cookies.
4) Freshen. New, neutral paint can do wonders for your home’s appearance. Add some bouquets, candles, artwork and other accessories to make rooms look more inviting.
5) Re-cover. Hide worn furniture with fresh slipcovers, a la “Trading Spaces.”
6) Rearrange and remove. Arrange your furnishings to create an open yet intimate space. If you have too much furniture, see #1.
7) Be critical. How would you react when entering your house for the first time? If it’s with anything less than unbridled enthusiasm, you need to do more. In this market, homes need to impress.