The Right Way to Go About Open House Staging
We are approaching the one month mark of having a House on the market. This is the point where one begins to go crazy. Neither my husband or I am very patient, which obviously makes matters worse. Every time we have a showing that doesn’t instantly procure an offer, we analyze and over-analyze everything we did prior to the appointment. Is it possible that something we’ve done during open house staging in an attempt to make our home more marketable has actually backfired? As I reflect on this question, I think about the homes that I’ve viewed and the open houses I’ve attended.
The Smooth Talker
One of the first houses I fell in love with –this time around– showed like a display home. The homeowners had great decor and taste, and I swooned at every detail. They had candles lit, soft Music playing in the background, freshly-baked cookies, all the tables were set and all the pillows were fluffed. Everything was perfect. The problem? I’m not in the market for candles or throw pillows. I’m looking for a house. In fact, everything they did expecting to make their house more marketable left a bad taste in my mouth. It made me question everything. What smells were they hiding with all the candles and cookies? Pet stains in the carpet or worse; mold in the walls. And the soft music they had playing for me? Who doesn’t love Adele, right? While I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think she’s amazing, it was honestly a bit distracting. It also made me wonder if they had annoyingly squeaky floors or if the laundry room was in a bad place for entertaining purposes. Maybe one of the toilets runs incessantly. Although none of these things alone are deal-breakers, as I sat and questioned whether it was the house or the music I liked, I began to realize more of the unlikable attributes of the home. I’m not sure I would have picked it apart in such a way had they just turned on all the lights and turned off all the music. All the unnecessary fluff made it feel as though the homeowners were trying to dupe us into buying a lemon with their emotionally-charged lullabies and the utilization of dim lights.
Besides, music can be very taste specific. My husband, for one, is a music snob who generally loathes anything mainstream. Make fun of him all you like (I do plenty!) but you could easily offend his picky ears even if you played something that you think is generally crowd-friendly. Scents can be just as polarizing, especially since it’s been proven that the sense of smell is most closely linked to the emotional parts of our brains. In fact, there’s an article in the New York Times referring to the nose as an “emotional time machine”–love that! Because you have no clue what emotional ties your buyers may have to any particular scent, clean and un-perfumed is your best bet. Save the candles and pillow sprays for your SO.
The Pee Pee Pirate
On the other side of the coin, don’t neglect the most basic of chores when you get the call from your realtor that someone wants to view your home. When we were looking for our current house years ago, we went into a home that had a similar price tag and square footage, but was immediately thrown into the “no” pile because of a teeny tiny bit of, sigh, pee pee on the potty. Even if the buyers only give you 20 minutes to get your house together, don’t worry about the toys on the floor or the unmade beds, but always make sure the bathrooms are clean.
Keeping your home in a fairly clean state while you’re on the market definitely helps. That way, if you do get called with little notice, you can quickly throw any dirty dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the counters and tables, and clean the bathrooms. Your home may not be completely perfect, but toys or clothes on the floor don’t usually elicit the same negative reaction as seeing someone else’s bathroom mess.
I’ve been inside several more homes, but I think you get the gist.
Breakdown of dos and don’ts (are those really words?)
DO: keep your house super clean. This one should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Remember the most important rooms first; kitchen and bathrooms!
DON’T: light candles or use a lot of air fresheners. It makes people wonder what you’re hiding, but could also dredge up other feelings.
DO: turn on all the lights.
DON’T: play music. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as music that everyone likes.
DO: open all curtain and blinds and unlock any gates or child-proof doors/drawers if at all possible.
DON’T: set the tables for showings. For pictures; great! For showings; it just looks desperate and a little too HGTV.
[ETA thanks to a great comment from Kelly] DO: box up your clothes you know you’re not going to wear much. It will make your closets look bigger if they’re not spilling over. And finally DO: remove family photos. Yes, your family is adorable, but give the buyers a chance to picture themselves living in the space.
Follow these tips when finishing up your open house staging, and you will be primed for the best results!
Good luck out there!