When realtor Bianca Mitchell's clients were ready to put their home up for sale in the competitive West Los Angeles real estate market, they wanted to avoid hiring a home staging company. The firms specialize in redecorating to sell but can also run in the thousands of dollars. The clients decided instead, with a little help from Bianca, to DIY.
"A quick first step to learning about staging a house should be checking out the competition," Bianca says. “On the Westside of L.A., house staging is very important. I showed my clients examples of great staging jobs so that they’d have an idea of what they are up against and what they needed to do to be competitive in such a high-end market.”
She advises her clients to get a consultation, even if they aren't planning on using a stager. “It usually costs just a few hundred dollars, as opposed to the thousands to use their full services,” says Bianca. “Take notes! They will show you everything they would suggest to make your home sale ready.
Bianca suggests also doing a little homework on Pinterest and home-decorating blogs to get inspiration for design. In her clients’ case, they already had a great sense of style and put it to work upgrading and buying furniture for their new home that they were able to use temporarily to stage the one they were selling. They were lucky that the furniture worked in both spaces, allowing them to save money by not renting furniture just for staging.
Fixing up areas of wear and tear is also a must. “You have to pay attention to details in order to get top dollar,” Bianca says “Make sure everything works; paint rooms neutral colors; touch up wood floors; remove carpet if necessary; redo the landscaping.”
For Bianca’s clients, hiring all the contractors themselves to do the fixing, painting and landscaping cost a lot less than hiring a professional stager.
When it’s show time, a few more details can turn a home into a buyer’s dream house. “Set tables with place settings; put out fresh flowers; set up office equipment in an office space; put fresh white towels in bathrooms, etc.,” she says. “It makes it much easier for buyers to understand what spaces are meant to be used for and start imagining it as their new home.”
Decluttering and removing personal items is also important so the home appears clean and fresh. “Rent a storage space. Store it in the garage, or if you have a new home or lease already, move it there,” suggests Bianca.
And don’t forget to remove valuables and medications. Surprisingly, the most common theft during an open house is prescription drugs!
For pet owners, it’s best to take Fido and Kitty elsewhere when the home is being shown. "Use air fresheners or candles to diffuse the pet smells,” says Bianca.
Lastly, photography for the home’s listing and information sheet is one area you don’t want to DIY. “Hire a professional photographer. First impressions are everything to buyers!”
Photos courtesy of Bianca Mitchell.