Did you know that only 10% of buyers can visualize a home’s potential? That means if you are selling a vacant home, only 90% of buyers touring your home will be able to imagine themselves living there. That is a lot of offers that are not coming your way because a large percentage of viewers aren’t sure that the master will fit their king bed or the family room will have enough room to comfortably seat their family.
As a home stager, and likely part of the 10% who is good at visualizing spaces, my own house shopping experience played out this reality. We purchased a house that was built in 1947 a few years ago. The latest upgrades happened in the ’70s (the kitchen- eek!), and the '80s (FLORAL, hand-painted tile for the fireplace surround-oh dear!) when we purchased it. In the past four years, we built an addition, put in a new kitchen, replaced floors, repainted every wall, installed new lights.. the list goes on. However, when I toured the house, I knew it was exactly what we were looking for. I met with a contractor before putting in an offer and made sure that the additions for the kitchen and master suite would be doable. I saw the potential of the home, and couldn’t wait to make it our family home.
I had no problem seeing the home’s potential, even though other potential buyers overlooked it for years (it sat on the market for a while, and then was rented for 3 years, and then became ours with zero competition). And do you know what I hear from friends over and over again? “Wow, I can’t believe what you’ve done to the place! I didn’t see this home’s potential when you first bought it!” Want to read more about why vacant homes are challenging to sell?
There is a reason I became a home stager. I love houses! It is not uncommon for me to come home from work raving about the most recent home I have to stage because I get so excited about how great the home is! I can’t help but see all that the home has to offer, and I get the biggest thrill out of seeing furniture and decor bring the vision in my head to life.
A few weeks ago I had the insanely fun job of staging an amazing home that has been sitting on the market since August. It was built in 1987, and the last owner lived there for 30 years. Before going on the market, new gorgeous, wood floors were put in, fresh sod was laid in the yard, and the heating and air conditioning got an overhaul. Those are some incredibly valuable upgrades. It has a dated kitchen and bathrooms that need a boost, but all I could see was an incredible family home. Even so, in its vacant state, it has sat...and sat...and sat. The feedback? Odd layout.
Is it a layout like every new house built in suburbia? No, however, it does offer the amenities that those new floor plans are desired for. Open sight lines from the kitchen to family room? Check. Wide open spaces? Check. Master with en-suite? Check. A TON OF SPACE?? Check. Check. Check. Buyers just couldn’t see it because it was different. Take a look at some of the before pictures:
Now let us look at the after. The first impression gets an immediate boost by welcoming buyers with a formal living room. In my personal world (as a mom with little kids and too many toys), I ADORE a formal living room. In my home, it is our adult space. A place to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend after the kids are in bed, or an impressive space to host cocktail parties. I also use mine for book club and baby showers. It is the room that always looks nice and has zero toys or baby gear. This goes for my dining room as well. As I walk from the bedrooms to our kitchen, which isn’t always in the most orderly condition, I have this lovely breath of fresh air and a feeling of space in my formal living and dining areas. I like to give the same feeling to the formal living and dining rooms I stage. Yes, they are inviting and comfortable, but they are also the place for ADULT beverages. Notice the bar cart!
For this home, after the staging, the long room suddenly now has a purpose! Three purposes to be exact! Beautiful places to hang out or entertain in, and a killer family space that goes out to a fantastic backyard! I mean, what’s not to love?! Additionally, the kitchen had plenty of the room for a stylish breakfast nook. The space in the kitchen is what really stood out to me! It is functional and perfectly maintained, and my goal with staging this space is for buyers to realize the potential while also feeling that there isn’t a rush to update it to the latest trend.
Let’s move on to the master!! It is the perfect size with plenty of closet space. Double vanity and separate shower and toilet room. Granted the safety shower/tub needs to be replaced, but that’s an easy fix, as long as the new homeowner is happy with everything else the master en-suite has to offer.
You can only really see how big that master bedroom is after a king bed is in the space! It’s huge!
Now let’s talk about the best part!!! After this home sat on the market for 96 days without a single contract - even a HOT selling market! - it went under contract 19 days after staging! Even in the slow-selling season around the holidays. The sellers were ecstatic! How do you think staging affected the way buyers viewed the space?