You made the decision to sell your home and you have a laundry list of people to call. You know you need to find a real estate agent, handyman and more but you’ve also heard about home staging. Who do you call first?

Call the Home Stager First

Why call the home stager first? For a number of reasons, but first and foremost, if you are interviewing agents, you want to hear how much your house could sell for, right? So it needs to look its best BEFORE the agent shows up. The person who does this is a home stager.

Laundry list of to-dos

When you have a consultation with a home stager, they will go through each room and determine¬†what needs to be changed to help you sell your home. My personal philosophy is not to spend more that you need to, but still¬†make it look move-in ready. For example, I would not recommend putting in granite counter tops in a $100,000 home because most homes at that price don’t have them. A home stager will make recommendations based on your area and the price point of your home.

A home stager can also have a list of resources when they do make recommendations to your home. They probably know a painter, landscaper, plumber or others if those types of updates are needed. While you may have your own to-do list, you can ask those questions to the home stager and see if those changes are really needed.

Home Stager vs Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent does the pricing, marketing, and showings of your home plus a whole lot of paperwork to get your house sold. A home stager does all the prep work in the house to hand it over to the agent. Sometimes agents have home stagers as part of their team but not always. I’ve been asked many times what the house should be priced, but I tell homeowners I am not qualified to tell them that. I don’t do the price comparisons that agents do to find their figures. Each party has its own set of skills. Use them to the max.

If you show the home “as-is” to the real estate agent, the agent can certainly price it but it may not be as high as you would like. If you make the changes before they show up, then can already see and compare it to other houses in the area. The agent will be able to tell you there are no other houses with a finished basement like yours or updated features in similar homes. This will give you a leg up on the competition and will be priced higher because it looks move-in ready.

My previous house was a common Colonial home in Virginia. It was also a common floor plan among the houses in the neighborhood. However, over the years we had updated several rooms in the home. One particular room that hadn’t been updated was the master bath. It was dated with old fixtures but we knew we could not afford a full bathroom remodel. A month before we put the house on the market, we ended up replacing the counter tops, lighting, plumbing fixtures and mirrors to give it a mini-face lift. Since all the other rooms were updated in the house, the fact that the master bath was still living in the 1970s was an eye-sore. We all know kitchens and baths sell a house and this was the final thing that had to be done to complete the look of an updated Colonial home. Now the real estate agent could price it and reflect all the updates in the house. In the end, our house sold in 4 days and ABOVE asking price.

Here are some before and after pictures so you can see what it looked like before we updated it and after. Had we left the bathroom as-is, we probably would not have gotten a full-price offer because of the work that had to be done in the master bath. Buyers would have thought it would cost a lot of money to update a master bathroom and would have low-balled their offer to make up the cost.

Below is another example of leaving a home “as-is”. The homeowners were never happy with the yellow color on the walls but had no idea what color to paint it and were open to the idea of picking another color. I suggested using Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore and the homeowners decided to use it in the whole house not just the lower level. This neutral warm beige color helped set the background for the furniture.

In addition to the wall color change, the homeowners were a military couple and had to move out of the house with all their belongings before putting it on the market. Since we know vacant homes takes twice as long to sell, we opted to rent furniture for some of the rooms. If we used the homeowners furniture, we could have made it work but the sectional was extremely large for the living room space. I picked out a living room and dining room set that still showed off the space and used accessories to make it feel like home.

In the pictures below, you can see what it would have looked like if the realtor saw it before it was painted and staged. The house was sold 2 weeks later because again it was move-in ready and the realtor focused on marketing and showings. The after photo was taken by RoxieB Photography.

In the end, ask yourself what do you really want to get out of your home? You want to price it so that you are happy with the asking price. Sometimes that requires some work to get it ready and a home stager can help you first. They can help you prioritize your work and sometimes even line up the necessary contractors. When it comes time to sell your home, talk to a home stager so you can put your best foot forward and then have the real estate agent work on the marketing aspect it to get it sold!