D.I.Y. Staging

Sellers definitely see the value in a broker who will take the time to stage, because a lot of brokers want the seller to do
it on their own. Staging is not a trend, but rather a mandatory asset to have in your marketing strategy for any listing; it results in shorter market times and better prices. I stage properties myself and include the cost of staging in my fee. Plus, I enjoy it as a creative outlet – it’s fun! You want just enough staging – you don’t want to overdo it. I like simple and Zen; less is more, and it shows better online, too. You need just enough big pieces and accessories for clients to come in and say, oh I get the space and how I could live here. Staging is particularly important for empty listings. Vacant space is crazy, so anything vacant, I insist on staging. We recently staged a one bedroom apartment, and in three days, got multiple offers. When it’s staged, there’s a huge difference in market times. Potential buyers can look at the stuff and see where things fit. When it’s empty, they’ll occasionally say it looks bigger, but it’s less likely to capture their interest. You want the space to feel warm, light, airy, pretty. We accentuate the positives, and the staging helps it feel homier and more comfortable. We’ve had success staging rental properties, too. After we staged it, a recent listing went for $200 more per month than the ask. Then, when the client is ready to sell, they can put that money back into the property to do some necessary upgrades to get a better price. And it’s not just vacant spaces. I stage homes that people are still in with props. I help them declutter and accessorize. We move around furniture, tweak it. It makes a huge difference just to refresh the space. If they have the wrong furniture in a room or an odd arrangement, we’ll rearrange or add to it. Staging is particularly successful for selling weird floorplans. You can show where to put the dining room table, where to put the TV. It helps to soothe potential objections. Most sellers go with it now. There’s very little pushback. If they want a certain number that’s unrealistic unless we stage it, I tell them that they have to do the work, and we try to move it along with some staging.

The Living Room

A little seating area with coffee table and accessories is relatively easy to set up. The coolest accessory is my fake plasma TV from Proptronics. It’s the smartest thing, because the visual is lively, it adds color and art, but it’s a fake TV. Everyone always asks, where am I going to put the TV? And now 
you can show them.

The Bedroom

Installing a queen-size bed in the space shows off the size – you could have a giant four poster king here, because the queen is just swimming in it. We stage smaller bedrooms for the same reason. If you can show that a queen mattress fits, then there are fewer objections to the size. We typically do a very simple, generic set-up. Keeping the furniture to a minimum – bed, nightstands, lamps and maybe a dresser – means it can be done easily and quickly. We love the bed in a bag, because it doesn’t take up much storage space and it’s all-in-one. Keep it tasteful – no bold linens, no bright red or blue accents.

The Kitchen

If I have a client who has Formica or white appliances – and they’re willing to spend a little money to make a little money – we always insist on updating appliances. You’ll get more money, because it won’t look as tired. We’ll add a few barstools and some tchotchkes, like a fruit bowl, dishtowel and decorative jars with veggies in them. Simple, clean, but still styled.

The Bathroom

Little things like a towel, a plant, a rug and a shower curtain make a difference. It enhances the space, and it’s very Zen and spa-like. Jennifers_Tips_Header Get to Neutral People just can’t see past paint, ever. Anticipate Buyer Reaction It’s harder to convince buyers to do any work, because of price points and the difficulties of visualization. Be Prepared Have painter/appliance resources and a palette of neutrals ready to neutralize the space. Be an Asset I have the client pay for any work done, but I’ll middleman to make their life easier. Accessorize Groupings of little orchids and fake plants and vases add life and subtle color to the space. Mask Objections If there is an eyesore to cover, we’ll do window treatments like sheers, so you get light coming through, but block the objections. Keep it Simple If you’re staging a small home, the bare minimum is master bedroom, living room and kitchen. Show the Possibilities I also stage awkward floor plans and smaller bedrooms to show how things fit. Store Smarter Store pieces in your office – or, better yet, rotate them throughout your listings.

Where to Buy: The Big Stuff

  • Moving day leftovers
  • Family & friend hand-me-downs

Where to Buy: Accessories

Jennifer Mills Klatt 
of Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff has been staging listings on behalf of her clients for over twenty years. She includes the staging costs in her fee. Photos courtesy of ©Positive Image, Jennifer Mills Klatt and Jessica Kern, Chicago Association of REALTORS®