A few weeks ago we had an appointment with our realtor. Because in the six weeks we'd had the house on the market up to that point, there had been only one showing. That's not exactly rush hour, y'all.
1) We dropped the list price on our home by $20K. That was a big ouch, but after looking at the statistics from the local market, we knew it had to be done.
2) Our living room, which was mostly empty, needed some furniture. It is the first room you walk into as you enter the front door, and it was standing there devoid of furniture — and therefore also devoid of that homey-ness that you want prospective buyers to experience the second they walk into your house.
This is a key home staging issue, y'all. The rest of the house looked great — but that living room was just too bare. Of course people probably understand why you might not have furniture in a room; in our case it was because we thought it didn't make sense to invest in a living area's worth of furniture when we didn't know what the living area would be like in the house we would be moving into after this one. But in the current housing market, the listed home has to prove to people that they could easily live in it. They have to be able to see the possibilities. And our living room just wasn't doing that. Here's what it used to look like:
You can see how barren it was. The first picture is taken from the perspective of about five steps in from the front door. Just no good vibes there, are there? As you move further into the room, in the second photo, it takes a lot of imagination to see other furniture there. You wonder why there isn't any more; you wonder if maybe it's because it won't fit… you begin to doubt if you'll be able to make the space work at all… Do you see how the progression goes?
Well, The Man and I didn't have to be told twice. We trucked right on out and found ourselves a sofa set and some tables that very day. In due course they were delivered, and with some other accessories we picked up over succeeding days, I staged the living room. I SO do NOT call myself a decorator, but I am secretly rather pleased with the result:
Voila! Homey. Comfortable. Not weird or overly personal. Now prospective buyers can see that the room works, and that it is actually a very nice place to be. It's not too crowded, but it's no longer barren, either. It is staged without clutter, which makes it seem restful. And it's easy to keep clean.
In the few weeks since we've made these two changes, we have had two more showings. I know it's not a lot, but we are rather rural, so we know we probably won't sell before many months have passed. But it is a small improvement.
In case you're interested, here's the breakdown of our cost:
Sofa & Chair: La-z-Boy, $1500 (on sale)
Coffee Table & End Tables: $800 (on sale)
Rug: clearance at Target, $69
Floor Lamp: Target, $40 (the online price says $80, but I swear we bought it in the store for $40…)
Table Lamps: Marshalls, $40 apiece
Curtains: $0, cuz I just switched out the ones from my bedroom :-)
I know, by the time you add it up, it's a big chunk of change. It's all about return on investment. We did think about renting furniture, but that adds up quickly, too; and then you have nothing to show for it when you return the stuff. This way we can sell the furniture when we move and get part of our investment back. But the key thing is that this home staging will make the house more appealing to prospective buyers, so that hopefully they will be willing to pay the price we are asking. And that is worth something, too.
In the meantime, though, we have furniture to sit on in this room. And I'm not complaining about that! :-)
Have you had to make any big expenditures to get your house ready to sell or make it more appealing to prospective buyers?
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