I received a call from one of the real estate agents that I work with, and I could tell that she had a problem on her hands with one of her listings and needed help from me fast. The home had been on the market for over 90 days, and there was no interest for several reasons.
There were several large dogs in the home, which means dog hair, but the homeowner’s mid-moving state was more than what potential buyers could see past.
The agent was faced with a stressful situation with this home: the sellers had found a house they wanted to buy but could not swing both homes, so they signed a contingent offer on the new home. In the meantime, there was interest from another buyer on that home and all at once the agent was faced with having to sell their existing home in 2 weeks or they would lose the new home. With 90 days on the market and no offers, it was time to make something happen!
I went over to the home and was faced with some real staging challenges. The home was a multi-level, and the entrance oddly came into the lower level where there was a mish-mash of furniture and items half boxed up, a purple wall, and two spare bedrooms right in front of the entrance. Up a half a flight of stairs was the kitchen, dining and living area that was dark, with a sort of odd floor plan to boot. Up another half a flight was the master suite with no doors for privacy, and the bed was right in front of the wide door opening.
If there was an opportunity to be a little overwhelmed as a home stager, this was it!
Not only was the house oddly laid out, the dogs continued to shed, and I had 2 weeks to not only stage the home, but help get a contract in place.
I had little time to stage this home, and little budget to work with. I had to choose my strategy carefully. Here are 3 of the areas I focused on:
- Fixed the odd entrance with staging. The entrance was a real deterrent (as described above) and I had to do something with the purple wall and the awkward set up of the room the front door opened into. I made the purple wall look like it was done “on purpose” by bringing in artwork, pillow and accessories that complimented the color, along with some black and white to cut the intensity of the color. I arranged the furniture in a way that segregated the seating area from the entrance, placing the loveseat parallel to the side wall, creating a conversation space that did not immediately open up into the entrance path. This is critical as it removed the feeling that as you entered the house you were invading personal space, and gave the potential buyers a logical pathway to the main part of the house.
- Opened up the living space to make it look lighter and brighter. As you went up half a level from the entrance in this house, the living area was on the right, and it was very dark and dingy feeling. Because of the dog hair and half moved status, it just did not have a good feel to the home. I could not bring in new furniture, so I had to figure out a way to make this room feel good and look clean with the existing furniture in the home. The couch had been placed in a way that blocked the light coming in from the window, so I immediately pulled the couches to each side so that the room looked and felt airier, which in turn, helped brighten up the space significantly. The wood looking floor was one of the best aspects of the home, so I made the most of it! I removed the rug from under the coffee table, which helped the room feel more spacious and allowed the floors to be seen without interruption while removing one of my biggest culprits of dog hair. I added pillows, artwork, removed a large chair from the space and placed the coffee table in the middle of the couches with some artificial apples, which also helped the room looked fresh. Here is a before and after of the room:
BEFORE Living Room:
AFTER Living Room:
3. The kitchen was small and needed to look more spacious. Kitchens, like bathrooms, have to be clean and look spacious for your buyers to see themselves living in the home. It is easy to do, and in this case, just a few things made all the difference. First of all, the owners had a frying pan they kept out to cook bacon in, and that had to go! We put that away, and I let them know the stove had to be completely clear of any pans, especially used ones! I cleared the counters of clutter and created a cluster of décor in the back corner of the counter to keep it looking organized with clear spans of counter top in between. I followed a similar strategy for the top of the cabinets. I kept the island completely clear, as the buyer needs to see space in the kitchen, so they feel like they have room to roll out those holiday cookies! Here is a before and after of the kitchen:
As you can see, the things I did in these rooms took very little time and very little money!
The results? I got the home staged, it went under contract within days, and the homeowner is happily in their new home!
With 2 weeks to sell the home after being on the market for over 90 days with no interest or offers, it sold in a matter of days, allowing the homeowner to move to their new place, and the agent to have a nice sale on a property that looked impossible.
Karen Conrad is the owner and designer of Karen Conrad Enterprises, LLC. She is an instructor, speaker, and aut hor of The First 7 Seconds as well as the Home Staging 101 course now available online through VanEd.