Market Watch: House staging is a must!

With the busy spring housing market right around the corner, many Canadians are contemplating home improvements, according to a recent poll released by Royal Lepage Real Estate Services. They are planning to sell their homes and hope these improvements will entice a potential buyer to choose their home over others and even pay more money for it. However, the amount that they would be prepared to spend on preparing their home for sale differed greatly. As did their definition of what might be considered current home decor, compared to specialists in the field of home-for-sale preparation.

Up to 54 per cent of Canadians thought $2,000 or more would be an appropriate amount to spend in preparing a house for sale, while 25 per cent indicated they would be willing to pay over $5,000. In addition, 75 per cent considered the style of their house as "current" or "somewhat current." This contradicts professional house staging specialists, who maintain that although many are in need of updating prior to sale, a significant difference can be made with as little as $1,500.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "house staging" it simply means preparing a house for sale using cost-effective and non-invasive methods. House staging can also be referred to as house fluffing. Most of the people polled considered house staging as part of their selling and buying criteria. Popular home makeover television programs have made consumers more familiar than ever with interior design trends, and average buyers expect more when shopping for a new house.

House staging is considered to be one of the best ways to make a dramatic impact without having to spend a lot of money. And, while most home owners think their home decor is current, experts disagree. The majority of homes are considered to be outdated and in need of a pre-sale makeover. However, unlike major renovations, house staging is a simple and inexpensive way to bring your house up-to-date. Buyers want to walk into a house and immediately envision themselves living there. Simple staging techniques like cleaning, organizing, and de-personalizing can help make any home more buyer friendly.

According to the poll, the top three interior features when selling a home were freshly painted walls (30%), flooring (29%) and organized storage space (20%). However, when asked how important storage space was to a potential buyer, 86 per cent ranked it as a seven out of 10 or higher, with 43 per cent grading it as a 10 out of 10, or the most important. Another interesting finding was that while 32 per cent of males ranked storage space as the most important, this number jumped to 54 per cent for females. Creating the illusion of space and neutralizing your house's decor are two important aspects of house staging and eliminating clutter is an easy way to accomplish both.

In addition when preparing your house for sale, the exterior of your house is equally as important as the interior. Homebuyers decide whether or not to look inside a house by the appearance of its exterior. When asked what they thought was the most important exterior feature when selling a house, the number one answer was a well-maintained yard (40%). A clutter-free yard and driveway ranked second (28%), while a newly painted exterior was third (18%). Ask your realtor for his or her advice when listing your home for sale. Then, depending on whether or not your home is properly priced, be prepared for a quicker than average sale time.

Market Watch is provided by Victor N. Kerman - Courtesy of the Realty Info Centre.

Produced on March 21, 2005

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