Staging a Home is More Than Moving a Couch.

Here’s a home staging tip for you based on actual experience. I was showing a home-buying couple a few houses here in the Dover, Delaware area. Our third home was a newer home, just a few years old, and it was vacant.

They looked around, seemed to like the area the home was in and the floor plan matched what they were looking for. I did not see an excessive amount of interest in their eyes, but there were still 2 more houses on our tour.

When we got to the Owners Suite, they opened up the closet and commented that this empty closet was of a decent size.

We got back into the car and our next house was in the same development just three blocks away. When we walked in, I realized that this fourth house was the same model and floor plan of the house we were just touring, only this one was a mirror image floor plan. You know what I mean… the third house had the living room on the left and this one had the living room on the right. So, I explained that to the buyers and they nodded and seemed to understand easily enough.

Along with being the same floor plan -only mirrored this home was occupied and nicely decorated. The sellers obviously took some time to arrange the furniture… the dining room table had four place settings, complete with cloth napkins in napkin rings… kitchen counter had no appliances on it… overall, it looked pretty nice.

To my real estate agent eyes, it looked like it was “staged” by the owners.

When we got to the Owners Suite, and the buyers opened up the closet, it was filled with clothes and the closet floor was covered as well with shoes, purses, etc. Not over-stuffed. Not unnecessary messy. Not overflowing. Just pretty well filled up. Kinda like all our own closets. And the wife said:

“Oh wow, here’s a difference, that last other closet was much bigger!”

I looked carefully, thinking maybe since it was a newer home perhaps the builder had an upgraded closet or something in that other home. Nope, these were the same size.

I could not convince the buyers that these closets were the same.

I’m thinking that maybe they’re a little thrown off by the reversed floor plan and furniture. They both insisted that this closet was much smaller than the other one. They actually chuckled a little at me for trying to convince them that these closets were the same.

They decided to place an offer on, in their words, “The vacant one with the bigger closet.”

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to have a vacant house, and really, nor an empty closet either. But, these buyers, who happened to look at two identical closets and happened to look at them one immediately after the other, were absolutely convinced that the stuffed closet was smaller. Even though one of the houses was “staged”, the tipping point was the perceived idea that the owners closet was of a different size.

A knowledgeable, experienced listing agent can help potential sellers with these insights. But staging is more than moving a couch from this wall to that wall. My sellers usually ask about “staging” and I usually tell them it’s more about “prepping”. And I’d rather see sellers spend the bulk of their efforts on thinning out. Some real estate agents call it de-cluttering, I prefer “thinning out.

Yes, I think its more important to be thinned out for the Owners Suite closet than the closet in bedroom three, but this would also apply to pantries, garages, basements, and coat closets too.

We sell a house differently than we live in a house. We all need some thinning out, heck, I know I do.

In other words, make your initial priority getting the tote boxes from WalMart rather than the napkin rings from PierOne.

And think thin.

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