Faulkner: Stage your home to inspire an emotional connection

Inviting potential buyers to fall in love with your home by showing it to its most imaginative and adaptive will help ensure offers.

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Staging for a sale is the act of sprucing up a home’s interior to make it as visually appealing as possible to a prospective buyer.

When staging is done well, it can result in a buyer forming an emotional connection to your home. A prospective buyer who forms a strong emotional connection is the most desired outcome for any seller.

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When a buyer truly connects with a home, the likelihood of an offer increases exponentially. That is often what motivates a buyer to make an offer. We have observed that an emotional connection to the home is often the single most important factor in the purchase decision.

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Rational thinking is secondary and follows the emotional connection. Once a buyer forms an emotional connection, then they will rationalize the purchase decision. That is, does it fit the needs of the buyer and some or most of their wants. If the connection is strong enough, the buyer will often talk themselves into making an offer.

Neutralizing the home can be beneficial. This would include wall colour being neutral to appeal to a wider audience. Use filler and fresh paint to repair dings and scratches. Neutrality and repairs can give the home a seamless and uninterrupted flow.

Lighter colours will bounce the natural light giving the home a more spacious and welcoming feel. Dark or bold colours can dampen interest if used in large spaces; however, they can occasionally be used effectively as accent colours.

WIndow coverings that match the walls can create the illusion of more space.

Make a good first impression with a clean, clear entryway. Photo by Anatoli Igolkin /Getty Images/iStockphoto

When staging furniture, less is more. Taking a minimization approach is always best. Buyers are attracted to homes flooded with light and roominess. They are put off by cramped homes filled with unnavigable spaces.

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Home shoppers will want to walk through a home without obstacles. Where practical, remove all unnecessary furniture from the home, including garbage and recycle bins, and store them while marketing and showing the home.

Staging a dining area can help to create an ambience in the home and help the buyer imagine themselves living in the home.

Create inviting spaces. Grouping chairs in front of a fireplace will draw attention to it. Avoid pushing furniture close to walls. Reposition easy chairs into floating group spaces.

Open curtains and turn on all lights to maximize the light in each room.

Every room should be staged to showcase function and flow. Each room should have a purpose and be user-friendly.

Decorative touches can include greenery, flowers, coffee table books and art pieces. The kitchen counter should be clear except for two or three appliances that one would expect to see. A dash of colour in the small appliances can add some flavour.

Remove towels from stoves, sinks or hangers and put them away. The fridge should be clear of magnets or pictures on it.

Closets, pantries and storage rooms should be well-organized and free of clutter. This will help to showcase more ample storage.

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Pillows create a soft, inviting impression. Photo by krblokhin /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Adding pillows on the bed can increase the cozy factor. Ensure the bedside lamps are working and turn them on.

Depersonalizing your home can help the prospective buyer see themselves and their family in it. One or two tasteful pictures of you and your family can be fine.

Doing minor cosmetic repairs can go a long way to avoid a negative emotional response. We have found the first 30 seconds of the showing to be the most important. That means it is best to ensure the front yard is well-kept and that the front steps and entrance are well-maintained and clear of clutter, cobwebs, dust and dirt.

Cleanliness contributes significantly to a buyer’s emotional connection. Yes, that includes the baseboards. Hiring a cleaner who sees your home with fresh eyes can be well worth it.

Touching up the paint on baseboards, trim and cabinets can pay dividends. Paint stores can easily and accurately match the paint. Bring in a cupboard door, or a piece of baseboard or tear off a tiny piece of the paint behind a light switch or vent.

Staging should also include smells that a buyer may notice. Work clothes, boots and old clothes in closets can often create an off-putting odour.

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Avoid adding fragrances or scented candles as some buyers may not enjoy them as you do and may even be allergic to them. When a buyer smells a fragrance, they may think the seller might be trying to hide something. Mildew in bathrooms and kitchen areas should be dealt with before scheduling any showings.

Virtual staging in marketing photos has become more commonplace for vacant homes. Many realtors will offer that service as part of their listing package.

Staging can be done on your own or you can hire professional help. Stagers may offer different services ranging from a complete stage of a vacant home to a one- to two-hour consultation to help you use what you have to make your home feel welcoming.

Staging can put more money in your pocket and reduce the time on the market.

Dennis Faulkner, BA Economics, works as a realtor at MaxWell Challenge Realty. He can be contacted to answer your real estate questions at [email protected]

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