Staging to Sell vs. Decorating

This week I was planning on writing about staging your home to sell vs. decoarting your home.  Sellers often don't realize that staging and decorating are not the same thing.  When you are selling, you want to play up the features of the property, not your personal decorating style. 

In doing my research, I ran across this great blog by "The Kim Six Fix" and had to share it with you!  She does a great job explaining staging to sell. 


In the summer of 2011 we sold our Boston "Money Pit" after owning it less than 9 months.  We did make some major changes, like gutting the kitchen, but most of it remained unchanged. 
When we bought the house, it had wallowed on the market for 7 months, and had taken multiple price reductions.  We ended up closing on it for under asking. 
On the other hand, when we listed it (for 10% more than we paid for it 7 months earlier), we had four offers within 24 hours of hitting the MLS, some for more than the asking price.  
What do I think was the big difference (along with an updated kitchen)?   Staging.
I really do think the previous owner's photos were NOT selling the place (which actually featured some great architecture, custom cabinetry and gorgeous hardwood floors.)
For example, here is a photo of the living room from the MLS when we bought the house.  The room itself was hard to understand.  You couldn't get an idea of size or even how it was laid out compared to the rest of the house:
Here is the listing photo that we used: 
The angle is different, but those are the same windows (the one behind the TV wasn't shown in the previous photo).  You also get a better idea of the woodwork and flow of the space.

The dining room staging had similar issues.
You can barely tell it is a dining room.  The photo quality is poor and you are too distracted by the room contents you miss the fireplace and great built ins. 
Here is my photo from the MLS (details on exactly HOW I staged it and additional photos of the room can be found here):
Isn't that so.much.better?  You can see the fireplace, the built ins and even the bay windows.  The wall color actually isn't different, the photo is just not washed out. The table is a better size, and doesn't block out your view of the floors, and the artwork isn't distracting.
In the Kid's Rooms there was just way too much clutter and lack of window treatments made the place look cold:

In the Office the dark carpet and loud artwork was all that you could see.   Random floating furniture and a side-view of the TV wasn't helping anything.

On the other hand, we defined the space clearly.  
"Hey buyer! This is an office."  There is no doubt about it.  Plus by moving all the furniture away from the windows, they become more prominent which is what you want.  You also can grasp the size of the room since you can see both walls.
The upstairs bathroom is a PERFECT example of how NOT to stage a room for photos:
The trash can, a training potty, and personal items along with random "artwork" make it feel a little dirty.   CLEAN is key!  (And having the color balance correct so it doesn't appear that you have a purple bathroom!)
They didn't have any photographs in their listing of the downstairs bath.  No need to wonder why.
The master bedroom benefited from more substantial furniture.  The lack of height of the previous owners bed made it hard to understand that this was, in fact, a full height room:
Here are a few other spaces, re-staged and re-photographed.
The landing at the top of the stairs: 
And our staging: 
Doesn't that make it so much more clear how the rooms are connected. You can see both the dining room and the living room on the right.  (We didn't use this on our MLS listing but the photographer thought our cat's photobomb on the steps was photoworthy!) 
The back porch, which we both used a kid's playroom.

I know many people will say to get rid of all toys and "hide" the fact you have kids.  I don't believe you have to.  You just have to de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter:
This photo was shot from the other end of the porch which is why it looks reversed. 
Finally, moving onto the kitchen, which is a whole new room so there are no real "before" photos.

There are, on the other hand, my personal photos vs. the the photos I used for my MLS listing.  Which bring me to my number 1 tip for getting good MLS photographs:
USE A PROFESSIONAL ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER.  (Unless you are a good photographer with access to decent, non-distorting wide angle lenses.) DO NOT.. I repeat.. DO NOT let your listing agent take photos. 
Here is why.  This is the best shot I could get with my kit 18-55 lens on my Canon. You can't really tell what the kitchen layout is. 

This is the shot that my photographer got:
Cant' you get a much better understanding of how the kitchen is laid out? And that it has.. *gasp* WINDOWS!!
Here is another example:

It was totally worth the $400 I paid for the photos (I got approximately 200 photos of every single room when he was done.  It was great for not only the MLS, but marketing flyer, long distance buyers etc.)  Most US buyers will look at houses online before ever stepping foot in a house.  And of those *MOST* will choose which houses to tour based solely on the photos. You want to put your best foot forward.
Did you know that Fontaine Family has a photographer on staff with a state of the art technology - whose job it is to provide high quality, professional looking photos for your MLS listing?
  We understand how important it is to portray your home in it's best light to get you top dollar faster! 

Are you ready to get started? 
Give us a call at 207-784-3800 to chat about how we can
help you stage your home to sell!