Monday, January 10, 2011

What Staging Can't Fix

Know what's fixable, and what isn't. Popcorn ceiling texture is removable, but it's a big hassle
                                                           Photo: Never Paint Again

Just like you can't fix stupid, there are some things that home staging just can't fix.
Simple staging can't fix things like:
  • Popcorn texture on ceilings. 
  • Windows that are not energy-efficient.
  • Walls in terrible condition.
  • Traffic pattern on carpeting.
  • Ceilings lower than 8 1/2 feet.
  • Lack of windows or small windows.
  • Unattractive view through window or doorway.
  • Awkward room dimensions or shape.
  • Awkward exit or entrance.
  • Small room.
  • Cavernous room.
  • Limited closet or storage space.
  • Mismatched doors or trim.
  • Mismatched flooring.
  • Obsolete appliances.
  • Obsolete bath fixtures.
  • Poor quality kitchen cabinets.
    Unless your staging goes heavy-duty, these shortcomings won't go away. What smart staging can do is minimize the impact these liabilities have on buyers. It's all about keeping the focus on a home's assets. Some of these problems can be passed off as charming quirks. Some may not be problems to certain buyers.  Some would disappear if you just threw money at them. 

    The way I see it, there are three levels of home improvement. They are, in the order of the most expensive to the least expensive: 
    • Remodeling
    • Repairing
    • Redecorating or staging
    Of course, the boundaries between these three are fuzzy.

    Any buyer financing the purchase of your home will be required to hire a home inspection company to examine the property. Any serious problems, such as structural ones, will be noted on that report to the financing company and the buyer. You and your home have no secrets.

    To camouflage or disguise your home’s flaws would be a mistake. The house is what it is, and any attempt to hide problems would be foolish. Your staging shouldn’t be deceptive. Do not hide flaws or mislead buyers. Honesty will breed trust. It's better to offer an allowance for repairs you can't fix, but only if the buyer insists.   

    If you have a windowless room, don’t create a mock window by hanging a curtain or shade on a blank wall. If you have a non-functioning appliance, don’t pretend that it works. If you have a dripping faucet, don’t just turn off the water to that sink. Fix what you can fix. 

    There may be mirrors called into service for home staging, but not smoke!

    Examine the staging you’ve done in your home and evaluate it the way a prospective buyer would, then eliminate anything that a buyer would consider unethical. I offer plenty of tips for dealing with problems like old kitchen cabinets, old bath fixtures, ugly views, small rooms and mismatches, in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.  

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