“And this,” notes Hano Jacobs, CEO of the Realty 1 International Property Group, “is not at all the same thing as preparing the home for sale by making repairs. Staging, or dressing your home, involves things of an aesthetic nature such as design, organisation and appearance as opposed to mechanical or functional improvements.
“The objective is to present your home in a way that not only appeals to potential buyers, but gives it a star quality – or X-factor - that makes it really stand out from the rest of the properties they are viewing.”
This is especially important, he says, when selling an upmarket home, and here one really needs to go beyond the standard cleaning, decluttering and neutralising process in order to get a “wow” reaction.
This year’s top tips for doing so include the following, recommended by HGTV Designed to Sell star Lisa la Porte and other staging experts who work for movie and music stars and billionaire business people, such as Beth Ann Shepherd of Designed to Close in California and Karen Otto of Home Star Staging in Texas:
* Glamorize your garden. Install decorative garden lights and a water feature if you don’t already have one. If your lawn is patchy, replace it with new instant lawn. If you have a concrete driveway, get it resurfaced with a cobblestone or brick finish.
* Dramatize the entrance. The front door should be an architectural component that underlines your home’s design and if doesn’t, you should change it. Your entryway may also benefit from an oversized mirror or striking artwork, a planter or a dramatic new light fitting.
* Think ultra-modern as well as ultra-clean when it comes to kitchens. Install matching stainless steel appliances, a glass-fronted wine cooler and a water filtration system.
* Built-in bookcases and professionally fitted dressing rooms are big sellers with upmarket buyers, especially if they are uncluttered and properly organised. Cupboards should only be half-full, so remove any extra clothing or belongings before putting the home on show.
* Go green. Energy efficiency is increasingly important to upmarket buyers, so it’s worth investigating the latest developments on this front and investing in such items as a heatpump for the pool, a tankless hot water system and a whole house fan as an alternative to air-conditioning.
Homeowners who are wondering whether such staging is worth the expense, says Jacobs, can rest assured that it is. “The National Association of Realtors in the US has found that staged homes sell 50% faster than non-staged homes and although the practice is relatively new in SA, our experience is also that staged homes sell much faster.
“Even better, staged homes invariably achieve higher prices than non-staged homes, and the 2011 Home Gain survey found that home staging was one of the top 3 ‘improvements’ that sellers could make, as it generated an average 299% return on what it cost.”