Framingham MA Real Estate | Judy B Leerer, Realty Executives Boston West

Sellers who are eager to attract serious buyers and maximize the value of their home often utilize home staging as a way to leave a good impression.

Homes that are skillfully staged look better in photos online, creating more leads, showings, and ultimately, offers. Furthermore, prospective buyers want to be able to envision themselves living in a home. Staging makes it easier for them to understand what it would look like and how spacious it will feel once it has been furnished.

Home staging by the numbers

You don’t, however, have to take my word for it. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases an annual report which collects and analyzes survey data from nearly 2,000 agents regarding their experience with home staging.

In their findings, they note that 62 percent of agents agree that staging a home lessens the time the property is for sale. Furthermore, 77 percent of agents said home staging makes it easier to visualize living in a home that would otherwise be empty.

Which rooms should be staged?

Staging an entire home takes an enormous amount of time and money. One way to simplify the process is to stage a select few rooms. In the NAR’s study, they asked agents which rooms they typically staged when selling a home. The results:

  • 83% Living Room

  • 76% Kitchen

  • 69% Master Bedroom

  • 66% Dining Room

  • 53% Bathroom

  • 31% Yard Space

  • 25% Children’s Bedroom

  • 21% Guest Bedroom

From these results, we can ascertain that it’s important to stage the main rooms of your home. Lesser used a multi-purpose rooms (like offices and guest rooms) aren’t as important to stage.

Can staging your home increase the sale price?

It’s difficult to say with certainty if, and by how much, home staging affects the sale price of a home. However, if staging your home is successful at getting the attention at a greater number of prospective buyers, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to go with the highest bidder.

When the NAR asked agents if staging increases the amount buyer’s offer on a home, their responses were somewhat mixed.

  • 29% of respondents thought it increases the offer by one to five percent

  • 21% of respondents say it increases the offer by six to ten percent

  • 8% said it increases the offer from between eleven to twenty percent

  • 14% said it had no impact on the dollar value of the home

  • 27% were unsure if it had an impact on the dollar value

In general, it would seem that most agents feel that staging a home not only improves a buyer’s opinion of a home, but also increases its sale value. If you’re planning on selling in the near future, staging at least part of your home could be something to consider to give your property a competitive edge.

There are countless variables in life which make it nearly impossible to predict the future. Whether you're talking about your own life, your children's future, or how society will change in coming years, we can only make educated guesses about where any of us will be in a decade or two.

One of the few things we can predict with a high degree of certainty is the continued growth of the senior citizen population. According to the Institute on Aging, the percentage of retirement-age adults in the United States will reach 20% by the year 2030. That's when the youngest members of the so-called "Baby Boomer Generation" will turn 65.

Although the proportion of older Americans will level off after that, the actual number of people in that demographic group will keep increasing. An advantage of growing older in the next few decades is that we will be in good company! As a result, services, societal attitudes, and government programs will likely be more in-tune to the needs of an aging population.

Empty Nest Syndrome

When children grow up and leave the nest, middle-aged parents often look around them and re-evaluate their needs. As more people reach retirement age, a major lifestyle decision many couples will be weighing is the possibility of "downsizing." While they may still want to be able to have enough room for family gatherings and overnight guests, a large home may no longer fit their lifestyle or financial goals.

Buying a condo, cottage, or other type of smaller home can offer retirees a lot of benefits, especially for those ready to scale back on property maintenance. Moving into a gated community or planned development can free you from the burden of lawn mowing, landscaping, and other time-consuming maintenance tasks. Since these potential benefits may also come with restrictions, it pays to fully understand and feel comfortable with Homeowner Association agreements.

There's also the option of purchasing a smaller and easier-to-manage new home in which you don't have to comply with the requirements and fees of an HOA. For senior citizens of all ages, moving to a house that has a smaller yard to maintain and fewer stairs to climb can make life a lot easier. More compact homes also bring with them the advantages of lower heating and cooling costs.

Depending on financial resources and goals, some Baby Boomers decide to keep their family homestead and buy a second property for vacation purposes, rental income, or a combination of both. While that may seem like the opposite of downsizing, costs can be offset by renting the vacation home to reliable tenants or sharing it with family and friends. Owning a second home also gives you the option of transitioning completely to it when you are ready to downsize or relocate.

Whether you plan on selling your home in the next few months or the next few years, it’s always a good idea to start thinking about the things that can increase or decrease the value of your home.

There are some factors that are mostly out of your control. Things like climate and the state of the housing market aren’t something you can do much about. However, there are several ways you can gain an edge once you put your house on the market.

In today’s article, we’re going to talk about some of the main things that contribute to the value of a property, and a few lesser known ideas to help increase your home value.

The most important appraisal factors

Before you start thinking about adding bonus features to your home you should make sure the basics are covered. To maximize appraisal value, your home should be:

  • Structurally sound. The foundation, roof, plumbing, and other vital items need to be in top shape.

  • Efficient. Houses that haven’t been updated with energy efficient windows, insulation, and HVAC systems are going to drag down the value of the home. Prospective buyers want to know they won’t be spending extra each month of the utilities.

  • Well-maintained. Inside and out, having a clean appearance shows potential buyers that you’ve taken care of the home. This includes driveways, lawns, and fences on the outside, and paint and carpets on the inside.

  • Size, location, and market. You won’t be able to influence these, and many times putting additions on a home can actually lower its estimated value, so it’s best to focus on other areas where you can make a difference.

How to increase your home value

Depending on how much time you have left before you want to sell, there are a number of things you can do to improve your home. Some home improvement projects are costly and time-consuming, where others can be simple and cost-effective. Here are some ideas for increasing the value of your home.

  • Revitalize the neighborhood. If you’re going to be living in your home for years to come, it can be worthwhile to integrate yourself into the community. Starting community gardens or converting lots into fields and playgrounds are long-term projects that will add culture and amenities to your neighborhood. Not only is this good for the town, but it could also increase the value of your home.

  • Small upgrades pay off. If you plan on moving within the coming months, you still have time to increase the value of your home. By replacing old faucets, handles, and doorknobs you can make older items appear new again. Similarly, minor electric upgrade, like replacing old light switches or outlets, combined with a fresh coat of paint can make a room look like new.

  • Simple landscaping. You don’t need to start carving topiary animals into your shrubs to increase your curb appeal. On the contrary, having a yard that is simple and well-maintained will appear cleaner and easier to take care of for prospective buyers.

  • Consult an expert. If you’ve lived in your house for a while, it might be difficult for you to see which things might decrease the home’s value. Contacting an agent will help you gain an outside perspective on your house so that you can plan home improvement projects accordingly.

Let's face it: you probably have picture frames or decorations hiding some small holes in your drywall. Most people hold off on filling small holes until it's time to repaint the wall. Even then, some people assume you can just paint right over the holes to cover them up. There's a much better way to ensure you have smooth and uniform walls, however. Read on to learn how.

Repairing small holes

If the areas you are attempting to repair are mainly small holes from picture frames made by hooks and nails, there's a relatively easy way to make your wall look like new again.
  1. First, you're going to want to pull out any debris from the whole, including loose or chipped pieces of drywall. This is an important step that many people omit. If you put your spackle or paste in a hole that has loose drywall in it, it could just fall out when it drys.
  2. Next, fill up the whole with spackle and smooth it with a putty knife or any flat surface available to you. Read the directions on the paste to determine how long it will take to dry.
  3. Once dry, sand down the area using a fine-grit sandpaper (at least 120 grit). Rub your hand over the area to see if there are any bumps. Be careful not to sand too hard if your wall is textured at all. Once the spackle is smooth and flush with the wall, you can move onto the next step: repainting.

Repainting your wall

It's good practice to save leftover paint and color samples for the walls of your house. If you've done this, your work here will be a lot easier. When you repaint the area you've sealed and sanded you'll want to paint over the edges slightly to blend it with the paint already on your wall. This will, hopefully, make it so the repaired area doesn't stand out. Remember not to panic when the paint appears darker and more vibrant where the repair is. Once it dries it will more closely resemble the paint on the wall. It may be necessary to put a second coat onto the area, so don't put your paint away just yet. In the meantime, this is a great opportunity to check the walls in the room for any other areas that need to be touched up.

It doesn't look quite the same

If you find yourself staring at the one-inch area of your wall that looks slightly different than the rest, you have two options.
  1. Back away, go do something else for a while and then come back later. Was it obvious to you where the spot was after taking a break? Sometimes artists get too close to their work and focused on details that are only apparent to them. Remember that no one is likely to notice but you.
  2. If it's driving you nuts, you could always use this opportunity to repaint the entire wall. Many rooms now have an "accent" wall, meaning one wall painted differently than the other three. This is a great way to add a hint of color to a room. Find a color that will nicely accent the walls and head to the paint store.

 Whether you're staging your home to sell it faster or preparing for a big family gathering, there are a lot of easy, inexpensive things you can do to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative.

While one or two small touches may not guarantee making a great impression, a handful of upgrades and improvements  should tip the scales in your direction. Here are a few ideas and possibilities:

  1. Clean carpets: If you have pets, children, or teenagers in the house, there's a good chance your carpets have some ugly stains on them. Fortunately, there are relatively easy solutions ranging from hiring a professional carpet cleaning service to renting a steam cleaner machine from your local hardware store or supermarket. In some cases, you may need to pretreat the stains with a cleaning spray. Keep in mind, however, that pre-treating carpet stains can be risky. First of all, there's the potential for certain cleaning solutions to permanently fade the color of your carpet. Secondly, some cleaning chemicals are toxic, so it's important to read the label and use them with caution. Fortunately, more and more professional carpet cleaning services are using non-toxic, "green" cleaning products, so look for companies that are environmentally friendly in their practices. Depending on the extent of your carpet stains, a good vacuuming and thorough steam cleaning, alone, might produce the desired results.
  2. Upgrade door knobs: You probably never paid attention to the quality of your door hardware, but it's not uncommon for homeowners to have very plain-looking doorknobs throughout their house. Visitors will probably notice them, at least on a subtle level, if the knobs are either exceptionally cheap or -- on the other hand -- very stylish and distinctive. Granted, replacing a bunch of ordinary doorknobs with $40 antique-style or crystal glass hardware could get rather pricey! A more economical alternative would be to get moderately priced doorknobs that would achieve the desired result without costing hundreds of dollars. If you're going to continue living in your home and are looking for ways to add extra style and quality to your decor, then doing an extensive doorknob upgrade is an option to consider. On the other hand, if you're staging your home for sale, then a more conservative approach might be appropriate.
  3. Replace light switch covers and outlet plates: Many homes seem to have run-of-the mill, plastic light switch covers, which serve the purpose, but don't enhance the decor at all. While it may be another subtle aspect of your overall decorating scheme, it's one of the many features people may notice. Metallic or artistic-looking switch covers make a much more positive statement about your attention to detail and quality.
  4. Remove smudges from windows and mirrors: Crystal clear windows and mirrors help bring out the best in your home. It's one of those small touches that can make a big difference in the impression you make on family, friends, and -- if your house is on the market -- potential buyers.
There are literally dozens of small changes, improvements,and upgrades you can consider making in and around your home, but very often it's those little touches that make a lasting impression.