By Mike Baird
If you’ve watched my show Flip Men, you know that I don’t always stage the houses I flip. Sometimes a property can stand on its own. But sometimes you can get a better price and sell a house faster if you show people its potential with a little bit of creative home staging. As a real estate investor, knowing how and when to stage when you’re flipping houses is crucial. It’s also pretty simple, when you know just a little bit about the market and comp properties in the area. Here are the basics of staging in just five easy tips.
Know When to Stage a Property
First of all, should you stage the property for your open house? As a general rule, if your house is selling for less than $200,000, you probably don’t need to stage it. If you are selling a house—especially a flip—in a nicer neighborhood or you’re trying to sell at a slightly higher price, you’ll want to invest in some quality home staging.
Showcase the Property’s Strengths
Does your house have high, vaulted ceilings? Does it have a lot of natural light in the living room? Is there a covered patio where family and friends could sit outside and enjoy a warm afternoon? Your staging should show off the property’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses. Show potential buyers what they can do with the space—how they can make it their own and really enjoy it.
Accessorize—But Don’t Overdo It
Don’t be afraid to add little touches, like a fruit bowl in the kitchen or a bookshelf and a modern desk in the home office. The point of staging is to spark your potential buyers’ imaginations and get them thinking about how they will use the space. A few tasteful accessories can give them that inspiration without making them feel like they’re walking into someone else’s home.
You don’t have to put toothbrushes and shaving cream in the bathroom, but do place potted plants and other appropriate accessories around the house where they can accentuate its strengths and give buyers a feel for what they can do with it. When you accessorize, you have to walk a fine line between being too generic and too personalized.
Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal
As you consider how to stage the house, don’t forget about the outside. A little bit of landscaping, some porch furniture, and a couple of hanging plants can do a lot to give a house a warm and welcoming look. You want people driving by or walking up to feel like they’ve arrived home to a beautiful house. You want them to picture evenings on the patio, a garden, and their kids playing in the yard.
Finally, don’t overdo your staging. I tell new flippers all the time not to over-rehab a house, and the same is true for staging. You want the house to look amazing, but you also want it to look like it fits with the neighborhood.
With every property you fix and flip, there’s a limit to what the market will bear, no matter what you put into rehab and staging. No one wants buy a $500,000 house in a $350,000 neighborhood.
If you get a chance, check out some of the comps in the area. Take a look at the home staging they’ve done, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. And don’t be afraid to talk with professional stagers about what they recommend and what they’ll charge to stage properties for you. Every real estate investor in the business of flipping houses should have a professional home stager’s number in their phone.