A professionally staged home can take the stress out of selling.
When you’re ready to sell your home, staging ensures you show off your space in the best possible way and offers higher value for your property and less time on the market.
The process can be overwhelming and stressful, but Kira Vanderlan, owner of Zestful Design, which offers services in decluttering, organizing and interior design, offered a few tips and tricks—as well as assurance—that all the hard work will be worth it in the end. Everything, she says, plays a key role in her passion: staging.
“I offer these four lines of business because I’ve found you can’t do one without the other,” she says. “Staging is my absolute favorite. I could do that all day long …”
When making changes to a home, Vanderlan says stagers first focus on removing or changing things like family photos, red walls and patterned drapes.
“A lot of people can’t see past that kind stuff and don’t realize they can take drapes down or paint a wall,” she says. “Immediately, a buyer might think, ‘This isn’t the house for me.’ A critical part of staging is neutralizing everything.”
And that doesn’t mean boring. It can mean organizing a pantry, a seemingly simple move that has helped sell a home Vanderlan staged.
“When I’m staging, I aim to help to leave a lasting memory by creating a look or display in the house that will just stand out to someone,” she says. “If they see an organized pantry, that will stand out to them. Leaving those positive impressions will really help get the home sold.”
An organized pantry serves as a reminder that staging isn’t just for the exterior parts of a room. When buyers move through a home, they want eyes behind closed doors. In fact, Vanderlan says the number one thing that home buyers report they prefer not to see on a home tour: bars of soap in the shower.
“Everything needs to be considered,” Vanderlan says. “Smells are a big one, too. Having strong odors in the home can immediately turn buyers away.”
Staging = Success
Vanderlan isn’t biased about the importance staging plays in selling homes. Paul Skillman, a Realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty in Lake Minnetonka, says staged homes show better in photographs, and most home buyers start their search online.
“Homes that are prepared for the market and look stellar online will sell the quickest,” he says. “Time is money, and less time on the market means less stress and frustration for [the seller] in the long run.”
Skillman says he has found that homes worked on by a professional stager spent no more than 10 days on the market. On the flip side, nonstaged homes averaged 20 days on the market.
“I can see it in their eyes when a home buyer finds ‘the one.’ It’s like they’re in love,” he says.
Vanderlan started Zestful Design in late 2018 after a business coach suggested she turn her side hustle of organization into a full-time venture. Intimated, but excited about the possibility, Vanderlan followed the advice and hasn’t looked back since.
Now, she helps many homeowners successfully sell their homes, sometimes for more than what they were originally asking.
But, getting from the initial walkthrough to a done deal isn’t easy. In fact, it’s more than just moving lamps around and taking down family photos. Psychology comes into play, Vanderlan says.
“When a seller goes to sell their house, they’re excited,” she says. “When I come in and tell them what needs to be done to get their house ready, the reality sinks in. I work to shift their perspective and tell them to start thinking of this house as the new owners’ house. Shifting their mindset is so important, and not always easy.”
Having a home stage can disrupt everything a seller has ever known about their space. Vanderlan says neutralizing a home to allow new owners to see themselves in it is key.
“No matter how stagers share that realization to them, it can come off as offensive,” she says. “After working in a home for a few hours, it’s important to start watching the emotions of a homeowner and remind them that stagers are there to help, to make them more money and to get their house sold.”