Staging: What should I do if my home isn't selling?

Three smart moves for effectively staging your home in a slow selling market.

Today's real estate market is behaving a bit like the hit TV show "American Idol." Just as the show draws out the season before determining the "American Idol" winner, home sellers are finding that it's taking longer than they expect to sell their home. I call this idling market "American Idle."

Selling a home in today's rocky real estate market can be challenging at best. Foreclosures are rising, and, as a result, inventories are climbing in many areas of the country. New home inventories are at a high since January 1991, with over an eight-month supply currently.

HomeGain, a leading real estate website that connects agents with homebuyers and home sellers, reports the national average time for their consumers to sell is almost six (6) months from the time they first come to the site until they close.

What does this all mean? It means you need to act like your home is a contestant on "American Idol" and do your best to stand out amongst the crowd. How? Stage your home!

Follow these three steps to stage your home effectively and avoid being a part of the "American Idle".
  • Explore available resources to help you get started. Check out "Designed to Sell" on HGTV. The show has a team of experts who, on a budget of $2,000, transform a tired house into a showpiece. Seeing the transformation take place makes it easier for you to visualize what you need to do and how to implement small changes for a big impact. Talk to your real estate agent about their staging recommendations. Sometimes they will provide staging service for no extra charge. Or, they may recommend hiring a staging professional and provide you with referrals to professional stagers in your area. Visit your local library or bookstore for available books and publications on how best to sell a home, including ways to stage a home.
  • Visit model homes for ideas. Decorators and designers often recommend using a neutral palette to show a home off to its best advantage. One sure place to learn how professionals use color and position furniture to make a home look warm and inviting is to tour model homes. Using their ideas, such as applying a quick coat of paint in one or more of your rooms and removing or rearranging your furniture can help give your house the "wow" factor that will appeal to today's buyers.
  • Maximize your home's curb appeal. First impressions count, and can add dollar value to your home. Your front door and entryway are the introduction to your house and set the tone for buyers touring the house. Address outdoor living spaces as well as indoor living spaces. Those areas of the property are the most commonly overlooked, yet easiest to spruce up when preparing a home for market. Clear patios, pool and deck areas of worn and weathered furniture, give the front door a fresh coat of paint and plant colorful, fresh flowers.
Expect harsh Simon Cowell types to critique your home. With more choices, homebuyers simply can be pickier. But the more you do to prepare your home for sale, the better chance you will have to sell your home fast and at the price you want.

Does staging work? Most real estate agents still believe in staging, for both in-person open houses and for virtual open houses. A staged home photographs better and appeals to a broader range of buyers, thus driving more traffic through to see your house. The more buyers who have exposure to your house, the better opportunity you have for a sale.

As always, I recommend following the advice of your agent so that you can win over even the toughest judges and sell your home quickly.