There are few times in a man’s life when it’s acceptable to cry – holding his child for the first time, beating cancer, or seeing the resale value of his flat this year. With demand flatter than a cheap pancake, you need every possible way to beat the low valuation. Here’s how:
What is Staging?
“Staging” a flat means setting it up to look good, usually for prospective buyers. Staging is why showroom flats, or apartments in design magazines, look so damn ritzy in pictures.
Some property agents know how to stage flats; ask and they might have someone in their agency handling it. Otherwise, there are also photographers and interior design students who do this for a small fee. If you want to bypass all of them though, you can get by on seven basic rules:
1. Set the Dining Table
Before viewers arrive, set the dining table. Pile on the plates, flowers, candle stands, etc. If you look at the table and feel like ordering tea and crumpets in a fake British accent, you’ve done it right.
Sales designer Terry Xiu also suggests that you:
“Position the dining table near a window if possible. Make all the furniture of the same set; don’t mix up different types of chairs. You can also position a mirror near the dining table, so the dining space looks more big and open.”
2. Track Lighting and Uplights
Buy some track lights (anywhere from $15 to $50), which are basically rows of little lights that can be individually angled. Place them in strips along the floor, or along the ceiling, and angle the light toward big ornaments – large family photographs, paintings, a grandfather clock, etc.
“Lighting directs the viewer’s gaze, and what they pay attention to when they first enter the room,” Terry says, “You want to control the viewer’s eyeballs. You want them to see how beautiful your feature wall is, or how nice the side table can look in the corner.
It can also be distraction. You can move their eyes away from the crack in the ceiling, or from the scratches on the flooring.”
Terry also suggests you purchase uplights (lamp-stands that project light toward the ceiling) instead of using the regular lights.
“Uplights are softer. Regular down-lighting is usually quite glaring, and it can make the place look very clinical.”
3. Move Furniture Away From the Walls, if You Can
It’s common practice to shove desks and sofas against the wall. But if you can pull the furniture toward a central area, and away from the walls, it will make the flat look bigger.
If the central area is carpeted though, pay attention to how the furniture rests on the carpet.
“If you cluster furniture in a central area, rest all the furniture from the same set on the carpet – don’t leave one or two chairs on the carpet, and one or two off it,” Terry says, “at least the front two legs of each chair should be on the carpet.”
4. Don’t Neglect the Front Door
“Ignoring the front door is the most common mistake,” Terry says, “When there are viewers coming, be sure to clear out all the shoes, and throw out worn out welcome mats.
Make sure the front door is properly painted, and you may want to move any religious icons or big potted plants for the time being, so the area doesn’t look cluttered.
I will usually put a ‘greeter’ at the front door, like a small side table with some flowers; or if there is a wall facing the front door, maybe hang some art or a family photograph.”
Terry adds that a bad impression at the front door might “linger”, and psychologically make the rest of the interior seem less polished.
5. Paint the Grouting in Toilets and Kitchens
The grouting is the space between tiles. In toilets and kitchens, it tends to be the home of dirt, moss, and various indigenous life forms.
“Even if the surfaces are clean and everything works, dirty gaps between the tiles will make the place look run down,” Terry says, “I will usually get a small pot of white paint, and just paint over the grouting. The white lines can also make the tiled surface look brighter and cleaner.“
6. Slap on a Uniform Paint Job
To make the flat seem bigger, make sure the wall colour in the main area is uniform. This gives the impression of a large continuous space, rather than a collection of smaller rooms.
“If there are no partitions or dividing walls, and the living area is the same space as the kitchen and dining room, I suggest painting all these walls the same colour,” Terry says, “if you paint the kitchen-half yellow and the living room-half sky blue, you can establish that they are two separate areas, yes. But when you separate the space like that, you actually make the overall flat size seem smaller.”
7. Don’t Make It Look Lived In
The idea of staging a resale flat is to make it seem like a flashy new condo-unit – not like a crash pad in which you’ve been guzzling beer and playing Xbox in sweaty underpants for years. And since you’re going to sell, you may as well begin the emotional detachment by clearing stuff out.
“The less clutter, the bigger and more appealing the space will look,” Terry says, “So remove all your personal belongings from the tables and chairs when people come to view. In the toilet, don’t leave soap with all the hair in the soap dish, or half-squeezed toothpaste tubes around the sink.
It’s inconvenient, but the fact is that personal clutter can destroy the effect of even the best interior design.”
And once you’ve done all this, you’re ready to move to negotiation tactics for getting the highest cash premium. Follow us on Facebook for more on that!
Have you had any other good staging tactics that have worked? Share your secrets with us here!