Jan 12

How Much Should I Spend to Stage?

I received an email over the weekend from someone who is considering putting his home on the market.  He wanted to know if he had to redo his kitchen and, if so, how much did I think it would cost?  And finally, would he be able to recoup the expense when he sold the house?

This house is one I have seen, but it’s in Vermont – and I’m in Connecticut.  And although there are some things I can say for certain – that kitchens and baths are definitely hot spots for buyers – I don’t know the Vermont market.  So my first advice to him was to check out the competition.  He told me that other houses in the area were in the $175-$200k range, but he wants to get $250.  But that doesn’t tell me anything about the other houses – what size are they, what condition are they in, what is their neighborhood like?  This information will tell  him if they are truly competition for his house.

The next suggestion is to talk to a Realtor about the properties that are being sold.  What is their price range?  What about amenities?  Condition?  The Realtor will help him understand what the market is looking for – as well as what the market will bear.

Then finally, take a look at the changes that can be made economically. In the kitchen, I know new counter tops are in order.  But at this price range (even the $250k), a beautiful laminate should be fine.  The kitchen cabinets are dated, but painting them and replacing the hardware may just do the trick.  He just needs to make certain that roblem doors (not closing all the way, loose hinges, etc) are also repaired.  And while he’s doing this, he should make certain the bathrooms are in good shape as well.  

And finally, a fresh coat of paint throughout the entire house will do wonders, especially since it hasn’t been painted in a few years.  Paint covers a myriad of sins, giving an instant update and freshness to any house on the market.  

I’m sure there are other things that can be done – and that we will discuss once he has a bit more information about the local market.  For one thing, the furnishings should be pared down so the house feels much roomier.  And the view out the windows and from the deck is drop-dead gorgeous, which should definitely be capitalized on.  But these are the easy changes.  The hard ones are knowing how much money to spend to get it ready for market.  And a little research will help guide that decision so he is able to see a significant return on his investment – which may not have to be that great after all.

Ann Anderson, owner of Rooms Reborn, founder and Director of the School of Interior Redesign, co-founder of the Association of Design Education, co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System.

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