Staging and Fresh Flowers?

phoggieJanuary 24, 2010

I hope we get to put our house on the market this spring and I am just trying to think ahead.

I have heard, mostly on HGTV, that fresh flowers are so important when staging for the house showing, but I can see a small fortune if I have go to out and buy fresh flowers everytime someone wants to see the house...or are good quality silks okay to use?

For those of you who have had the good fortune to sell your house in this down market, what did you do? My DH's old recliner finally "bit the dust", and oh my, he is having a hard time doing without it, but it takes up so much space, I know we need to pare down some to make the room look larger.

I am still battling to do, or not to do, the replacing of all of the shiny brass in this house...some say yes, some say not to bother. I did take it out of my kitchen however, and think I will replace the switch plates with just plain old white, although we have stained woodwork...yea or nay? Our brass is very good quality and looks as good as it day when we built this house 9 years it is not spotted or blotchy.

Same with repainting.....I know most like "neutral", but this house has color. A realtor said not to paint because the next person probably wouldn't want whatever color I paint anyway.

Anything more you can add, is more than is going to hard to sell in our area.....too many homes and not enough buyers who have the money to do so. We live in a "military town", and not much need for up-graded houses here.

Thanks in advance.

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I think the comment about fresh is really saying don't do fake.
Fresh flowers are always nice, if you have a place that really calls for it, get them, otherwise don't bother.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:02PM
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I used live plants instead of fresh flowers. My peace lily, airplane plant and green clover from St. Pat's Day all looked nice so that is what I used. They were something I already had on hand and they were already in pretty pots.

Also, we put our house on the market at the end of July so there was plenty of fresh fruit on sale. I would buy several apples, plums, peaches and whatever else looked good and fill up my nice pottery bowels. The kids ate tons so I was constantly refreshing them, but at least it didn't go to waste.

I sold with color on the wall. My realtor told me to repaint because he said my house was too bright. I did tone down three rooms that were blue, but I left the yellow in the rest of the house. We sold to the third looker to come through our house and had an offer in 28 days. I had gotten lots of compliments on the yellow in the house after I had painted it so I didn't think it was too wild. IMO, yellow is a neutral. It sometimes helps to get others opinions. If you're worried about your color, you could post a few pictures. Most on here would be happy to give their opinions.

Less is more for furniture. I would not replace your dh's chair. I think it's better to leave rooms a bit empty.

If you're in a slow market, then I think you have to price aggressively if you want to sell. Dh and I are still watching the houses that were on the market when we were. We sold six months ago and they didn't. We think the difference is that we positioned ourselves to sell. We priced our house near where we thought it would sell. We worked on improving appeal from the very first when we moved in. We made upgrades to the house that the competition didn't. We had wood floors and new carpet, and a nicely shaded and landscaped patio. It wasn't hard for our buyers to see that they couldn't do better in the price range than our house.

Good luck on selling your house.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:07PM
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Don't sweat the flowers. Consider a bowl of apples or oranges - will last for weeks and give that pop of color and life that flowers lend, for a fraction of the price.
But your very first priority should not be those finishing touches - but the basics. De-clutter, take out of that extra furniture and make sure everything is spotlessly clean and ordered.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:14PM
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I had the same fear when I first listed. When I knew the house was to be shown in advance I would run out and buy the cheapest bouquet at the grocery store but for most of the showings all that I had to add life to the rooms were bowls of fruit and houseplants. I made sure there was something green and alive in each room - even if it was just a tiny potted thing. I think it helped sell (haven't officially closed yet so I don't consider it sold until I have the check in my hand). I also think the biggest thing that helped was advice that someone gave on one of these threads - its about real estate, more is better, do whatever it takes to make each room look as big as possible. They don't have to be fully furnished, they don't have to have white walls, but you have to do whatever it takes to make your house look like it has more space for the dollar. Staging can help but keeping the house spotless and de-cluttered is the most important step.

I was planning on starting a thread about the two houses that I played a roll in selling this past winter (mine and my parents home in another state). I did a lot of work. A lot of cleaning and repairing. It took up most of my spare time for a YEAR. It was not something that could be done in a few weekends. I consider it hard work but worth it since I sold at asking price both times. But don't be fooled, there is no easy way to de-clutter or fake-repair faults in your house - it will all show up during inspections and viewing by buyers. And the people that bought in my case just "fell out of the sky", it was complete serendipity that they stumbled upon my listings and wanted what I was selling. Me being clean and ready to sell was the only part that I controlled.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 11:32AM
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Completely agree with trianglejohn. We spent 8 months getting our house ready for showing. We had some major repairs which I knew would interfere with selling so we did roof, rebuilt a sunroom which was in bad shape.Repainted, pulled up old carpet and refinished wood floors. Put in new carpet in rooms without wood floors. Replaced all bath faucets, light fixtures and switch plates. Took off old shower doors and replaced with expandable shower rods. Regrouted kitchen tile. Rented storage unit and put a ton of stuff in that. Shined up all woodwork. Did inexpensive staging and bought cheap bouquets of flowers in supermarket (those flowers lasted 2+ weeks) and bought cheap, make-believe fruit in Home Goods and put bowls in kitchen and dining room.

Cleaned, cleaned and shined everything. We are closing in a few weeks. I feel the work overplayed the faults of the house. We had multiple offers but held out and sold for close to our listing at a time when other homes kept dropping their price. We did one price drop which opened the pool of lookers. I feel we got our money back plus on the work. I know there was no way we would have gotten our price if we didn't do the work. It was worth all the aggravation. One other point, I feel staging was one of the most important things we did. It didn't cost much but transformed our house from a dated one to a stylish, young home which appealed to young couples. Not my style, but sold it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 1:40PM
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I sold a little tract home in the last recession, 1991. I believe you need to stage the home where you leave a positive lasting impression, the key is DECORATING!!!! To the hilt!!! With the current trends, I'd shop CL to get a new "look". Here are 2 lamps for $5 each on my CL, if I were staging a home to sell $10 would be a cheap investment. Then check the FREE section, a free couch with a white slip cover you make from a sheet(purchase the sheet @ a thrift store).....yeah!!! My last house sold in 3 weeks. The new owners asked me to sell them the matching bedding after the I KNOW the decorating SOLD the house. The whole street was for sale and MINE was singled out. Unless your home has pet odors? forget the fresh flowers....a bowl of fruit gets my vote!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:29AM
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We are currently working with stagers to get our house ready to sell. There philosophy is to not really doing the small decorating touches. They don't want to draw people's attention to the decor. They want to draw people's attention to the house. They are going to do some decorative items but fresh flowers have not been suggested.

We are painted walls a neutral color. There is a relatively small pool of buyers who like strong colors. For most everyone else, those colors they don't like are just dollar signs of work they would have to do.

When we bought into our house, I mentally added in the cost to repaint the yellow and dark orange walls...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 4:08PM
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I sold my 1972 ranch last spring. It was an entry-level neighborhood, either first-timers or retirees that had been there since 1972. There were many houses sitting for sale in that area and ours sold in TWO DAYS, completely empty of furnishings. I think it was due to:

Structural items like roof, siding and windows had all been updated within the previous few years;
Bathrooms had been hauled out of the 70's. New neutral finishes, tile instead of vinyl, white instead of avocado toilets and showers;
The kitchen was less than 10 years old. (No, not new, but nicer than others in that neighborhood);
Lawn and garden in perfect shape and full bloom;

To sell it, all we had to do was:
Remove some wallpaper;
Paint main areas & old papered walls a neutral color, repaint some ceilings;
Clean it really well.

Then we priced it right. Everyone looking at that price point would walk into our house and be thrilled that they didn't have old leaky windows or a water heater from the Nixon administration.

Keep in mind, the house had old strip oak floors, dark stained woodwork and doors, old cheap builder grade appliances, "Empire Today" carpet in the family room, electric heat and no central air. My daughter's pink floral wallpaper was in good shape and we took a chance and left it up. The back deck was clean but needed stain. The house was empty, no bowls of fruit or strategically placed furniture.

In spite of that we had 4 good offers in three days, and a ton of other interested people calling to make back-up appointments after we picked our buyer, in case it fell through.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 12:47PM
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I prefer a home completely empty as compared to one that is staged or worse yet, full of clutter. Or dirty. Other buyers may need to see a home decorated to their taste to really see the potential of the home... but their taste may not be the same as the decor.

I would definitely consider stripping any wallpaper and borders and painting over any walls that are truly garish or dated, but your home doesn't need to be white and beige. Color -- tasteful color -- is very in.

If the switchplates look dated or dingy, plain white or cream plates can be done very cheaply and are completely acceptable. And you must really and truly clean the house; a dirty home is off-putting to almost any buyer.

I'm not sure fresh flowers are going to really sell people on your house. If you are competing with a lot of other similar homes in your neighborhood, maybe, if it's part of a well-crafted look. Otherwise it's just one more thing for your to worry about while selling and one more expense.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Our house sold in three weeks in fall of 2008, a very down market.

I only repainted one small bath that was a very dark color. I had three agents come through before I did anything and they told me not to repaint any of the colorful rooms, so I didn't.

I did declutter to the nth degree, and then decluttered some more. I have four kids but staged the two children's bedrooms as if I only had two kids, so the rooms would look more spacious. I moved out all the stuff that takes up space but isn't necessary furniture in every room--the magazine basket, the dog beds, the sewing machine table, the small tv stand in the bedroom, etc.

I took a staging class a few years ago, and used the rule for decluttering I learned there--every single closet, cupboard and shelf was at least 1/3 empty, there was nothing on the floor but rugs and furniture (no toys, no out-of-season stuff in bins under the bed, recycling bins, etc).

Having four kids and lots of pets, cleanliness and keeping the house "viewing-ready" was my real challenge. I hired professional cleaners. They made things gleam that I didn't even know to clean.

As far as staging decor, I bought new towels that were only for showings, fresh fruit for the center of the dining room table, and a few large houseplants and beautiful pots to put them in.

I did buy fresh flowers for a bud vase in the master bedroom. Just a few, and only had to buy them two or three times due to the fast sale.

Our house was NOT the nicest house for sale in our neighborhood, we had formica countertops and white appliances, old cabinets where others had granite and stainless steel, we had an ancient linoleum floor in the finished basement TV room, etc. It wasn't within our budget to deal with any of those issues, so I made sure the stuff I could do, I did. The house looked spacious, spotless, and cared for.

Two "competing" houses on my block were still for sale a year+ later: one is clutter-free and staged, at least in the online photos, but is priced as if the market is high. The other has been reduced by 30K since it went on the market at an already low-market price, and is very very clean, but quite cluttered by house-shopping standards--lots of knick-knacks, family photos, lacy things and about a million clocks.

My friend was selling her house--exact same floorplan as mine-- across town and didn't believe in staging--just some decluttering and fixing things that were broken, she didn't repaint her dark colors and I'd say her house had 20% more furniture in it than mine, lots of toys and out of season stuff neatly in bins, but still there for buyers to see.... her house never sold.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 9:02PM
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