Styling a property for sale: vacant versus styled and furnished

2 Nov 2020

Knowing how to present a house when it’s on the market isn’t something that comes naturally for most of us.

One of the main stumbling blocks according to Brad Teal, director of Brad Teal Real Estate, is the emotional attachment people have to their home.

Although rooms filled with furniture and meaningful treasures collected over time can add layers of personal warmth, it’s not necessarily the best decorating approach to take when selling the place, Mr Teal explained.

“Your home needs to be decorated in a way that engages people and stands out in a photo, not focused on what’s relevant to your family today,” he said.

Renovation expert and founder of Renovating For Profit Cherie Barber told the Herald Sun not styling your home was “a real estate disaster”.

“The average price for a three- to four-bedroom property to be styled could be anywhere from $2500 to $7000,” she said.

“Research proves it’s self-funding; you get the price back and more.”


Blank canvas

The main things to keep in mind when presenting a vacant home is that it’s clean and light.

Mr Teal said showing a home unfurnished was best suited to properties where rental return was the main driver, rather than a place the buyer actually wants to live in.

He recommended giving the home a coat of paint to freshen it up since features including walls, doors and window frames would become the centre of attention in the absence of furniture.

And fix any obvious signs of wear and tear, such as broken fly screens, leaking taps and stains.

“It’s important to maintain a consistent quality feel throughout,” Mr Teal said.


Styled to perfection

People can sometimes be reluctant to spend money on dressing a home for sale because of the cost attached.

Mr Teal said they also generally underestimated how good styling could affect the end price.

He strongly advised getting a professional stylist on-board to help direct the look. You might spend anything from $2000 to $10,000 for the work, but this should be viewed as an investment.

“What you want to create is something people can picture themselves living in. The more you can make it like that, the more likely people are to form a connection with the property and the better your return is likely to be,” Mr Teal said.

You may decide not to stage every room but look at styling key areas, such as a living room, alfresco space, main bedroom and definitely any rooms at the front of a house.

Mr Teal said furnishing spaces would give people a perspective for room size and what they could comfortably fit in the space.

When it comes to choosing a colour scheme he recommended always starting with a neutral base, then add soft layers of colour and texture with cushions, throws, decorator items and artwork.

And don’t forget to declutter spaces as much as possible – that includes benchtops and shelves.

“Less is really more when staging a home for sale,” Mr Teal said.

“Pack away all the family photos, heirlooms and Dad’s cricket trophies. You want the look to be calming, inviting and simple, and not about you.”

Avoid bulky furniture and dark colours and be mindful of older homes where windows tend to be a lot smaller.

“You need to be quite smart with styling here to lighten up the spaces – lots of light colours and mirrors are what I’d suggest,” Mr Teal said.

A greater emphasis on casual entertaining has meant presentation counts for the outdoor living area as well. This space should be dressed with a relaxed lifestyle focus.

“It’s all about painting a picture of what life here could be like for them,” Mr Teal  said.


Breakout: 5 top styling tips

MAKE a good first impression. By the time someone is three steps into an entry foyer they have a feel for whether they like what they see and whether they want to keep looking. A console table and a piece of art can help set the scene and good lighting is essential.

HAVE a cookbook open on the kitchen bench. It creates a little style moment and will encourage people to wander over, put their hand on the benchtop and envisage how they might enjoy the space.

AVOID big bookcases filled to the brim, unless you have a dedicated library. Instead, go with a small stack of books to dress a coffee table or a hallway table. Stick to lifestyle, architecture or interiors-themed books, not novels.

PICK the eyes out of your furniture. You don’t have to buy or hire everything new. You might keep the old dining table but give it a more contemporary feel by pairing it with some light-coloured modern chairs.

FILL a large vase with oranges and lemons and add a few sprigs of greenery from the garden. It will provide that big burst of colour you’re after and is much cheaper than regularly changing fresh flowers.


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