If you’re moving, it’s probably going to be the most stressful and expensive undertaking of your entire year. That’s why staging your home to sell is a worthwhile investment—your home will likely sell faster and for more money, you’ll draw in qualified potential buyers with the images of each room’s beautiful design, and you can hand over the entire process to an expert.
…But it is an upfront investment. And sometimes, you just can’t afford it.
Fortunately, we’ve partnered with Compass Concierge, a program that pays for services like home staging for you and then recoups the cost from the sale price of your home.
Staged homes, on average, sell for more than 5% over the list price, which usually means tens of thousands more dollars that it would have sold for without staging. The cost of staging will only make a small dent in the extra money you get from the sale.
So, if you’re thinking of selling your home, check out the Compass Concierge program to see how it can help you afford home staging in Washington D.C.
Here’s how the Compass Concierge program works
1. You—the home seller—check to see if you qualify for the program via their website.
To qualify, your property cannot be a short sale, in foreclosure, or in need of major structural renovations. You also have to list your home exclusively with a real estate agent with Compass.
2. Your Compass Concierge representative will assess your home and put together a plan for prepping it to sell.
Services may include more than just staging—such as painting, cleaning, minor renovations, and landscaping.
3. You will contract directly with service providers like TACTIC Staging, and Compass Concierge will pay the fees.
Just like you would normally, but you don’t have to foot the bill.
4. When your sale closes, Compass Concierge will send you an invoice for the total amount of the services.
There’s no added fee for participating in the program, and no interest added to your bill.
And that’s it! You walk away from the sale of your home with more money than you would have without staging.
What is Compass?
Compass is a real estate technology company. But for home buyers and sellers, you can think of the company just like a regular real estate brokerage firm. Most of the technology side of the company has to do with streamlining the process for their agents—not necessarily for homeowners.
The program is designed for home sellers who want to stage or improve their home (so that it sells for more) but can’t afford to pay for those services at the moment. That means that if you can afford to stage your home on your own, then there’s no reason to sign up for the Compass Concierge program.
If you’ve considered staging your home to sell in Washington D.C. but thought you couldn’t afford it, then you should apply for the Compass Concierge program. You might just get everything you wanted!
In a city like Washington D.C., prepping the “bones” of your house before investing in home staging is well worth it.
Home staging is all about making your house seem like someone else’s dream home: well-maintained, sparkling clean, beautifully designed, and worth a lot of money. But though staging your home is the biggest part of creating a fantasy for buyers, home staging works most effectively when your house is a clean slate.
So, how do you get your family home ready for staging? How do you take a cluttered, lived-in home and turn it into the clean slate your home stager needs?
Luckily, getting your house ready for home staging is not that difficult or time-consuming. As a home stager in Washington D.C., there are five main steps I always advise clients to do before staging their home to sell:
1. Pack up as much you can
Often, people put their house on the market before they’ve even thought about packing or sorting through their things. However, if you know you want to invest in home staging, you should start packing as soon as you can.
That doesn’t mean you have to pack everything in boxes right away—after all, you might still be living in your home while it’s on the market. But it does mean you should do the work of sorting through your things, getting rid of everything you don’t want to take with you when you move, and packing up all the items you don’t need daily. If packing feels like too daunting of a task, you should consider using the KonMari Method to pare down your items.
2. Make easy improvements to your home
You may not be in a position to remodel your home, upgrade appliances, or replace the flooring before you sell. However, everyone can make these easy (and inexpensive) improvements that help create the impression that your home is up-to-date and well cared for:
Paint dingy walls
Repair cracked tiles in kitchens or bathrooms
Clean grout in kitchens and bathrooms
Replace outdated light fixtures
Replace broken blinds
Just investing a couple hundred dollars and a weekend into making these minor repairs can mean the difference between a home that looks like it “needs work” and a home that looks well maintained.
3. Deep clean your home
If your home is dirty or dusty, it makes buyers think that you didn’t maintain your home well (even though you likely did). Dirt or dinge can also be a distractor from the best elements of your home.
So, I advise clients to put in the time and effort themselves or hire professional cleaners to deep clean their home. Unfortunately, your average weekend cleaning isn’t going to pass muster with nosy buyers poking into every closet and peering into every corner. Here are some areas that routine cleanings miss:
Dust ceiling corners and ceiling fans
Sweep out the fireplace
Steam clean carpets
Vacuum or mop beneath remaining furniture
The last thing you want is for potential buyers to start thinking about how much the house needs a good scrub.
4. Spruce up your outdoor areas
Did you know that 99% of realtors say that the curb appeal of a home is important for attracting buyers? If you’re investing in home staging, you need buyers to be impressed enough by the outside of your home that they make it inside to see your beautiful staging.
Sometimes staging will cover outdoor furniture for deck spaces and porches, but curb appeal goes beyond décor. Here are some easy fixes to make sure the outside of your home is worthy of the inside:
Paint your front door (especially if the paint is peeling or chipping)
Clean out your gutters
Rent a power washer to clean your walkways, driveway, and your deck or porch
Mow your lawn or weed flower beds
Make sure outdoor light fixtures are working, and if not, replace them
Clean the outside of your windows
Replace the mailbox and house numbers if they’re falling apart or dingy
Remove any personal lawn ornaments
And if you don’t have any landscaping or outdoor space at all? You don’t have to create a gorgeous green view overnight. Instead, just keep the focus on ensuring everything is neat, clean, and functional.
5. Last step? Call a home stager!
Your home has been cleaned, organized, and eliminated of clutter. The outdoor space has been made to look the best it can. Now, it’s time to bring in a professional home stager.
The home stager’s job is to take your “clean slate” and fill it with tasteful furniture, décor, and design that will appeal to the majority of buyers in your area (as well as highlight the very best elements of your home!).
Why should you invest in home staging in Washington D.C.?
When you have a home stager on your team, you don’t have to be a salesperson for your home, explaining what makes your home great. The design will do that for you. Plus, staging your home allows you to relax, knowing that you’ve done all you can to get the highest sale price for your house.
Once home staging started becoming more mainstream… it became even more mainstream. That’s because as more and more homes on the market are staged to sell, those that aren’t staged start to stand out—in a bad way.
No one wants their home to be the one house in their neighborhood that’s up for sale completely vacant or stuffed with a decade’s worth of clutter. Competing against other homes that are tidy and tastefully staged with up-to-date, broadly appealing décor and furniture is going to be a challenge.
And this matters even in so-called seller’s markets (like the kind we currently have in D.C.). Your home would probably sell eventually because buyers are hungry for space. But would your home fetch the same price as a home that’s designed to create that “homey” feeling for potential buyers? Probably not.
Plus, not staging your home when everyone else is means that your house will likely be the last to sell. It’s kind of like being picked last for the baseball team. Someone will eventually choose your home, but it might be because the house they really wanted was snapped up too quickly.
HGTV has raised expectations
Most people I know watch HGTV shows on the occasion—and many of them watch them religiously. In fact, Statista found that at least 25% of Americans in all age groups have watched HGTV in the past month. There’s something so satisfying about seeing someone’s home ownership dreams come to life.
An unintended consequence of America getting into home design is that buyers are expecting a TV-ready home. The most recent National Association of Realtors survey found that 20% of buyers were disappointed when homes weren’t as stunning as those they see on television. And a disappointed buyer is not going to get into a bidding war over your home.
Additionally, with the growing influence of interior design television shows (and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram), people are less likely to make the trek out to see your home if they haven’t been enticed by the glossy photographs online.
Drawing people out from behind their screens and into your home is where staging matters even more—after all, no one buys a home they haven’t seen in person. When a home is staged, buyers are 40% more likely to actually visit in person.
What does this mean for you, if you’re selling a home?
It means that the bar has been raised for home sellers. If you want your home to sell for top dollar, it’s worth investing in real estate staging.
One report estimates that every $100 spent on home staging is $400 more in your closing price. And another source found that staged homes in the ever-competitive seller’s market in New York City actually sold for $11,000 more than un-staged homes.
If you’ve ever moved before, you know just how critical an extra week or month of time can be. It can mean the difference between having the money and not having the money to purchase your new dream home before someone else bids higher. Or, it could mean paying two mortgages at the same time while you wait for your old home to finally sell.
It was going to be a challenge to make this 900 sq. ft. home functional and homey for a family of four, but we jumped at the chance—not only because we love a challenge, but also because there’s a big, important cause behind this home.
IndieDwell, the company who built it, has a mission to make affordable housing units much more functional, beautiful, and healthier for the families that live there. Currently, most affordable housing for low-income families is filled with problems like poor energy efficiency, mold growth, and the presence of lead. IndieDwell’s homes are built to be energy efficient, which means they stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and they come with significantly lower energy bills. They’re also clean, modern, and surprisingly roomy for multiple people, finally giving many families that feeling of a real home without the cost.
The HUD Showcase was an opportunity for IndieDwell to get this cause and their homes in front lawmakers and national media. So the pressure was on to stage this home quickly and beautifully—so that everyone could see just how stunning these low-cost, IndieDwell container homes could really be.
We made it functional for families of four by balancing separate spaces with open concepts
Since these homes are made for families, it was important that each room feel like a private retreat for different family members. At the same time, we also wanted the heart of the home to feel as big as possible, which meant not cordoning off spaces with bulky furniture.
By ensuring that all the furniture in the shared spaces was pushed against the walls and angled toward a central, open space, we created a living room/kitchen/dining area that you were able to freely move around in without feeling cramped.
On the other hand, we gave each room its own specific function—like a nursery, master bedroom, or sitting area—so that there was plenty of privacy for families.
We used light-toned home decor and neutral color to make small spaces feel bigger
We’ve previously writtenabout how to make your small space feel bigger and more functional just by using sneaky home decor tricks. And using those tips for this home was especially important since at least four people would be sharing 900 sq. ft!
The key design choices we made were to keep colors neutral for the furniture and accessories while incorporating natural textures like leather, wood, and real plants. This way, the space could flow without visual interruption (seeming bigger), but it won’t ever feel sterile or boring.
We made this home appeal to everyone with contemporary and warm home decor
The biggest challenge with staging a home is to choose decor and furniture that feels perfect for each unique space, is modern and updated, and yet appeals to most people. You want the home to feel lived in and inviting while still coming across as something of a blank canvas for potential buyers to see themselves making their own.
This shipping container added another challenge: How do you make a home that initially seems “temporary” really feel like a permanent home?
To give this home a permanent look, we chose beautiful artwork for each room and sturdy furniture. Artwork doesn’t take up any additional space or darken a small room, but it does add those punches of personality that make a room seem less empty. Meanwhile, sturdy furniture like a cozy headboard can add some weight to a room.
We overcame the narrowness of the home by creating “moments” through home decor
A significant challenge of shipping container homes is that shipping containers are much narrower than traditional homes. So, we had to get creative to make sure that walking through this home didn’t feel like you were running the length of a shipping container.
One of the ways we overcame the narrowness was by finding places to create moments through design, breaking up the length without taking up precious space. For example, we added a charming, mid-century modern-inspired sideboard and eye-catching piece of art at one end of the long living space.
Ultimately, this project was a joy to design! We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to contribute to the success of IndieDwell’s amazing mission for better, healthier affordable housing options. Even though we didn’t get to see the home before we designed it, the end result was better than we could have hoped for.
If you’ve ever wondered how you can possibly live comfortably in your tiny apartment, you’re not alone. During the past decade, rents have risen 28% for most cities, but spaces have shrunk nationwide.
That means that more people than ever before are living in small, urban apartments. In the Mid-Atlantic, the average size of a rental apartment is 877 square feet. That’s not exactly roomy.
Whether you’ve just moved into a small space or you’re trying to sell or rent out your smallapartment, there are some simple ways you can make it look and feel bigger.
In this article, I’m sharing my best interior design tips for getting the most function out of your small apartment.
How to make a small apartment look bigger
Keep colors neutral, light and consistent
Paint each room the same color, ideally a light shade like beige or eggshell. This way, transitions from room to room feel seamless. This is important because different wall colors for every room create a visual divide that can highlight how small each section of your apartment is.
For the same reason, choose accessories in a similar neutral shade. That includes rugs, throw pillows, blankets, furniture and wall art. And if you have the opportunity to update your flooring, opt for tiles or carpeting in a similar neutral shade.
Hang mirrors on your walls
You’ve probably heard before that mirrors can make spaces look bigger, and it’s true. A few large mirrors in place of wall art can help your tiny apartment feel less cramped.
When possible, use mirrored doors for closets for a chance to incorporate a floor-length mirror in your main living spaces.
Add lighting wherever possible
Well-lit spaces feel bigger than dark rooms. Especially if your apartment has terrible natural light, you can install additional lighting to give your rooms some dimension.
This can include recessed lighting, undercabinet lighting and floor lamps.
Choose simple and organic-feeling furniture
Furniture pieces that have slightly round shapes can help your space feel more harmonious. Stay clear of loud patterns or complex designs. That’s because statement pieces can overwhelm a small space quickly.
I recommend choosing acrylic furniture—also known as ghost furniture. The minimalist style of acrylic pieces helps furniture disappear into the background of your small space.
Get rid of your drapes or curtains
If your apartment is tiny, you don’t want visually heavy drapes closing in. Plus, you want to encourage as much light as possible to come through your windows. Instead of drapes, invest in blinds for each of your windows.
How to make your small space more functional
Get furniture with hidden storage
In tiny apartments, you likely don’t have the luxury of spacious closets or cabinets. You can make up for this by choosing furniture that does double the work with hidden storage space.
For your coffee table, you could use a large chest with plenty of space inside. The same goes for end tables or side tables. When choosing a bed, look for frames with built-in storage underneath.
Install pocket doors
A pocket door is a door that slides to open. This can be a major space-saver for small apartments. You can leave your pocket doors open without compromising any space in an adjoining room.
Make sure your furniture is apartment-sized
Large furniture will only make your space harder to move around in. Instead, look for pieces that are slightly smaller than average, or that are designed especially for small spaces. For example, choose a full bed instead of a queen or king and small sofa chairs instead of a full-sized couch.
Build shelving for extra storage
Common opportunities for out-of-the-way shelving include underneath the stairs, above your bed and above the sink in your bathroom or kitchen. You can use shelving to replace floor-standing furniture like end tables, side tables and even dressers or countertops.
Get drop-leaf tables and desks + stackable chairs
Drop-leaf furniture has sections that can fold out. This means you can make your surfaces bigger when you have guests. Add folding chairs that are easily stackable to save space in your kitchen or dining room when you’re not using them.
Be organized & reduce your stuff
In small spaces it’s important that every item has its place, because you just don’t have room for clutter. In addition, every item should have a clear purpose. You don’t have space for things you don’t need or clothes you’ve outgrown.
Home organization expert Marie Kondo advocates for organizing by categories like clothing, books, papers and sentimental items. Pick each item up and evaluate how you feel—if it doesn’t “spark joy,” then discard it.
How to deal with common small space challenges
Challenge #1: You wish your apartment had an additional room
You may want another room to use as a home office or guest room, but your small apartment leaves little opportunity for building in an extra room.
Instead, you can opt for using permanent or temporary room dividers to give guests or yourself some privacy. If your apartment has high ceilings, you can construct a mezzanine floor, which is like a loft, to serve as a semi-private office or bedroom.
Challenge #2: You don’t have space for a dining table
A lot of small apartments have a kitchen and living room, but no proper place for a dining table. Many people don’t want to eat dinner on their couch every night—and they also don’t want to have a table in the center of their living space.
If this is your situation, you should look for a wall-mounted drop leaf table. This way, your dining table can be tucked smoothly against your wall when not in use.
Challenge #3: There’s no place to store bulkier items
Not everything you need has a daily function. For example, you have some extra pillows and blankets on hand for guests, or you want to store your big winter coats away when the weather gets warmer.
When you simply have no additional storage space, you can use vacuum bags to reduce the size of your clothing and bedding. Then, you can easily tuck it under your bed or at the back of a closet.
Challenge #4: You don’t have a closet
Especially if you’re trying to sell or rent out your small apartment, having no bedroom closet can be a deal breaker for many buyers and renters. It’s best to be proactive about offering an alternative that won’t take up too much precious space.
I recommend installing an open rack and shelving unit. In addition, a tall bookcase could serve as shelving for accessories or shoes.
Above all, focus on natural light, organization and function
Each space is unique, so you should experiment with the strategies I’ve included here to determine what’s best for your small apartment. You might even come up with your own ways to save space.
If you’re finding it overwhelming to know where to start, when it comes to small spaces, there are three guidelines you need to remember to guide every decorating decision: encourage natural light, be very organized and opt for functional pieces over purely decorative.
If you’re interested in staging your small apartment to sell—fast—contact us for a consultation.
Cold weather interior decorating involves so much more than just putting up an artificial Christmas tree and tacking some lights around your house.
If you’re putting your house on the market this winter, you are probably well aware that winter is the “worst” time to sell your house. Why? Bad weather in many parts of the country (yes, especially Washington D.C.) discourages people from venturing out to showings. Plus, just like in the fall, people tend to be busier than they are during the warmer months, leaving them less time to think about a big move.
But the cold temperatures also provide a great opportunity to show potential buyers the cozy, warm home your house can be for them. After all, what says home more than a roaring fireplace, flickering candlelight and just a hint of Christmas?
Arrange your living room seating to face the fireplace, and then decorate the mantel. You can do Christmas décor here if you’d like, or you can opt for a more winter-neutral style.
I like adding a couple of large hurricane candle holders and candles, and filling in the space between with white and green fresh flowers like Poinsettia, Paperwhites or Amaryllis. Flowers not your style? Fresh garland is always an easy, elegant solution, or you can choose a few of your favorite crystal vases and fill them with pine cones, dried fruits like lemon, orange slices and pomegranate, or fresh cinnamon sticks.
3. Make sure your Christmas tree isn’t overwhelming.
Plenty of people, especially families, love hunting down the biggest tree they can find and then spending the weeks leading up to Christmas piling gifts underneath it. But when you’re trying to help potential buyers envision your house as their future home, an imposing, cluttered Christmas tree can look jarring. Just for this year, go for a smaller tree than usual—and definitely make sure there is space to easily walk around it.
4. Include soft, snugly fabrics.
Update your pillows, throws and rugs to be extra-cozy. That means plush fabrics, faux fur and velvet. And don’t forget about a well-placed fleece or wool throw.
5. Be sparing with scents.
It’s tempting to pull out all the stops when it comes to wintertime scents. A bowl of potpourri, an evergreen-scented diffuser in every room and all your candles—why not? However, when it comes to scent, less is actually more. All that’s necessary to create a delicate scent throughout your house is a couple of your favorite, scent-complementary candles. You don’t even need to light them; just open the lid and the scent should naturally disperse.
6. Keep your windows clear.
Something about the winter season makes us eager to decorate our windows (maybe it’s nostalgia for frosty windows on a cold winter morning?). There’s a lot of “Christmas window decoration” advice out there, usually involving wreaths. But… when you’re trying to show your house in its best light, it’s important that your décor isn’t blocking any natural light from getting in. So decorate your walls and mantels, but keep your windows clear.
Winter outdoor decorations don’t have to be complicated. A simple, tasteful wreath on the front door can do a lot to make your house feel alive and inviting on a cold day.
8. Choose an elegant color palette.
Don’t go overboard on green, red and silver or gold. Too much “Christmas color” can end up looking tacky. Additionally, your winter décor should highlight your existing décor, fitting in seamlessly.
9. Make your dining table stand out with a beautiful centerpiece.
The dining room or kitchen is the heart of the home, where many people spend most of their time indoors. Therefore, including a truly stunning centerpiece can help this room feel put-together and homey. I like to use fresh greens like cedar, magnolia, olive leaf and myrtle, as well as candles and fruits such as pomegranate or apples. Check out other natural, DIY winter centerpiece ideas on Pinterest.
10. Add luxury and light to your space with mirrors.
As the days get shorter and darker, winter interiors must rely on more than just a strand or two of elegant Christmas lights to feel warm, airy and filled with light. It might sound silly, but incorporating shiny objects and mirrors into your decoration can really boost the impression of size and light in your space. Not to mention, it’s a great way to infuse a sense of luxury into your house, which means potential buyers feel your house is worth more.
Selling your house in winter in D.C. might be more challenging than when the temperatures aren’t freezing cold, but strategic decorating can help you transform your dark winter hideaway into a contemporary, cozy and inviting space for potential buyers.
If you’d rather leave the decorating to the professionals, contact us for a hassle-free home-staging process to sell your home (even in the winter!) fast.
You want to sell your home fast and for as much money as possible, that’s a given. But you might be wondering if it’s really worth it to invest in staging your home before selling it. After all, isn’t that just more money you’re spending? We’re going to show you why most real estate agents across greater Washington D.C. recommend their clients hire certified home stagers, and how it saves them time, stress, and most importantly, money. Read on for TACTIC’s top 8 reasons home-staging is worth it.
Subscribe for more great tips on home staging as well.
You get more money
Hiring a certified home stager is the second-best investment you can make during the home selling process. The statistics don’t lie: staged homes sell at an average of 6.32% over the list price, while un-staged homes sell at a mere 1.6% over the list price. For a home listed at $500,000, that’s a difference of nearly $24,000!
You sell your home faster
It may seem obvious, but it’s true: the longer your home stays on the market, the less it eventually sells for. The National Association of Realtors surveyed and found that homes that sold in the first 4 weeks averaged 1% more than the list price, but at 4 to 12 weeks, the buying price averaged 5% less than the list price…. and by the time your home’s been on the market for 24 weeks, statistics say that it will probably have dropped more than 10% lower than list price. Staging your home could cut the time it spends on the market in half—garnering you thousands of dollars more.
You get a huge return on investment
Home staging costs between a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand, depending on the size of the property. But when you’re talking about an average ROI of 586% (yes, you read that right, 586%!), the initial payout is miniscule.
You leverage what buyers want to see
Home staging companies like TACTIC always have their finger on the pulse of the real estate market. We know what motivates a sale. Most home sellers don’t. For one thing, it’s hard to see your home objectively after you’ve spent years building a life there. For another, most home sellers aren’t interior designers. Hiring a certified home stager with expert knowledge in both interior design and real estate is the most effective way to ensure that each room in your home is packaged for maximum appeal to the greatest pool of buyers.
You tap into the online market
Did you know that 95% of home buyers look at homes online before they decide to visit? You should. Having professional photographs of your home to post online (think: Zillow, or Trulia) is an incredible way to boost traffic to your property. TACTIC includes professional photographs of staged rooms with our packages, and so do many home staging companies. You’ll have potential buyers drooling over your well-lit, airy, impeccably designed place before they even step foot inside.
You undercut the competition from the get-go
The real estate market is notoriously competitive. Staging your apartment or home before selling is the simplest way to set your property apart. Successful agents know that the key to competing is professional staging, because it creates compelling online presentations, drives buyer traffic to the home, and turns prospects into buyers.
You don’t have to be a salesperson
“So, what is that room for? …. Er, the flow from the kitchen to the living room seems a little odd… Oh, we’d have to repaint all these walls, I guess.” If you’ve ever sold a home before, these sorts of comments probably sound eerily familiar, and the people making them are not exactly pumped up about your house. In fact, only 10% of home buyers are able to visualize the potential of a home when it’s empty, which means they’re going need a top-notch salesperson to ‘help’ them imagine it. However, if your property is strategically staged to highlight the best of each room, you won’t have to answer to comments like these—your home will do it for you.
You can relax, at least a little
Selling your home is stressful. It can be a huge relief to have expert home stagers like TACTIC actively working to prepare your home to sell, so it’s not all on you. At TACTIC, we manage the home staging process from start to finish (or you can opt for our do-it-yourself option), so you can focus on finding your new home, instead of worrying if you’ve done everything you can to prepare your house or apartment to sell.