As real estate agents, it’s your business to know what’s trending in the marketplace, so it’s probably not a surprise to hear today’s home buyers are attracted to a balance of simplicity and warmth. So, what’s this trend that’s been all the buzz in recent news?
You guessed it… minimalism!
This single trend in real estate can prompt sales if implemented correctly. But what’s the catch? Well, sellers are often attached to their “stuff.” And that leads to one more question… how can a real estate agent take advantage of this trend and increase sales (without giving their clients separation anxiety, so to speak)?
You’re about to find out.
Make It Easy for Potential Buyers
When we talk about minimalist staging, it’s important to understand that—although decluttering can contribute to the right look—it’s not the same thing.
Where decluttering is about getting rid of items, minimalism is a philosophy that triggers a more simplified lifestyle that brings freedom. It’s about focusing on the essential and removing the excess. The philosophy, however, focuses on learning to live with less, buy less, and need less.
When it comes to selling houses, though, minimalist staging is about creating a home that is inviting and allows potential buyers to easily envision themselves—and their own tastes—in the living spaces.
Create Beautiful Visions
One of the reasons this type of style has grown so popular is because today’s buyers are used to seeing clean, sparse, clutter-free rooms that offer the appearance of luxury. They frequently gauge homes by what they see on Zillow and Trulia, and their attention is captured (or lost) within seconds.
When these buyers begin looking for a new home, they do much of their research before they even think of contacting an agent. Zillow reports 9 out of 10 home buyers, across all generations, look to online sources when seeking a house. So, how can you get them interested enough to contact you for a showing? Well, staging can make a difference… because piquing their interest is a critical first step.
Barb Schwarz, founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, defined it this way: “Staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in.”
When staging, you help to create a home that is appealing to most potential buyers… and it can have an impact for both online photos and in-person showings.
Stage Homes Using the Minimalist Style
The best reason to stage is that it can help make a good first impression… and online photos can get buyers interested. But what’s involved in minimalism and where did it come from anyway?
The minimalist style has its origins in Scandinavian design and may have become more popular due to Ikea, but—though it has some of the same elements—it has evolved over the years. For you, staging in the minimalist style means creating a space with some of the same design and philosophy characteristics, where less is more. This style helps make the home look spacious and airy, with characteristics like simple furniture and neutral colors.
Keep in mind the priority is to avoid distracting from the most important aspects in the home. Therefore, it’s a good idea to decorate for comfort and showcase the home’s best architectural features, arranging furnishings and décor to attract the most buyers.
Although staging has been used primarily for vacant homes or higher-priced listings in the past, it is becoming more common to use this tool. In fact, the benefits may be worth the extra effort for all your listings: faster sales and higher prices.
The National Association of REALTORS® reported that staging can increase the value of a home by 6% to 10% and can greatly decrease the total amount of time on the market. According to a realtor.com article, studies show staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than those that aren’t staged. Plus, the cost of staging a home may be less than keeping it on the market or reducing the listing price. And not all staged rooms are equal. Instead, some rooms have more potential to influence buyers’ decisions—the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. So, it may be worthwhile to focus on these rooms first.
Encourage a Minimalist Approach
This is all great news, right? But what if the home isn’t vacant? Perhaps you can convince sellers of the merits of “less is more,” e.g., less to manage = more mental energy, time, and freedom. Unfortunately, the average home contains over a quarter million items, and many find it difficult to let go of their possessions. So, what can you do?
In this case, it’s time to educate sellers on the benefits of staging and guide them through the process. After all, they want to sell their property at the best price, too, and they trust you to help them.
Coach Them on Preparation
Many who consider selling their homes may have already done some research to get their home ready to sell. But for those who haven’t, you might suggest these tips:
- Declutter/Simplify: This one may be obvious, but what they see as uncluttered and what you see as uncluttered may be entirely different. Remind them to stick with the essentials. Paring down to the basics will not only help sell their home but will also make it easier when the actual move takes place. They can start by deciding what they want to trash, give away/sell, store, or put away. If they have many items they want to keep but aren’t currently using, they may benefit from a service like PODS. Be careful of removing too much from the home though. You don’t want it to feel stark and uninviting.
- Depersonalize: Many stagers recommend removing most personal items because the idea is to allow the potential buyer to envision themselves in the home. It’s important to remove much of what might remind buyers of someone else or those items that are of an unusual taste—family photos, stuff on the fridge, anything related to hobbies. Some suggest removing it all, where others feel a balance is more appropriate. After all, if the seller is still living in the home, it can’t be too staged, or it won’t be authentic.
- Clean: This is so important! According to tips on moving.com, sellers should clean like never before—baseboards, ceilings, ceiling fans, windows, etc. This not only appeals to buyers but tells them the seller has put every effort into maintaining the property.
Focus on the Details
To help with minimalist staging, here are a few other tips that can enable buyers to “mentally move in” while still keeping the area cozy:
- Enhance living spaces and show their functionality. This is where playing up the home’s architectural features (e.g., built-in bookshelves or fireplaces) comes in.
- Pay attention to the size and shape of the room and emphasize current style guidelines.
- Consider having a theme for each room that highlights its purpose and helps potential buyers to envision themselves living there. For example, you may want to display items on a dining table that demonstrates how the room is used—with settings and a centerpiece.
- Buy or paint new appliances if they are outdated.
- Give the walls a fresh coat of paint, if possible—use a simple color palette, with neutral colors (beige, white, gray) and warm textures, to appeal to more buyers. Accent walls may also work well if they are simple, contrasting colors.
- Stick to only the required furniture—keep it simple.
- Eliminate excess items like books; pay attention to what is visible.
- Be careful of the stored items, too. Organize cupboards, drawers, and closets.
- Rearrange furniture to keep space as open and walkable as possible.
- Assure the lighting is good—make sure lights (including those in closets) are working; replace outdated fixtures if necessary. Use natural lighting as much as possible, too.
- Incorporate fresh plants or flowers (not artificial) as part of the décor to add life and color.
- Make sure only a few personal items are displayed that tie the story together, perhaps a family photo on a bedroom dresser or a small chest with toys in a playroom.
- Create curb appeal—the first impression is an important one and can help to increase the value of a home. Make sure the view from the curb is good. A nice front door (no peeling paint), a mowed lawn, or a nice garden is important. Consider power washing. A simple doormat or potted plant on the porch may be helpful, too.
- The underlying theme for tying everything together? Be intentional with what’s on display.
If the home is vacant, many of these ideas can still be helpful as you prepare to stage the home. And—if your schedule is too full—consider hiring a professional stager.
Take Before-and-After Photos
Okay, you’re just about ready for the actual showing. Of course, you already know that high-quality photos are needed to display online; potential buyers like seeing visually appealing, well-designed homes. But there’s one additional step we recommend you take.
Taking photos before you stage a home can allow buyers to view different scenarios. For example, buyers may want to see a currently staged bedroom as a home office instead. Different staging can be handled virtually with an organization like BoxBrownie.com. This is obviously an extra step, but it may just close the deal.
Now that you’ve done everything you can to make your staging the best it can be, get ready for the sale!
Do you have any other ideas for minimalist staging? Please add your thoughts in the comments!