We stage our listings, because it works. When we're listing a property it often takes a few weeks from our original meeting with the home owner, for the listing to go online. This is because our stager needs to view the home and make recommendations, the work has to be done, the photos and video have to be shot and edited and then it all has to get uploaded. It takes time, and we wouldn't waste all that time if it didn't work. It helps sell listings faster and for more money.
Now think about this from the other perspective... a buyer.
When you're looking a listings, and you choose the ones that look like show homes (or the ones that are show homes) you're paying more. Granted, you're paying for work that someone else has done, but you're probably paying a premium for it. Choosing a home that needs a little work - whether it be through your own efforts, or by professionals - can save you money. It may also give you a little more time to make a decision, when the market is moving quickly, as it is right now.
Here are the top 5 things to ignore when looking for a home:
Painting your home has the highest return on investment of any improvement you can make, mostly because it's pretty much the least expensive improvement you can make. We have seen homes sit on the market, simply because they are some horrible mauve or dated mint green, when all it would take is a new paint job. Just because a home is beige, or the latest trendy greyish colour, doesn't mean you won't end up repainting to personalize your new home anyway. It's not like it's any harder to paint over "ashes of roses" than beige.
If carpet is much more than 10 years old, it should probably be replaced. If the current owner replaces the carpet, just to make their home more attractive to buyers, they're probably going to choose the cheapest carpet they can find. Wouldn't you rather choose your own flooring, be it carpet or something else, that looks and lasts the way you want?
While replacing wallpaper is more difficult than simply re-painting, it's not that much more difficult. It's certainly not a job that requires skill... think local teenager, or "Odd Job Nation" your own elbow grease. It's a relatively quick and inexpensive fix that many people are just not willing to do, and that is an opportunity.
Like carpet, appliances have a lifespan, and unless they're brand new you're probably going to have to replace some or all of the appliances in a home while you live there anyway - why not choose appliances you like? An old or ugly fridge should not be a deal breaker. You may even be able to work a deal for an allowance for new appliances, or arrange for the seller to put new appliances of your choice in before you take possession. Just make sure your lender is aware and approves of any arrangements not included in the listing.
5. Window Coverings
Yes, you can spend a fortune on window coverings, but you don't have to. You can replace vertical blinds and horrible valences very affordably. The transformation below can be done for about $40. It's the windows behind the curtains that are really important.
Of course, the argument against updating a home is that it's hard work, it takes time, and it's not included in your mortgage. There are also many arguments in favour of doing the updates yourself - you get the end result you want, you save money, and you don't pay interest through your mortgage on improvements. Plus, there is something really satisfying about enjoying the results of your own efforts at personalizing your home.