Preparing the home for Sale – Staging

*written by Suze before the Bella Bella trip

Preparing my cabin for sale was completely overwhelming and emotionally challenging. With over 35 year’s experience in Real Estate, I wasn’t really expecting it.

I made the final decision to sell while I was sailing to Maui this July and when I returned home in early August I thought I’d declutter a bit and get it on the market. I packed a few boxes of non-essential stuff and with each box I filled, I began to realize that I’d need five more…. and then five more.
Carolynn, one of my coaches, a friend and an awesome REALTOR® dropped by and casually mentioned that this would have to go and this would have to be moved and this….. and that…… and the reality of selling my cabin started to come into focus. My aesthetic is quirky and if I wanted to have a successful sale, it would mean significant work.

I wanted to hire a REALTOR® at this point but the one I first considered was unable to assist in this process. Over the next two weeks, I moved about 75% of my stuff into storage, repainted, landscaped and did a multitude of small repairs. Once the stuff was out, the cabin needed a really deep clean. In Whistler, hiring anyone to do anything is virtually impossible so I did most of this work myself with the help of one labourer. It was two weeks of 14-hour days – totally exhausting. I’ve always known that one of the values a great REALTOR® brings to their clients is a network of skilled tradespeople who make that work their priority but I now know that it is one of the most important things – right up there with strategic thinking, negotiation skills and industry relationships.

During this time that I was working on the cabin, several friends were offering styling assistance and I bought what they recommended. New bedding, carpets, pillows, baskets and other stylish modern stuff. I had the cabin looking pretty good and when I finally decided on the REALTOR® who would represent me, she brought in her stager. I was away and when I came back, the cabin had been transformed into a magazine spread. Gone was the art, the antiques, the new carpets and pillows and in their place was a bunch of neutral, everyday, vanilla stuff. I knew what to expect having put hundreds of people through this experience as a REALTOR® but when I walked in the door of my home to find it transformed into a showroom, it was remarkably unsettling. Don’t get me wrong – the place looked awesome and the stager had done an excellent job.

The point of staging is to depersonalize the space so that potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. It’s an important part of the sale process and whenever you can, you should offer the best staging services possible but understanding the emotional impact on the seller is important.

I know from coaching REALTORS® that there can be conflict with the sellers around the staging process. Here is what I learned as a seller: while the REALTOR® and stager feel that they are doing something FOR the seller, the seller may feel during the process that the REALTOR® and stager are doing something TO the seller. The work to get a home ready can be a lot, the psychology of decluttering and packing up their stuff can be complicated and the stress of unravelling the attachment to your home can be a scary and unsettling process. As a REALTOR®, understanding these complicated emotions is essential. Yes, you are doing a great job for your seller but you made need to exercise your professional empathy through this process. Be kind no matter what they say or do and know that out the other end they will likely be very grateful for the expertise you used to help them get a great outcome.