Staging or Remodeling Your Redondo Beach Home to Sell

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I've recently had somewhat of a change of heart regarding both staging and remodeling in order to sell based on what I see going on right now. Here's why. As markets change, the best strategy is the most flexible one. When prices were on the decline during the housing downturn, it really didn't make a lot of sense to spend any money to sell your home. There was simply no assurances of recouping that investment. As prices were running up last year and every property received multiple offers, why spend money you didn't have to. But today we're in a different market and because of the price points we're at in Redondo Beach, buyers simply expect and want more (as is their prerogative).

Let me be more precise in what I mean by staging (as opposed to "presentation"). I'm specifically referring to bringing in a professional staging company that will supplement or provide furniture accessories and other items strategically placed in the property in order for it to show better. I am not referring to what I usually do with my listings. That is, to walk the house with the sellers and help them prepare a better presentation which most often involves addition by subtraction, ie moving a number of items to the garage or off site so that the home is less cluttered. Removing clutter is actually one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to enhance your sales price and really costs nothing. But not what I'm referring to here. (For my 7 Home Seller's Tips, follow this link.) My own theory on de-cluttering is this. Because most people are preponderantly "visual" in their orientation and most buyers are looking at many houses on any given day, the more "stuff" you have laying around, the bigger the distraction and the less likely that buyers who view your home will remember its best features. Your clutter becomes clutter in their heads.

Here's a video of a North Redondo Beach townhome I recently listed and sold that was presented well and properly de-cluttered at low or no cost:

So, why would you crack open the checkbook and pay a staging company? First, your property may be vacant and creating a warmer feeling in your home can work wonders. There's many reasons that homes are vacant. You may have already moved to your up leg or relocation. Or the home for sale may have previously been tenant occupied. And some homes just look better with "stuff" in them.

Another reason to pay a professional stager is if your home for sale has a floorplan that leaves potential buyers asking "where do I put my TV?".  In other words, not a standard layout or one that is hard to visualize where everything goes. Or is deceptive in the size or use of the space.

The last reason might simply be that people don't like your furniture and taste. Ouch. I recently sold a home, I'll keep the address private, that how should I put it - could have been decorated differently. At one point I asked Brokers in the area what they thought about the property and what I should do and the feedback was tell the owner to get his stuff out of there and stage it.

Neatly Staged - Nice Recessed Lighting
Depending on the size of the house, staging can be upwards of $3500 per month or even approach $10K for a 4 bedroom 2300+ sq ft property. There's usually a few month minimum so that's not an investment to be looked at lightly.

Which leads me to remodeling and updating your home specifically for sale. This is another area I've changed my opinion on (for the reasons mentioned above) recently as the housing market has changed.

What I'm seeing currently, is that there are some circumstances where doing updates or even remodeling can be beneficial in unlocking the equity you have but won't otherwise see unless you spend a few bucks (assuming you have to budget to do so).

One of the most cost effective projects you can do is to improve the lighting. Many homes in Redondo Beach still have "drop ceilings" in the kitchens with ugly florescent lights. Get rid of it. It is a relatively inexpensive handyman project if you are not handy enough to do it yourself. Probably less than $500. Actually a lot less.

The next most cost effective project is to install recess lighting in any flat ceilings in larger living areas. Depending on what you put in and how large the room, budget about $1000 for a typical Redondo Beach living room. You'll get nice return on both of these investments. And I've yet to meet a buyer who prefers plastic drop ceilings in the kitchen or dark rooms that need to be lit with multiple lamps (but I'm sure there's one out there).

Next up for bang for the buck is removing popcorn ceilings. This is a messy and sometimes hazardous job that may run into the multiple thousands of dollars but will definitely help sell your home. If you remove the popcorn and install recessed lighting, even better. You most likely not only will get the money back but will sell your home quicker and most likely for a higher price as well.

Last up, at least for this blog post, is flooring. This can be a very expensive proposition and there's no guarantee that the floors you put in will even be what the buyers want. I had one sale recently where brand new bamboo floors were pulled out as soon as escrow closed and replaced! But there are some instances where putting in new floors makes sense.

For example, I had a listing recently where there was a leak from the refrigerator creating water damage to the main laminate floor as well as damage to the sub floor. Fortunately the sellers were able to recoup some money from their HO6 insurance and are now most likely putting down new engineered wood floors to replace the laminate.

But even if you don't have insurance money to play with, you might consider this project anyway. You definitely want to go with a good grade of engineered wood. Unless you start looking at exotics, budget about $10 a sq ft installed (and you can do this for less). So, if you have an older home with worn carpet in the living room, spend $5-10K on floors. You'll most likely get it back and then some.

In a future post I'll address kitchens, bathrooms and other projects. Be good.