staging your flip

I have a guest post for you today from my friend Kelly Payne on staging your flip for a faster sale. Kelly and her husband Aaron are real estate investors in Tulsa, OK.

You may remember that Kelly was featured in my series “Successful Women In Real Estate Investing”.  


Staging Her Flip; Her Favorite Part or the Most Frustrating Part of the Process?

For me, staging is the most intense and frustrating step in selling a house, but when it’s done, I end up saying it’s my favorite.  It requires a certain amount of pulling together concrete details that does not come naturally to me; but it also requires an appreciation for beauty and planning that I love.

I don’t stage each vacant house I sell or list. I tend to think it’s only worth the cost if you need an extra “Uumph” for the property; it’s a bit overpriced, it’s not in a high-demand neighborhood, it’s a buyer’s market, or it has some layout or functional challenges that staging can explain.

In this case, I was listing an adorable 2-bed bungalow in a trendy, highly desirable neighborhood in Midtown Tulsa. It didn’t need staging. But I did it anyway. Partly because I believed the staging would highlight how spacious the house really was, but also because I wanted to showcase the very cool blend of modern and traditional elements it had.


Start with a Vision

This is the fun part for me: come up with ideas. Who is the ideal buyer for this house? (Who likes modern and vintage?) What would they like? (Probably something flea-market antique meets upscale upholstered furniture.) Where do they shop? (West Elm!) What is their lifestyle? (Probably young and professional.) I get fuzzy images that eventually become actual answers.

Ideally, I’m going to give them a glimpse of not their dream home, but their dream life.  A snapshot. Like art: notstaging your flip real, but inspirational. I also think gone are the days when you need to put a tray with coffee cups on the master bed, or set the dining room table.  We’re tired of that, I think. The goal is for potential buyers to wonder if it’s really staged, or if the coolest person they know lives here.

Ironically, I’m not trendy or cool myself, and I don’t know the style buzz words, so my vision for this house sounded like this: midcentury modern, young, professional, West Elm, dark wood, metal, orange, clean, simple, pops of green sleek plants and white.

And then you let Google do its thing. Thank Goodness for Google Images. My vision becomes keywords, which become saved images or links and a sort of vision board. I take an inventory of what we already have on hand. And then I go shopping.


Rubber and Road

This is where I falter. This is the part where my friends get tired of me and say, “Trust yourself Kelly”.  I’m always over-thinking. So I will tell you what I will never do but should: trust your eye. If you’re drawn to it, trust yourself. And remember something else: it’s probably returnable!

Here are some things I try to keep in mind:

  • Furniture placement needs to feel open, highlight the size of the room, but also feel like someone could actually enjoy living here.
  • If I introduce an accent color (like the gold and white in the living room), it needs to be there more than once. Except for the Pop of Color. It can be there only once, but must sync with the rest.
  • Commitment is a struggle. So choose the bigger or higher-priced items first. Usually, that means the sofa.
  • The biggest impact room is usually the living room. But if possible, stage the living, dining and master. Put little touches in the bathroom and kitchen.


The Nitty Gritty

Staging your flipFor this house, I ended up with a ton of different sources.

As I said, I’m not a concrete details, doer type of person, so I inevitably ended up at Target the night before the photographer came, in the throw pillow aisle with 15 or 20 pillows on the floor, having a panic attack.

Some tips:

  • Use what you have. Several pieces of art were left behind by the sellers to use. The photographer (who is an artist first) allowed us to hang some of her original art (with her business cards on the coffee table!).
  • Lowe’s has the best tropical plant selection in the middle of winter. Hands down.
  • Rent some of your furniture. I used CORT Furniture Rental for much of the living room furniture and loved how it turned out. I did a 3-month lease so that I had enough time to use it for another listing I knew was coming up as well.


Tying It Together

Some things that I’m a stickler on that may or may not be as important as I think are:

  • Everything perfectly clean. Some areas that don’t get enough attention are baseboards, window sills, door jambs, windows (inside and out), doors and light switches.
  • And don’t forget the exterior: the driveway, sidewalk and front porch need to be swept and have clean edges. Get a new doormat, fresh mulch, flowers and patio furniture of some kind.
  • No scents in the house except the smell of fresh paint and maybe citrus.
  • Include real plants and real fruit, like citrus.

I like to keep most lights on all the time, with window coverings wide open.  I think the right lighting – especially enough daylight – can make or break the first impression.

I loved staging this house. It may go down as my favorite one.  There are differing opinions on just how effective staging is at increasing the offer price and decreasing days on market. But in my case, this house sold for full price in one day – outperforming its comparables, as my staged houses always have.

Thanks to Kelly Payne for this post and her insight on staging your flip for a faster sale.

*Photo credit -Lauren Pope.


About Kelly

Kelly Payne - Staging Your Home for a Faster Sale

Kelly flips houses with her husband Aaron in Tulsa, OK. She is also an agent and a busy mom with 3 small children.  You may remember that Kelly was featured in my series “Successful Women In Real Estate Investing”.   If you missed that series be sure to check it out.

You can reach out to Kelly through her blog Flipping Oklahoma.   


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