Staging: The Four-Year Plan (Part 1.)

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Because I work for Whit Harvey, I’ve been able to observe firsthand what goes into staging a house. Most of the time I see it when the homeowner is a month or two out from listing, occasionally a season or a year or two in advance. Since Whit is also my friend, I thought I would ask him to come and take a look at my Rodgers Forge home, and tell me what updates he would recommend if my husband and I have a four-year plan to sell.

My husband and I have lived here for 5 years, and our expectation is to reevaluate in another 4 or 5 years and decide if we want to stay here in Maryland, or move elsewhere depending upon where our grown children end up.

Rather than wait until our sale timeline is imminent, and do upgrades for potential buyers, we decided that we would begin now so that we could enjoy the fruits of our labors while living here.

But where to begin? What updates will he absolutely have to do when we sell, and what do we want to do now? Do we put in a new kitchen or install central air conditioning? Which should we do first? How do we figure out our best return on investment? And how do we make sure that we don’t over-improve for our market?

That is where Whit comes in. He spent over an hour with me at my four bedroom townhome, and I quickly came to realize that he was not spending that kind of time with me because we are friends and business associates, but because this is what he does for ALL of his clients.

The list that we made produced unexpected results. Starting at the front of the house, I thought I should strip and repaint my front door. Low priority. Simple touch up will do. BUT I will need to replace my front walk. What? That did not even occur to me, but as Whit says, first impressions start at the curb.

I am all about a new kitchen, maybe taking down a wall. Whit agrees, but suggests that I start with the lower level. Partially finished now, he suggested that we expand the finished area and create a laundry room and smaller storage area. Making it an inviting space is very appealing to a potential buyer, and since we already have a full bath down there, the expense would be minimal and return on investment great.

When our son was home, he lived in the finished part of the basement and enjoyed having his own private full bath. Now we just mostly use it for storage. It would be great to make it more livable now.

Okay, what then – kitchen or air conditioning? “Both,” said Whit. Ugh…can we afford that? But then again, this is a four-year plan, so he suggested that I do whichever one will bring me the most satisfaction and do that first – after the lower level of course. Okay – kitchen.

Things that I deemed important are apparently not, such as replacing my deck. Repair and restoration of that is fine since it is structurally sound. Replacing that front sidewalk was unexpected, but apparently my front porch looks great.

What would be my next steps? Whit outlined a plan for us:

 

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