A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Extreme Home Staging

I noticed that many people come to this blog for the posts on home staging, so I thought that I should oblige with at least one post a week on that topic. Most of what it takes to prepare your home for sale does not involve major projects, but at times it can. I usually do my best to avoid writing about specific clients, but in this case, they are my parents. They are planning on moving to their lake house next year, so they have been getting ready for the transition and the sale of their current home. Their example is a perfect case of having to take on something major to sell the house.

The house was built in the early sixties, and they bought it in the seventies, and the building has undergone changes, but like all homes, the seller has to think of the current market. I have been working on the home for the past year, to ensure that it is ready for it moment to shine. However, I came to a point where I informed my parents that we had to take this preparation a step further. There were two major issues which needed to be addressed: the kitchen and the den floor. From an inspection point of view, everything was fine. The counter was the original from the sixties, as was the floor, and both have seen some use. The kitchen counters were in good condition; they just were not what is popular in today’s market. The floors needed much more help.

Many people are buying existing homes, instead of going to a builder for a new home. This does not mean that they are not thinking of all of those nice new amenities which a new home can offer. Solid surface or stone countertops are in vogue. Laminate is fine for most, but stepping up to these new solid surface tops is what perspective buyers want. In this home, there is beautiful wood paneling and a cathedral ceiling in the den, which does make the room dark. The kitchen has a heavy use of stained wood too. I pointed out the fact that a solid surface countertop would be something which will stay in a perspective buyers mind, but I mentioned that we could use the countertop in another way to assist us. By using a light tan colored solid surface like Corian, we can not only make the kitchen feel more expansive, but the den as well, since it looks onto the kitchen. Basically, we change some of the dark colors for a complimentary light color. Light colors make the room feel larger. My parents liked the idea. Laminate is fine as a material, but when you have concerns of how to make your house stand out, and you have the problem of not being in the latest trend, with the consideration of how the house feels, you have to look at your options. In this case, three issues were taken care of with one fix. The countertop is around 25 square feet, which gives it a price in Houston of around $2300 to $3400 installed (depending on your options. The cabinets are in good shape, so this one project creates the feeling of a new kitchen, which will help the house sell towards the higher end of the market value.

Wood floors sell houses. People love the look and the feel, so repairing a wood floor is a good bet for homeowner when preparing to sell. Unfortunately, repairing does not always work. The original parquet floor from the sixties has dealt with a custom built 550 gallon fish tank, a film crew, dogs, and the worst of all, my brother and me. Needless to say, several pieces of parquet were missing or damaged. The good thing about the floor is that it was solid wood. The new wood composite floors can only be redone once or twice. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished up to ten times in some cases. The missing pieces posed the problem. New parquet floors in this style are not exactly the same size as the old pieces, so the noticeably stand out. We could have bought our own stock and custom made the pieces, but none of us had the time for that, so we considered a new floor. The den’s walls are dark, and the parquet is dark, so we though of how to make the room feel like its size. My parents had already used a Mexican tile in the kitchen, and we could let this tile be the flooring in the den. The color went with the area, and it would make the room feel larger. Tile floors in main living areas are becoming popular in certain parts of the country, mainly where there is an increasing Latino population. Tile floors are easy to clean and maintain, which has made them popular with many homeowners. Tile does not have the durability of wood, but it is becoming a choice of families for their main living area. Vinyl floors are also making a comeback for this reason. The room can be softened with a rug in the center, if need be. This flooring is great for Texas, and it helps physically connect areas, which are already visually connected.

Sometimes home staging can evolve into projects around the home, but in both these cases, my parents should realize that money back in the sale. They may even obtain more for their home, because of these details. You may not need to go this far in your own efforts, but think of the trade offs. Will this repair be reimbursed to me in the sale? Can this repair bring in a price closer to the higher market value? Kitchen and bathroom remodels will be reimbursed in the sale, but other remodels might not be. The floor in the den made sense, because a repair was needed, and there was the issue of how the den feels. Dark rooms do not go down well with home buyers.



  mrs b wrote @

Home staging can definitely add value to a home and ensure it sells quicker, and for a better price.

I wouldn’t recommend starting any large projects with home staging – firstly because they take time to complete – and secondly, you may not get the return on your investment.

I’d recommend simple cleaning, clearing and tidying as the first steps in home staging


  frankschulteladbeck wrote @

thank you for the comment. You are perfectly right, but in this instance, I suggested the project to my parents for two reasons: 1) they will not be selling the home until six months from now; and 2) the floor is badly damaged, and the house does need an updated feel, thus the counters.
I wanted people to realize that there are times when you need to go a step farther, and remodels of kitchens have been shown to be recouped in the sale price. Updating a floor does not have the same ability to recoup the money spent, but in this case, we wanted to not have the price lowered because of it.
Hope to hear from you again, and have a great day!

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