Home buyers love to get the most space for their money. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 66% of millennials cite more living space as the No. 1 reason for buying a house. So if you’re selling a home with a bonus bedroom, a finished basement, or an extra-large landing on the second floor that could be used for something, you’re adding a lot of extra value.
But are you really highlighting the glorious potential of that space to buyers?
Remember, you’re not just selling a house; you’re selling an aspirational lifestyle! So whether you’re showcasing an attic hobby room, a gamer’s paradise in the basement, or a wellness retreat on the second floor, consider these strategic staging tips to make that flex space shine.
1. Avoid giving rooms a split personality
For optimal results when selling, execute a single theme in your bonus room, says Howard Andrews, a licensed broker with Knipe Realty in Portland, OR.
Someone who craves a spot to paint landscapes probably doesn’t want one that also crams in an elliptical trainer and a double bed. And a young couple imagining a sweet nursery won’t be impressed if their future baby’s room is also a makeshift potting shed with hydroponic herbs sprouting below bright lights.
“You really want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your house,” Andrews says.
2. Get physical with a yoga studio or gym
The number of Americans practicing yoga and meditation has surged in the past couple of years, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health. So staging your bonus space as the perfect spot to get healthy makes it an attractive alternative to the gym (and a budget-savvy one, too), says Michael Sinatro, broker-owner of the Sinatro Co. and an accredited home stager in West Hartford, CT.
“When buyers come across a home that has a meditation or yoga room—a calming, Zen kind of place—people’s gut reaction is how they wish they had one,” he says. “In our overscheduled digital world, people are yearning for peace, mindfulness, and a moment of quiet.”
Sinatro suggests keeping the decor simple: a yoga mat or two, some plants, and a nook in the corner piled with comfy pillows.
“A home gym is also appealing, especially when you have things like rubber mats, a water cooler, and mirrors on the wall,” he adds. But skip the giant stair-climbing machine if the room has low ceilings—it will only draw attention to that feature.
3. Consider getting crafty
There’s no reason to spend piles of cash to stage an extra room for a nonexistent purpose, but if you’re passionate about a hobby and can showcase the space attractively, do so. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 1 in 5 Americans finds hobbies make their lives more meaningful.
“My wife would probably fall in love with a house that has an organized sewing and crafting space, and I think that’s true for a lot of couples, because we’re seeing a lot more of the do-it-yourself crowd becoming more mainstream,” says Andrews.
“Buyers also value extra storage everywhere, so built-in storage is a great asset for a hobby space. Good lighting is also a must.”
An industrial-style long table and freestanding bookshelves also help define a hobby room.
4. Gear up for a gaming room
One recent survey reported that 65% of U.S. households regularly play video games. Buyers who love gaming will appreciate a space with plenty of electrical outlets that can accommodate consoles or charge wireless joysticks, gaming computers, and even vintage arcade machines.
“A gaming space has to be a large enough to accommodate a table with about 3 feet around every side of the table—it gives people enough room to get around each other,” says Andrews.
5. Trick out an office with awesome storage
With nearly 4 million U.S. employees telecommuting at least half the time, home offices are hugely desirable. But don’t just stick a cheap desk in a room, slap a lamp on it, and call it an office. Create the kind of office where people can picture themselves producing their best work.
“You’re selling what buyers picture themselves to be,” Sinatro explains.
Add some tall storage with lots of shelving that’s well-designed, plus a small seating area, and you’ll show all the options in a nice space, he says.
6. Create a dream closet and dressing room
According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than 40% of first-time home buyers consider a walk-in closet essential. So if your home’s master bedroom is short on storage, consider spending about $1,500 to transform an adjacent bedroom into an Instagram-worthy walk-in closet, with tons of hanging space and shoe cubbies—and maybe even a storage island in the center of the room.
7. Don’t forget the Big Ds: Declutter and depersonalize
Spare rooms that just showcase piles of things you can’t find space for is a surefire way to tank a sale, no matter how great your home is.
“People might be very forgiving when they see a cluttered garage, but if your third bedroom is full of boxes, it’s really hard to get past that cluttered impression,” Andrews says.
8. Downsizing? Stage your space authentically
If you’re new empty nesters planning on moving to a condo, you might be tempted to stage your home so a young family sees themselves there. But resist the temptation to revamp the entire house.
“While you want to appeal to as many buyers as possible, you don’t want to fake a playroom if you don’t have children,” Sinatro says.
Similarly, if you’re not an artist, staging a bedroom as a bright art studio just won’t work.
“If something is genuinely your passion, that will come across to buyers, as long as it’s clean and simple,” he adds.
By: Wendy Helfenbaum
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