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Makeup-free selfies are all the rage, with celebrities and starlets snapping shots of their fresh, cosmetic-free faces.
It's a bold move for many whose fame (and bank accounts) depend on putting forth a perfect image, and it's a trend that has garnered a lot of attention in an age when extreme photoshopping is the norm and body images issues are affecting younger and younger kids.
Everyone from Cameron Diaz to Sharon Stone to Sofia Vergara to Beyonce, and, most recently, Gwen Stefani, have shown their stuff - their real stuff - without any help from concealer and contour, and have been embraced for their efforts.
So should home sellers be applying this trend to their homes? Not so fast.
An occupied home
A home without a little help is going to be blah, at best. And a blah home isn't going to excite buyers, which is why a little staging can make such a huge difference.
"Plastic surgery might improve one's looks. But so might a little makeup. When it comes to making your house more attractive to prospective buyers, home staging is definitely in the makeup category," said MarketWatch. "Just like makeup, it's an on-the-surface solution. Staging can help your place look its best during the sales period without the cost or expense of a renovation."
Preparing a home for sale is all about helping to accentuate certain features and de-emphasize others, just like makeup. Have an oddly shaped room? The right furniture placement can make all the difference. Not enough counter space in the kitchen? Clearing them off and removing all the clutter is the obvious first step. That includes small appliances, which can be taking up valuable real estate and which can easily be stored elsewhere while the home is listed.
A vacant home
If you translate the makeup-free selfie to a vacant house, it's obvious why it's not a great idea to go bare. Vacant homes have been proven to be harder to sell and take longer. Buyers may assume that there's no intense hurry to buy a home that has already been abandoned by the owner. But the larger issue may be that potential buyers can't picture themselves in the home.
"While home staging is in part about showing a property in its best possible light, it can also help potential buyers imagine themselves in the space. Particularly after a move-out, or before a property has ever been occupied, many buyers like to see what a room really looks like, how it lives, said MarketWatch. "Buyers have a hard time envisioning themselves if it's empty," Scott Leverette of McGuire Real Estate in Berkeley, Calif told them. "I think also a home looks smaller if it's empty."
The bottom line is vision. When it comes to a home, you simply can't expect the average person to have it. A buyer may not be able to picture where the seating area would go in a living room with no furniture to serve as an example. In the empty master bedroom, they might not realize that, yes, their king-size bed will fit.
This need for a little makeup help is not limited to older homes. Several years ago there was a new home builder in California that insisted on showcasing one of the model homes with "standard" items, in stark contrast to the other models, which were decked out with all the upgrades and options. The idea was to show one plan "as is" so buyers would understand what they were getting for the sales price. That meant basic flooring, white tile countertops and no window coverings.
Not surprisingly, buyers were not impressed. This particular model sat while the others sold, and, in the end, buyer incentives were needed to get it moving.
It just goes to show how important it is to set the scene for buyers, even when it means a higher focus on design - or some nicer stuff - than may be your norm.
"There is really no nice way to say it: We all have a few ugly bits in our homes, and it's best to face the facts early on. The good news: There are plenty of quick fixes for your home's trouble spots," said Houzz.
A few quick-fix ideas from New Jersey-based home stager Kelley Gardner on Houzz: "White towels and a white waffle-weave shower curtain can do wonders to a dated bath. If you have oak kitchen cabinets, paint them white and add quartz or stone counters to help update. Remove dated wallpaper and paint. Take down dusty, dated window treatments. Inexpensive updates can include changing out light fixtures, throw pillows and bed linens."
Call it the lipstick and mascara version of home staging. When it comes to fresh homes, every little bit helps.