we have homes in LA and SF since the 70's .When it comes time to sell - I ALWAYS do a refurb on kitchen and baths. If the house is sufficiently costly, then spend the money for Wolf Stoves and ovens, Sub Zero or Liebherr refrigeration, and Miele Dishwashers and washer/dryer. A whole kitchen full of the very best appliances money can buy will cost you $15k if you shop well. Discerning buyer will immediately perceive the quality of the appliances. Most home owners know a sub zero fridge starts at $5k and goes up to $12k. A Wolf Stove starts at $4k and can go up to $14k, the Miele Laundry pair - about $4k, and the sinks, faucets can add another $5k. Granite or Corian counters too @ $5k. And if the asking prices is at or over $1.2 million, then staging sells faster than anything else. The cost of staging a large home can range from a low of $4400 to a high of $25k or more, depending on how much furniture and how long it's kept. It's very easy to let a designer furnish rooms down to the ornaments on tables. That is the most costly option, however, and it also locks in a particular look or style. Great if the buyers happen ot like that style, And the kiss of death if they don't. REMEMBER, LESS IS MORE! Subtle creation of a scenario is what you're after. Not fully furnished move in ready bring your toothbrush! With this slow market count on having the furniture six months and budget for it in your sales/asking price. I seem to get about 20% more in sales price from the staged home than from those which are not. Also, a good staging company can take a dark dreary room and make it cozy and inviting. A sun drenched deck can become an outdoor living space with VERY little effort. Don't forget landscape. A couple grand spent in plants and sprinkler systems to keep them alive can fetch a 40 fold return on that investment. The bigger and pricer the house, the more you should be willing to spend. However, remember that 'less is more' and you want the suggestion of a room - not a furnished model. The most successful 'staging' I ever did was in a grand old mansion on Pacific Ave in SF. The house had 20k sq feet and to have staged the entire thing would have bankrupted me. So we put a grand piano with digital player unit installed in the main living room, a couple of columns holding very elegant plants, some uplit trees, and two gorgeous overstuffed sik upholstered chairs facing the window that viewed the bay. The piano had a huge silk scarf with 2' fringes draped over the back of it and an IMMENSE candelabra on the front of it, complete with 18" yellow candles in it. A bowel of flowers completed the scene.
People never got beyond the living room and entry. The music playing, the chairs looking out at the bay, the fireplace lit, and the scene was set. The second or third couple that saw the house sat there in those very costly silk chairs and wrote out a full price offer, contingent on my including the existing piano, and furnishings in the living room (all plants, columns, lighting, etc.). The sale price was over three million and frankly it needed another three million in work. But the magic, the scene, the sizzle in lieu of the steak was what sold the property. I visited the buyer 18 months later after the major rehab was complete and they had the living room furnished exactly the same way with the addition of a good rug or two and a couple of sofa' s and a desk or book case. Even the same Cole Porter wafting through the house from the digital piano player unit! It cost me $40k to buy the piano and accoutremounts and was worth EVERY penny. I had hoped I could get 2m for the house in its present condition. I got just a shade over 3 million. Today, rehabbed and rebuilt to an excellent standard - it's probably worth well over six million. Pac Heights has that cachet - especially since the house had a six car garage underneath it! (grin)
The other detail is to have the house professionally cleaned top to bottom. No odors from pets, no dirty toilets or sinks. A pro cleaning service to do the windows, walls, floors, bathrooms, etc., the first time and then a maid service to maintain it while it's being viewed. I put a self-serve automatic coffee machine in, along with stocking the fridge with bottles of Evian and juices. Leave a note for realtors to help themselves and serve their clients.
The trick is create an oasis and allow potential buyers to envision a scene wherein they and their family are mentally part of the scene. Once you hit that, (and it can be done with surprisingly few piece of furniture and/or art) you're home free. Like I said - it netted me a million more than I thought I would get without a major overhaul performed BEFORE I sold it and paid for out of my own money. (Scary thought for most property owners - because your idea of "gorgeous" or "great" may be someone else's idea of a disaster.