As a member of RESA – the Real Estate Staging Association – and a person who spends a lot of time with Realtors, I try to stay as current on my reading up on trends and stats as possible. Recently, the 2019 Profile of Home Staging report conducted by the National Association of REALTORS was released, and as expected, made for some fascinating reading.
This infographic is particularly interesting. It details the things that Realtors most often suggest their clients address about their home before putting it on the market. It’s great to see that decluttering is right at the top (especially great if you are also a certified Houston home organizer as I am) and that depersonalizing the home – one of the primary goals of Houston home staging – is still very important in the minds of Realtors (and therefore buyers) too.
Then I noticed an item right there at the bottom, one that was still important enough to 36% of Realtors for them to bring up. Yet I know it’s a home staging mistake that homeowners, and even some home stagers can sometimes very easily overlook; grouting.
The Problem with Grimy Grout From a Home Buyer’s Perspective
Every home has at least some grout. A tiled floor is held together by it, as are tiled walls. There is usually some around bathtubs and showers too. Most of us don’t give the stuff too much thought on a daily basis, but as at least 36% of these polled Realtors know, home buyers tend to develop near superhero level vision when touring a home for sale, so if grouting is dirty, broken or missing they will notice.
When they do notice the grimy grout they won’t think it’s a home staging mistake, most will assume it is because the home is not quite as well cared for as its owner is claiming, something that is off putting at best and for some buyers an almost immediate deal breaker. Grout that is improperly cared for can cause all kinds of problems including all the following:
- Moisture works into the grout, loosening its seal on the tile, leading to loose tiles.
- Moisture works into the grout and mold and mildew begin to grow within it.
- The mold and mildew spreads into the floor/wall beneath the tile and begins to compromise the structure of the home itself.
- Missing grout leads to bathtub and shower leaks, often ‘slow’ leaks that are hard to detect until some serious damage is done.
Most of the grout used in the average home is what is usually referred to as sanded grout. That is a slightly grammatically incorrect way to indicate that it is a substance that contains a lot of sand. Sand is obviously very porous, which means that the grout holding your tiles together, or around your sinks, tubs other fixtures will absorb a lot of the moisture in the air around it, as well as dirt, dust and debris.
Sensible Home Staging Solutions for Bad Grout
The good news is that if problem grout is addressed at the start of the home staging process it is relatively easy to fix. Broken grout can be replaced, grimy grout can be cleaned and sealed. This will often be something best left to a professional, but another benefit of working with a Houston home stager instead of going it alone is that we always know great people who can come in to do these kinds of small but very important jobs quickly and at a great price.
That done, the grout will have to be kept looking clean and fresh for the duration of the time the home is on the market. The trick here is that if it looks like it needs a quick clean to do so but make sure you rinse away any traces of detergent solution you use and
more importantly blot the grout dry when you are done.