Most people think that selling their home is as easy as tidying up a bit, taking a few pictures and putting a “For Sale” sign in the front lawn. And for some people, it is that easy…but, those people probably won’t be selling their homes very quickly. Turns out that if you want to sell your home as quickly as possible, and for as much money as possible, you’re going to need to do a little bit of home staging before that sign goes up.
What is home staging?
Home staging is the act of preparing a home for sale by decorating it in order to appeal to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling the property more quickly and for more money. Home staging is essentially a way to highlight your home’s strengths and downplay it’s weaknesses in hopes of appealing to the greatest number of buyers possible. A recent National Association of Realtors study revealed that most buyers are affected by home staging. Buyers report that a staged home that they viewed online is more likely to draw them into viewing a home in person. They also reported that a staged home better allows them to visualize the property as a future home. Moreover, most agents reported that a staged home increased the dollar value buyers are willing to pay by 1-5%.
According to the report, the top three most important rooms to be staged when selling your home is, first, the living room, followed by the kitchen and then the master bedroom. You can hire professional stagers to come and give you a plan for staging your home (in fact, many real estate companies offer this as a service these days). Or you can cut out the middle man and do some staging on your own by following these 6 easy tips.
Less is more when it comes to staging your home for sale. Clear off all the countertops in your kitchen and bathrooms. Remove all but essential decor. Leave only a select few books on each shelf of your built-ins. Get rid of any clothes you no longer wear and store all clothes and shoes that are out of season. You want your potential buyers to walk into your house and see how much space it offers. If your counters and closets and rooms are filled to the brim with stuff, the space will feel small and crowded, which is a huge turn off to buyers. You even need to go through all your cabinets and drawers, clear them out and organize them. You better believe buyers are going to be opening cabinet doors and peering into closets! This will probably be the most frustrating and time consuming part of preparing your home for sale, so get started on it as soon as you know you want to list and tackle it one room at a time.
Remove all personal knick-knacks, memorabilia, collectibles and sports team items. Remove any religious or political items. Remove personal toiletry items from the bathrooms. Pack away all the family photos. A lot of people have a problem with this one and I can see why. It seems unnatural to take down every family photo in the house, but it’s for a good reason. When a buyer walks into your house, you want them to picture themselves living there. It will be really hard for them to envision their family living in that space if they’re constantly bombarded by photos of you and your family all over the walls and shelves. Depersonalizing the space will ultimately help you sell your house because it makes it easier for the buyer to imagine living there.
3. Deep Clean
You want to clean your house like you’ve never cleaned it before! On the exterior of the house, power wash the brick, siding and sidewalks/driveway. Clean out the gutters, trim the bushes and rake the leaves. Clean windows and screens, clean outdoor furniture, pick up toys, remove weeds, pick up the dog poop. On the inside, wash all the windows, clean the floors with a steam mop, shampoo the carpets. Scrub the tubs and showers, scrub the toilets (inside and out), dust everything, including ceiling fans. Clean all the appliances (inside and out), scrub counters and sinks and clean the mirrors. Take a magic eraser sponge and wipe down all dirt and grime on the baseboards, trim, cabinets, and doors. You want your house to sparkle like the day it was built!
This is another hard one for people to get on board with. I know it seems like a lot of work to paint the house with neutral colors when it may not be your style, but believe me, it will help you sell your house much more quickly! I remember the first house my husband and I bought had sat on the market for many, many weeks simply because the paint colors the owners had chosen were hideous. I’m not even exaggerating; they painted the master bedroom neon orange and one of the guest rooms was day-glow green. It literally glowed into the hallway. Who does that? Anyway, people refused to buy the house because the colors were so bad, it just automatically turned people off. True, there are some buyers out there (like me) who can easily see past the paint, but most cannot. If you really want to fast track the sale of your home, pick a nice neutral color and get to painting.
5. Repair & Replace
This should go without saying, but if there is anything broken or that needs replacing in your house, just do it. It will save you a lot of back and forth negotiations with potential buyers if you repair and replace what needs fixing before you even list your house. Besides fixing what’s broken, try to update small things where you can. For instance, my husband and I replaced all the outdated brass doorknobs and almond-colored light fixtures in our house and, while it was a small expense and an easy update, it makes a huge impact in how the house looks. Do you have an old, leaky faucet? Replace it. Is the toilet gross and past it’s prime? Install a new one. You may have to sink a couple of hundred dollars into getting these small repairs done, but it will be well worth it in the end.
6. Curb Appeal
Let’s face it: people buying houses are always going to judge a book by it’s cover. I know that when I’m browsing online looking at properties, if the house looks like a hot mess on the outside, I rarely take the time to look at what the inside looks like. Take a weekend and get to work on your curb appeal. Clear out the flower beds and put down fresh mulch. Do a little styling on your front porch: a couple of planters with pretty plants, a new welcome mat and a pretty wreath on the door should do nicely. If there are dead plants in the yard, remove them and plant new ones. Mow the lawn, touch up paint, fix the crooked gate on the fence. Take the time to make it look inviting and fresh on the outside so that people will want to take a closer look on the inside.
I know it seems like a lot of trouble to put into a house that will no longer be yours in (hopefully) a few short days or weeks. But making the effort will dramatically increase your potential for selling sooner rather than later, and for closer to your asking price. In the end, keep in mind that once you decide to sell your home, it is no longer truly yours. Removing as much of your personal attachment to it, emotionally as well as physically, will help you to let go and prepare yourself to re-invest in the next chapter of your home journey!
Do you have any great home staging tips? I’d love to hear them!