‘Staging’ is a term used by real estate agents that means to make your home appealing, therefore making it more marketable to potential buyers. Through this process, you increase your home value and become more emotionally detached from the house as it becomes less of your home. The ultimate goal of staging is to make your house feel like home to potential buyers, so they can easily envision themselves living there. Here are some tips if you are thinking about staging your home for sale.
De-clutter and De-personalize
The first step of staging is to de-clutter and de-personalize your home. Renting a storage space is a great idea. Take out any extraneous furniture so that you can maximize the space your home has to offer. Put away all personal photos and personal items, replacing a few with attractive professional photographs or prints. Furniture should be placed in groupings away from the wall. Not only will this visually create more space, but will also allow for buyers to easily move throughout the room. It is important to make sure every room is being used as it is intended to be. For example, don’t have your dining room set up as an office. Potential buyers often have a difficult time envisioning rooms differently than they appear and will want to see the room staged to meet their expectations.
It is important to have a good flow in the house. All hallways and entrances should be clear and traffic flow in rooms should be obvious. Consider putting away area rugs—showing exposed floors sometimes makes rooms appear to be bigger. If there are any built-in appliances, fixtures, or drapery that you would like to keep, remove them now. Buyers can get attached to objects they assume will come with the house and might be turned off from making an offer if they are not.
Before you show your house to potential buyers, it is a good idea to get a home inspection. In most cases, an inspection is going to be done regardless, so having it done before buyers walk through will let them see your home in its best condition. Make any minor repairs needed, such as replacing cracked or missing floorboards, updating some windows, etc. Any repairs you make will be easily paid off once you sell your home.
Paint color is very important when staging a house. White or off-white walls are the general rule of thumb as they create an illusion of open space and make the rooms appear as a blank canvas. Neutral colors are also great choices. Neutral include colors from nature, so think of a muted green or blue. If you want to make your home look even more spacious, paint adjacent rooms the same color. Having the color of the walls match the color of the drapes is also a great technique and makes for a seamless interior look. Darker colors can often make rooms look especially cozy, so don’t shy away from these in your bedrooms and powder rooms. If sticking with an all-white or neutral palette, considering using an accent color to give a room little bit of personality. Small pops of color will keep the room from feeling boring.
Lighting is of upmost importance during a house showing. Make sure all lights are on when showing your house and open blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. Pay attention to the lighting of each room individually. There should be three types of light in each—ambient lighting (overhead or general lighting), task lighting (under the cabinet, closet, or reading lights), and accent lighting (table or wall lamps). If the room is dark, mirrors are your best friend. Adding a large mirror or two will increase the amount of light and will even add depth to make the room feel bigger.
When staging your home, pay close attention to odors you may be releasing into the house. It is hard for people who live in a house to smell pet or smoke odors since they have become desensitized to them. Have your pets stay at a friend or family member’s house during this time, if possible. If there is a smoker who lives in the house, have them smoke outside. Don’t try to mask odors by burning scented candles or spraying air freshener—these smells can be equally as offensive as the odors can combine rather than be replaced. Get rid of odors at the source—scrub down the house, take out trash regularly, and don’t cook foods with strong odors.
As a finishing touch to your home’s ambiance, place freshly cut flowers or trimmings around the house. Not only are flowers visually appeasing, they will add a nice aroma to the air. If flowers aren’t in season, you can always create bouquets of holly, berries, and pine in the winter and branches with fall foliage in autumn.
Kitchens are perhaps the most important room that buyers look at when purchasing a house. Before you sell your house, update any outdated appliances. Even though appliances are a large expense, it is likely you will recoup every penny spent after selling. If you can’t afford to replace outdated cabinetry, invest in new doors, drawer faces, and knobs. Store away counter appliances like toasters and coffee makers and make sure your refrigerator is free of magnets and personal reminders. Remember, you want to make your home look as if it brand new and uninhabited.
When staging a bathroom, your goal is to make it look and feel spa-like. Remove your personal items, such used bars of soap, razors, and toothbrushes. Make sure your cabinets are clean, uncluttered, and presentable as buyers like to check out the available storage space. Use white linens to add a sense of elegance. Put out accessories like fresh rolled-up towels, baskets, and candles to complete the spa-like atmosphere. The goal is to create an oasis the buyer doesn’t want to leave.
Make sure the room is free of clutter and clothes. You want the bedroom to come across as a room that is only used for rest and relaxation and has an inviting atmosphere. Again, use fresh white linens and puffy pillows to give an air of luxury. Pay close attention to your closets as buyers will be sure to look. To make them look the most spacious, remove your belongings. If you can’t, keep everything clean and organized.
The exterior of a home is often the most important visual element of selling a house. This is where the buyer gets their first (and often lasting) impression of a house. Check that the house numbers are clearly visible from the street. Clear all sidewalks and driveways around the house. Make sure any cracks in the pavement are repaired. Your lawn should be well-kept and mowed and all leaves should be raked away. Trim shrubs and see that the gardens are properly weeded. When choosing a color for the front door pretty much anything goes, but try to aim for contrast. Pick a nice, bold color that will stand out from the rest of the house.
The day of showing, make sure you stash away all personal items and empty wastebaskets and trash. It is also a great idea to leave the house before the buyers arrive. Following these steps should ensure that your house sells quickly and with great value. Once your house is sold, be sure to use our moving tips to help for a smooth transition to your new home. Good luck!
This blog was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated to reflect current trends.