If the word “staging” conjures up the idea that you’re putting on a show for prospective buyers, you’re on the right track. In a well-staged home, you’re putting the home in the spotlight and inviting buyers to imagine themselves taking a starring role. To do that, you need to step into the shadows behind the scenes and give buyers room to imagine themselves taking the lead as homeowner. Here are some tips to set a scene that will leave the critics, or at least the homebuyers, raving.
OK, not completely. But you’re moving anyway so if getting a head start will help your home sell faster and for more money, why wouldn’t you start packing things away? A storage unit is almost always a smart investment when selling a home. Personal photos, excessive knick-knacks and general clutter make it hard for most buyers to see your home as anything but someone else’s home.
Don’t empty your bookshelves completely, but do remove enough books to give the shelves some breathing room. Stack some books vertically, some horizontally and put an interesting vase or sculpture up. While you don’t want clutter, you also don’t want it to look so sterile no one could imagine calling it home. And it should go without saying that if you have books or memorabilia relating to any, ahem, colorful hobbies or interests, best pack them away.
All those pictures of your kids and pets? Pack them away. A family photo or two is probably fine if it’s a home likely to be marketed to a family. But you want buyers to envision their kids in the home, not yours. You want art on the walls, but nothing too edgy or overly personal. You don’t want prospective buyers getting curious about you and your family and your interests. You want them to be focused on the home and how they would live in it.
Clean like company’s coming
The de-cluttering you’ve done should make this a whole lot easier. Strange as it seems, you don’t want buyers to see any signs that people actually live in the home. That means no smudges on the windows, no dust bunnies on the floor, no handprints on the walls and no water marks on the counters. If you have rugs that are worn or stained, replace them. Even a cheap new rug will show better than an expensive one with a wine stain. Just make sure it’s sized properly for the space.
Hide away things like toilet bowl brushes, even if they’re decorative and tasteful. Not only does a clean home make a good impression, but it sends the message that you take care of things. Buyers will be put at ease about your home maintenance if you have a spotless home to show them. If cleaning just isn’t your thing, consider hiring a weekly cleaning service or a one-time deep cleaning service. You’ll still have to maintain the clean, but that’s easier to do when you start fresh.
Never work with kids or pets
It’s an old show-business adage that works for home staging as well. Kids and pets can both upstage your best efforts to present a lovely home. Neither of them is particularly interested in maintaining the kind of white-glove environment you need so you’re going to have to do the work for them. With kids, it’s a little easier because you don’t need to hide their very existence. You just have to clean up after them.
With pets, well, that’s a different story. You want potential buyers to see no clue that a dog or cat or hamster or pot-bellied pig lives in the home. That means you must find a place to take your pets and all of their accoutrements during showings. If you can’t board your pets, have a “go-bag” ready to load up the animals and their stuff on short notice. Don’t leave behind a dog bowl, nose marks on the glass or paw marks on the door. (And don’t even think about leaving a litter box in the home, no matter how recently you cleaned it.) Once a buyer knows an animal lives in the home, they will literally turn up their noses, looking for any sign of a pet smell and they may imagine one even if it doesn’t exist.
And, of course, there shouldn’t be any odor. You’ll likely be nose-blind to the smells in your home that you’re used to. But buyers won’t be and an unfamiliar smell is a huge turnoff. Ask your agent and friends to be brutally honest with you so you can eliminate any scents you don’t even notice.
Let there be light
Staging a home is no time for mood lighting. One of the first things potential buyers usually comment on is the amount of light in a home. You want your home to be light and bright. That means putting higher wattage bulbs in fixtures if possible, making sure all the lights work, cleaning the fixtures and opening all the shades and window coverings before each showing. If possible, it’s best to have three types of lighting in every single room—overhead, task and accent lighting. And despite the nagging voice in your head of your father complaining about the electricity bill, leave them all blazing when you have a showing scheduled. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.
Once you’ve got the interior well-lit, think about lighting outside as well with solar-powered pathway lights and string lights for the back patio. As with the indoor fixtures, made sure that your porch light works and isn’t dated or dirty.
Rearranging the furniture
Take a look at each room and play around with the arrangement of your furniture to create more conversational spaces. Point love seats and couches toward each other, which will actually increase the amount of space in rooms. Don’t be afraid to mix things completely up. Yes, in real life, you’d probably point the couch toward the television.
But staging your home for sale isn’t about living in it. It’s about selling it.
If you have a large bedroom, think about putting an armchair in a corner to make a little reading nook or prominently display an otherwise overlooked desk and make an inviting little space. Look to magazines and even Pinterest as inspirations for your staging.
Don’t forget the window treatments. Ditch the heavy drapery or the mini-blinds with broken slats. Invest in some simple, inexpensive shades or blinds. You’re going to leave them up during showings anyway.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
If you’re looking for something to replace the gallery of family photos you took down, consider a nice mirror. It will make the room brighter and bigger and has the bonus of letting prospective buyers literally see themselves in the home.
Don’t be too colorful
Yes, that bright red accent wall really shows off your personality. But there’s only one you and you’ve already bought this home once. You need to tone down the colors. Neutrals are your friends. In the bathroom, invest in some new white towels to hang to give the look of a spa. Again, you don’t want it to look cold and sterile but do want it to look appealing to the widest group of people possible.
Curb appeal is real. Make sure your lawn is mowed and neatly edged. Pressure wash the siding and spruce up any peeling paint. Oil stains in the driveway? Now’s the time to get after them. First impressions are lasting impressions.
Hire a pro
Hiring a stager isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. You can hire someone to do anything from “fluffing” your home by using your existing furniture and décor to bringing in their own furniture to do a complete stage. It probably makes more sense to invest in a complete staging if your home is more high-end than if you’re selling your starter home.
But if you’re completely overwhelmed by the whole idea of staging, your agent probably has some good advice and good references if you want to turn it over to a pro.
If you can’t do it all, do what you can
Keeping your home show-ready can be overwhelming. If you can’t do everything, don’t give up. Do as much as you can and know that for everything you do, you’ll likely reap the benefits in a quicker sale for a higher price.
Article originally published on: zillow.com