If the first three rules of real estate are – location, location, location — then the fourth rule has to do with the importance of proper home staging. Any seasoned real estate agent will happily tell you that a well presented home will not only effect how long it takes to sell but also the selling price. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you get started making your home sale-ready.
DO Declutter and Purge. Now’s the time to get rid of all that stuff you’ve been promising to sort through. Think of it this way; the more things you can donate, sell or toss, the less you’ll have to move to your new place. When a professional home stager descends upon a home they’re prepping for market, they often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings, belongings and knickknacks. Clearing things out makes the whole house look much bigger, more spacious and delightfully serene. When it comes to closets, remove up to 80 percent of the clothing from your closet, including your shoes. A sparse but organized closet seems larger and makes the area appear more elegant. Keep only what you really need or love. Period. Enough said.
DON’T Over Personalize. When a potential buyer steps through your front door, they are quietly hoping that they’re walking into their future dream home. Seeing tables filled with family photos and a refrigerator covered with your child’s artwork only reminds them that this is already somebody else’s house. It’s not that your vacation photos aren’t fascinating; it’s just that they distract the buyer and take their mind off your home’s best features. You want to create that luxury hotel feeling or an elegant model home look that appeals to nearly everyone.
DO Clean like a Crazy Person. This includes walls, ceiling, counter tops, furniture, tile, and light fixtures. You want shining floors, gleaming windows and scrubbed grout; every surface should sparkle. Cleaning is the easiest (well, maybe not easiest, but certainly the cheapest) way to help your home put its best foot forward. If your carpet is a bit gunky or your bathroom grout is moldy, you may want to spend a few bucks and call in the pros to tackle the really tough stuff. Don’t skimp! Put a little elbow grease into it.
DON’T Forget About Outdoor Spaces. Curb appeal is key. People’s first impression of your house is made as they’re walking up to it. Pots of blooming flowers and nicely trimmed shrubs go a long way towards making your home’s exterior appeal to buyers. Power wash siding and walkways. Hang easy-to-read house numbers. Mow the lawn or add fresh sod as needed. Wash exterior of the windows – even the ones way up high. Repaint or stain the porch floor. Arrange outdoor furniture in happy little conversation groups. You get the idea.
DO Add “Model Home” Touches and Qualities. Add new fluffy towels in the bathroom. Set the dining table with your best crystal and china. Soft music, lights on dimmers, candles flickering, and fresh floral are all great ideas for your open houses. You may need to invest in a few gallons of fresh paint if your wall color is outdated or painted in less popular colors. It’s okay if you love your dark purple living room and neon orange kitchen, but you’d probably be smart to cover them with something a little more neutral before you put the house on the market. Use earthy, calm tones for the bigger areas then add pops of saturated colors in the details; such as front doors or small nooks.
Don’t forget about the power of smell – keeping a tub of cookie dough in your fridge allows you to pop in a fresh batch of cookies pre-showing, and to many people, nothing says “home” quite like the smell of fresh-baked cookies.
Vases of fresh flowers also add cleanliness and beauty to a room and can make them more attractive to potential buyers. This is the perfect time to indulge in having fresh flowers around the house.
DON’T Block the Light or the Views. Natural light makes everything feel more warm and inviting, so don’t block it out with heavy curtains or bulky pieces of furniture, especially if you have attractive views or a pretty yard. Instead of hiding them, turn them into focal points. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a killer view or tons of natural light, then a mirror is one of your best staging props. One mirror can sell a room because it will fill an empty space, brighten a drab corner, or increase the apparent size of a room.
DO Make Sure the House Appeals to Both Sexes. My very proper grandmother used to say that a flowered bed cover does not belong in a room where a man sleeps. Whether or not you agree with her opinion on bed linens, when it comes time to sell, your whole home needs to appeal to buyers of both sexes– not just your master bedroom. Get rid of features that seem too gender-specific.
DON’T get carried away. Yes, you want to clear out, clean up and add a few great touches. But this isn’t the time to tackle expensive remodeling projects or to be buying a bunch of new pricey furniture that may or may not work in your new home. We’re confident that with just sticking to these few tips and a little creativity, you might find that getting an offer on your home is easier than you thought.