If you were going to sell your car and you wanted to get top dollar for it, you would probably try to make the car as appealing as possible to a new buyer. The first step would be to clean out all your stuff: take out old water bottles, get rid of the Mardi Gras beads hanging from your rearview mirror, and remove the change and pocket lint from the cup holder. Next, you’d maybe vacuum the interior and take the car for a quick spin through the local car wash to make it look as shiny and new as possible. Finally, as a finishing touch, you’d probably spray a little air freshener on the upholstery to give it that "new car smell." The goal is that, through your efforts, you’ll be able to convince potential buyers that there’s still a lot of life left in your vehicle and it’s worth your asking price.
Selling your home works much in the same way- just on a bigger scale. When your home goes on the market, your goal should obviously be to get as much money for it as possible. But, to do that, you’re going to have to appeal to potential buyers. And that, sometimes, is a little difficult for home sellers to grasp.
The reason is usually an emotional one: this house was your "home." You probably have a lot of memories associated with that house, and it can be difficult to let go.
No offense, but, potential buyers don’t want your memories. All they are thinking about are their own experiences that they hope to enjoy in their new home- and it’s very hard for them to imagine such things if the house still feels like it’s yours. That’s why home staging is so important.
Staging is all about making your home appeal to buyers. The amount of work involved will vary greatly, depending on the state of each house. It may be as little as rearranging a piece of furniture, or as involved as repainting every room or changing kitchen countertops. However, properly preparing your house for sale through the use of home staging is an important part of a successful sale.
Below are some suggestions for how to stage your home for a successful sale:
- Clean, clean, clean: No one wants to buy a dirty home. Giving each room a top-to-bottom scrub is a must before putting the house up for sale. Remove cobwebs, wash down walls, mop the floors, and if necessary, steam clean the carpets. When you are finished, you should have a home that looks and smells fresh. However, try to avoid using too many scented products in your cleaning efforts, as some people are very sensitive to perfumes.
- De-personalize: Pack away your family photos, knick-knacks, books, and personal memorabilia. Store collections and valuables safely out of sight. Clear fridges of magnets and paperwork. If you are still living in the home while showings are taking place- try to hide your every day necessities as much as possible. Yes, you still have to live your life… but no one wants to see your toothbrush or dirty dishes in the sink. If you have kids, keep toys tucked away. If you have pets, try to conceal crates, leashes and litter boxes. Remember, we’re trying to help potential buyers see your house as their home.
- De-clutter: When it comes to home staging, less is definitely more. Potential buyers are trying to assess how much space there is in each room. The best way to show off a space: make sure there is plenty of floor and wall area exposed. You won’t want to rid the rooms of furniture and accessories completely because you want to show buyers that the space is functional. However, getting rid of unnecessary furniture and accessories can make a huge difference in the perceived size of each room. For example, a couch, a small coffee table, some floor lamps and a neutral painting on the wall are usually enough to successfully stage a living room.
- Neutralize the space: Maybe you love pumpkin orange in your bathroom, or bright pink in your kitchen... but what if potential buyers don’t share your tastes? They may have a hard time picturing themselves in the house if the style of décor is drastically different from their own. If you have striking colors on the walls or in your furniture, you’ll need to neutralize. Paint over bold wall colors with a neutral shade (think beiges, warm grays and light creams). That family sofa with the red polka dot upholstery… consider buying a white slip cover to give it a crisp new feel. And, if you’re not planning to take it with you, consider giving it away now!
- Organize your closets: Remove half of your clothing, if possible, and put it in storage. Take the other half and organize it neatly in your closets. People are curious and they will open doors to check things out. An over-stuffed, messy closet sends the message that there isn’t enough storage space.
- Let the light in: Natural light tends to make a space feel cleaner and more spacious. Try to let in as much natural light as possible. Remove heavy or bulky window treatments. Open the shades. Sheer curtains can be used to still offer some privacy, while allowing the sun to filter through. However, please make sure your windows are clean! No matter how clean your house is, dirty windows can make any space feel dingy.
- Maximize Your Curb Appeal: It will be hard to entice buyers to make an offer... if you can’t even get them through the front door. When potential buyers pull up to your house, they will immediately form an opinion, without even stepping inside. Make sure the first impression is a good one.
- Rake leaves, mow the lawn and keep bushes/hedges neatly trimmed
- Fix any glaring eyesores- peeling paint, torn siding or screens, rusted outdoor light fixtures, etc.
- Neutralize- just like on the inside, if you have obtrusive colors or décor that does not keep with other houses in the neighborhood, swap it out for something more neutral
- Get a functional analysis: Sometimes, getting an educated, outside opinion can make a world of difference. Well educated real estate professionals can perform a functional analysis of your home, to assess any repairs or improvements that should be made before putting your home on the market. They can also offer home staging advice, and explain what may be needed in order to showcase each room’s full potential.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in educating you in the art of home staging. If you choose to list with us, we will be happy to offer personalized advice on how to stage your home for a successful sale.