Real estate is still changing hands rather briskly, but to say that the housing market has been a bit wild over the last few years is a massive understatement. A year or so ago, sellers could barely get a property listed before bids started rolling in. Now, the market is behaving more normally, and sellers who want to get top dollar on their properties need to go the extra mile.
If you’re a seller, what can you do to give yourself that boost when it comes to enchanting buyers and accepting the offer of your dreams? “Staging” your house properly so that it’s more appealing to potential buyers is essential.
Staging your home isn’t making it out to be something it’s not. It’s all about making it possible for potential buyers to see themselves in what is currently your space — and that’s not always easy. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Clean and Declutter
The first step is cleaning and decluttering your home. This really cannot be overemphasized, as a clean and clutter-free house looks more spacious and attractive to potential buyers. It’s the best way to show off the “bones” of your house, which is what buyers want to see most.
Start by removing any unnecessary items from your home, like excess furniture, seasonal items and old clothes. Throw out, donate or give away anything that you don’t want to move with you. Be ruthless about eliminating knickknacks and other collections from sight, as they end up being visual distractions. You don’t want potential buyers to remember your stuff. You want them to remember your house.
Ensure that the clutter-free look is consistent in every room and corner – including closets and storage spaces. Since storage areas are always a big selling point, you want potential buyers to see exactly how much is available. It is not unreasonable (or even unusual) to rent a commercial storage unit to collect everything that you need to pack up since you don’t want prospective buyers walking around boxes.
Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to do a deep clean. Everything from the kitchen and the bathrooms to your bedrooms and your garage. Tools need to be clean, organized and tidy. Wash the walls, mop the floors, wipe down the baseboards and make sure that the windows sparkle.
2. Depersonalize Your Space
Once again, you want to create a “neutral canvas” in which buyers can place themselves. Once you have decluttered and cleaned, it’s time to depersonalize your home.
This part can be very difficult for homeowners who have spent years putting their personal stamp on their homes, but it’s essential. Remove family photos, all but the most neutral artwork and any other items that could be considered distracting or unusual. If you went with a bold color choice or wild wallpaper patterns in one room, this is a good time to switch the color scheme back to “relocation beige” or another neutral.
You may have a tough time depersonalizing some areas of your home, especially if you have children or pets. One trick is to pack away all but the most-favored items and use a decorative basket with a lid to hold the rest when prospective buyers are on the way.
When you’re done with this step, you ideally want your home to have a “charming bed & breakfast” vibe. It shouldn’t be entirely devoid of personality, but it should be just bland enough that anybody could feel reasonably comfortable living there.
3. Make Minor Repairs and Updates
Small repairs like fixing leaky faucets, replacing cracked tiles and painting chipped walls can make a big difference in the overall appearance of your home — especially because those things look more noticeable in a decluttered, depersonalized space. Minor repairs will help to make your home look well-maintained and move-in ready.
Another important aspect of staging your house for sale is updating your decor. Replacing any outdated light fixtures or window treatments and adding new hardware to the kitchen or bathroom cabinets can make your home appear visually modern and well-maintained.
4. Turn Each Room into a Showcase
The prime goal is to make each room in the home as picture-perfect as possible. Make sure your furniture is arranged in a way that maximizes the space. Then, add a few decorative touches to make the space feel welcoming.
With that in mind:
- In the living room, create conversational areas by arranging group seating.
- In the kitchen, remove any small appliances that aren’t absolutely necessary, and make sure all the appliances that remain are clean.
- In all rooms, clear off every flat surface of any excess decorative items that haven’t already been boxed away. Stick with neutral decor items, like throw pillows, pillar candles, flowers in vases and similar items.
- The bedrooms should all be staged to highlight their purpose as a place for rest and relaxation. Make sure beds are made, personal items are tucked away and nightstands are mostly clear. A small stack of books or a journal can serve as decor.
- Stage the bathroom to highlight its cleanliness and functionality. Tuck shampoo bottles, make-up and other bathroom items into baskets that can be closed or tucked under the sink and make sure the towels you hang are new and clean.
Remember, the key to successful staging is to create an atmosphere that allows the broadest variety of potential buyers to see themselves living there. Staging your home can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but the payoff can be significant. A well-staged home can sell faster and for a higher price than a home that is not staged – and help is available for those who don’t feel able to do it all on your own.