Updated: Aug 22, 2020
Professional stagers can do some incredible work. They can turn unappealing spaces into assets and know exactly how to show off a space to make it look its best. So let's take a couple of strategies from their playbook to help you make your home look as appealing as possible to potential buyers. Good news...you can do all of these yourself or with the help of your Realtor®. Not totally sold on the power of home staging? Check out these incredible transformations!
Before we get started, it is important to be in the right frame of mind. One of the hardest things in the selling process is to detach yourself a bit from your home. Yes, it is a wonderful place where you likely created a lot of great memories. Maybe it was your first home or where you brought your children home from the hospital or the place where you watched your children grow up. Keep in mind that it is also the single largest investment 99% of people will make in their lifetime. So, when you put it up for sale, it is also important to treat it as an asset. You want to get the best price for your largest investment and sometimes that means the inconvenience of packing up some of your things, removing personal items, and making some changes to show your home in the best possible light. After all, the goal is to find someone who will fall in love with the home as much as you did. There are some really simple ways to help that process along, none of which will break the bank.
Paint the Walls - You automatically set yourself up for success if you're starting with a pretty neutral backdrop. If the paint colors in your home are relatively neutral, it will generally appeal to the most buyers. That doesn’t mean stripping it of all personality but it means considering any strong color or design choices that might be polarizing in your home. Painting over a loud accent wall or neutralizing a child’s neon pink room creates a simple pallet and gives the buyers less to overcome visually so that they can imagine themselves living in the space. Just remember, homes with neutral paint colors sell, on average for thousands more than those with loud or outdated colors so you are doing this to maximize your investment. P.S. Neutral doesn't have to mean white!
Remove Personal Items - You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your house. It significantly increases the likelihood that they will write an offer. Visualizing a home is yours is increasingly difficult if in every room there is a constant reminder of the family that already lives here. This is often one of the more difficult things for sellers, but family photos and other highly personalized items should be replaced with pictures of landscapes, other neutral artwork or just remove altogether. This will allow the buyers to imagine the home as “theirs” and allow them to focus on the home itself rather than the people that live there. Plus, viewing personal items, especially in the bedroom and bathroom, can make buyers feel like they are invading someone else’s space, which is the exact opposite effect you are going for!
Declutter your closets – If your closets and other storage spaces are jam-packed with stuff it screams to the buyer “there’s not enough storage here!” Buyers want to know that all of their belongings will fit in their new home. Since you are moving and will soon be packing up, now is the best time to go through your closets and storage spaces to decide what you actually want to keep, donate, and sell. Even if you plan on keeping everything, boxing up things you don’t need now or things you can live without for a bit will make your storage spaces look more open and accommodating. This is especially important if your closets are smaller. You want them to feel as large as possible.
Remove Evidence of Pets – I get it, I’m a dog person. It is hard for those of us who love our fur babies to imagine that the presence of pets can be off-putting to buyers but remember that not everyone likes animals. Plus, their presence can make buyers worry about a number of additional things like lingering smells or potential damage to the property. Plus, many people have allergies so it is best to remove all traces of pets. This includes food bowls, litter boxes, beds, toys, and, of course, the animals themselves.
Ensure each space a purpose – If you have any unused or awkward spaces, use staging to give it a purpose. This is why staging works so well when selling. It helps give the buyer ideas about how they can use a space and can make otherwise awkward areas seem cozy and attractive. Add a small desk or cozy chair to a nook or add patio furniture to a large deck to show exactly how awesome space is and what it might be used for. Word of warning, while you can have some creative license here, try not to deviate much from the space’s intended purpose. For example, creating an office in what should be a dining room will generally say to the buyer something along the lines of “there’s not enough space in this house for an office so I created one here.” Not sure how to use a space? This is where a great realtor comes in! They have seen A TON of homes and should have some great ideas about how to best show a space.
Clear the Counters – remove as many things as possible from your kitchen and bathroom counters, ESPECIALLY if counter space is limited. Pack up or hide small appliances that might normally have a home on your counters. This also includes things like kitchen utensils and décor that are usually housed on the counters. And ESPECIALLY personal items like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, razors, medications, etc.
Maximize Lighting – Bright rooms feel clean and welcoming. If you have good natural light in a room, maximize it by opening the blinds and opening or even removing other window treatments, especially if they’re heavy or dark. Light makes the space feel bigger and more open too, so it is a great resource to have on your side. Not a lot of natural light in a space? No worries. Upgrade the bulbs in light fixtures to the maximum allowable wattage to create that bright airy feel artificially. Still not bright enough? Find a way to add light colors to the room to brighten it up even more.
Add “Homey” Touches – fresh pillows and throws over a chair or on the couch can make a room feel cozy and more like home. Setting the table can also make the dining area appear more inviting. If you’re not sure where to start, this is also something your realtor can help with!
Take Pictures – sometimes it’s easier to assess the staging of your home via pictures rather instead of standing in the room. Does the room look cluttered or busy? If so, you might want to re-arrange furniture, remove some décor or wall art to declutter. The room should feel open and light, not closed off, and cluttered.
Do a Walkthrough – once you think your house is clean and ready do a final walkthrough as if you were a buyer. Start by pulling in the driveway and walking up to the front door just as a buyer would. Take note of any last-minute maintenance that needs to be done (squeaky doors, locks that stick, burnt-out lightbulbs, dusty corners, etc) or anything else that might use a little extra decluttering. Check these final items off of your list before your first buyer walks through.
I know that some of these tips might be difficult because your home is such a personal space. It can be hard to think of strangers intruding on your space and looking through every single space. But keep in mind that your home is also probably one of your largest investments and when you put it on the market you want to try to get the best possible return on that investment. Need strategies for how to live in your newly staged home? This can be particularly tricky, especially with kids, so check out some tips from professional stagers on how to make it work without creating added stress. As hard as it is, shifting your frame of mind to consider your home an asset will help you make the right decisions to sell quickly and for top dollar!