Statistically, according to StagedHomes.com, 94% of homes staged by staging professionals sold in an average of 29 days or less compared to the average 145 for un-staged homes. Additionally, homes staged by professionals stay on the market 83% LESS than a home that has not been staged. The proof is in the pudding…
Some homes may need the help of a professional stager—especially homes with a challenging layout. I have noticed some of my buyer clients have a difficult time wrapping their brains around homes with a very open layout. Without defined spaces, they find it hard to imagine what to do with all the room, especially in those homes that are vacant with no furniture. In those situations, I would highly recommend asking your real estate professional on their recommendations of professional home stagers. With that being said, there are several things that you can do yourself without incurring the cost of a professional. Here are 15 tips to staging your home…
1) CLEAN! I cannot stress the importance of this, seemingly obvious step. Kitchens and bathrooms should be spotless. Tubs & showers should be free of mold & mildew. New grout and caulk is inexpensive and makes a big impact. Mirrors should be spotless, counters in kitchen free of crumbs, sinks free of dishes, lighting fixtures & ceiling fans dusted. Any carpeted areas should be vacuumed; vinyl/tile/hardwoods swept, mopped and polished. Furniture dusted, blinds cleaned. Wipe down doors around the handles to get rid of hand smudges. Scrub your home top to bottom like you would for an annual spring cleaning. Cleaning sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how much impact a spotless home has.
2) DECLUTTER! Remove clutter on counters in kitchen and baths—especially if you don’t have a lot of counter space. Buyers want to walk in and see that they will have room to prepare meals and get ready for work in the morning. They do not need to see your blender or toaster taking up space. Put away your curling iron or other things you use in the morning to get ready. Of course, this may cause you to have to get up earlier in the morning to hide items that you use daily, but you NEED your home to be “show ready” at all times. You may get a call for a showing with little to no notice and you do not want to turn a potential buyer away because you don’t feel that the home is in the condition that you would like it to be seen. This could be YOUR buyer! Remember that the less things that are in your home, the BIGGER it will appear—and most people think, bigger is better! Make the effort to do these things every day.
3) MINIMIZE! Get rid of your junk! Toss those magnets from your fridge, clean off desk space and rid yourself of unwanted paper clutter. Do you even know what half the things are in your “junk drawer”? Buyers WILL be looking in your closets and kitchen drawers/cabinets. They need to visualize how their things will fit in their new home. Do not cram things that you do not need or use in to closets or drawers. Leaving the closet floors free of things makes them look bigger. Think…and be honest…about what you actually need and use. This could be a good opportunity for you to make some extra money by selling items in good condition on Craigslist or Ebay. Don’t forget that donating has great benefits as well! Many charities will drive to your home and pick up your unwanted items! Additionally, aside from the good feeling you get from giving back, get a receipt for your donations and write it off on your taxes! I call that a definite win-win!
4) REMOVE YOUR PERSONAL ITEMS! Although your new baby is precious and your wedding photos I’m sure are beautiful, buyers don’t need to see all 3,042 of them plastered all over your walls and in frames placed on every flat surface of your home. I am certainly not telling you to get rid of ALL of your family photos, but try to keep it to a minimum. Buyers want to envision themselves in the home and it makes it difficult when they see you and your family at every turn.
5) MAXIMIZE YOUR CURB APPEAL! They always say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! This statement couldn’t be more true when selling your home. Remove all dead plants and shrubbery and replace if needed, make sure sidewalks and front door walkways are clear of leaves and debris. Mow the lawn. Sweep the stoop! Replace those burnt out light bulbs at the front door that you’ve been meaning to get to. Get rid of cob webs around exterior doors and windows. Remove children’s toys left about the yard. Make sure flower beds are freshly mulched. Use an edger on your walkways and around trees and bushes to create clean, defined beds. Paint the front door if needed. Believe in the power of power washing! Your sidewalks, decks, brick, etc will look like new! You wouldn’t believe what a major difference it can make.
6) KEEP IT NEUTRAL! Super bright and dark paint colors are a major no-no in most cases. Really bright paints are distracting and dark paint can make a room look smaller. Keep in mind that most buyers start their home search online. If your pictures show rooms with crazy colors, they will more than likely pass it up all together. Rooms shouldn’t be painted a stark white, but a light khaki or beige, eggshell, light grays & blues—soft colors. These neutral colors tend to give a “homey” feel, making the rooms appear larger while also allowing the buyers to envision their own belongings in the room. You don’t have to have the entire house painted neutrally. You can leave an accent wall for a pop of color. To make rooms appear larger, paint adjacent rooms the same color—this will make both rooms appear to be one big space. Paint makes a huge impact. As paint is inexpensive, a lot of home owners (or potential homeowners in this case) will choose to paint themselves. When buyers think of repainting an entire house, they think of more work they will need to do and how expensive it will be if they hire a professional. This can be overwhelming and they will reduce their offer price because of it. Save them the trouble and do yourself a favor to get it sold more quickly—do it up front!
7) ORGANIZE! So this clearly goes hand-in-hand when you are doing steps 1, 2 & 3—but organizing IS a different category. Make sure that your linens and towels are folded nicely in closets—if you want to go a step further, organize by color. Buy inexpensive bins and baskets to put on shelves to hide random items. I am a big fan of a label maker. Having organized closets will make them appear to be larger and buyers can see all that they can fit. Be sure to organize the garage as well. Hang bikes, purchase cheap shelving and bins to store athletic equipment, yard items and outdoor toys. Buyers LOVE storage and organized spaces just appear to have more storage options. Organizing your home will not only be attractive to buyers, but it will make your move easier when you’re packing up…
8) LET THE LIGHT IN! Lighting is essential when staging a home. Make sure that all of your blinds & curtains are open when the house is being shown. Turn on all the lights and lamps in the home. Lighting makes a huge difference. No buyers want to walk in to a home that feels dark. Lights on make the home feel warm and welcoming. If it is an evening showing, be sure to turn on all exterior lights as well. If you don’t feel like the room is getting enough light from lack of windows, add a lamp or two for an ambient glow or up the wattage in your current lights.
9) DECORATE TASTEFULLY! If you are sticking to the list and keeping the paint neutral, little pops of color with decorations, throw pillows, curtains can go a long way. Do you have an outdated couch or chair? Consider a neutral slip cover—this is a relatively inexpensive way to freshen up that patterned couch or chair. Throw a few colorful throw pillows on it and you’ll have an instant update! Fake flowers look tacky, never do it. Fresh is always best—maybe grab some flowers/foliage from your yard or leave out a bowl of fruit or lemons in the kitchen. Outdated brick fireplace? Paint it a nice off white or light gray to make it pop! Picture frames in a particular room should match. Artwork should be tasteful—nudes aren’t recommended and they’re distracting. Teenager’s rooms shouldn’t be covered in posters. No one is trying to stifle your child’s ability to express themselves—just limit them to one or two and make sure that the ones they chose are in no way offensive. It is a temporary thing and they will live, despite their arguments otherwise. If you are moving artwork/pictures around, be sure to patch and paint over any holes left. You probably have leftover paint for the room, just make sure the paint is well shaken (you can take it to the store where you bought it and have them shake it in their machine). Paint that sits and is not stirred well tend to turn out a different color. Replace old mirrors in bathrooms with framed mirrors. Framed mirrors can be purchased pretty inexpensively if you know where to shop and if you’re handy, you can make a frame for mirrors you already have! When decorating walls, there is definitely a way to add too much, just as there is a way to not add enough. Don’t overload walls with artwork/pictures and don’t leave big walls barren. Make sure things that are hung are centered & level. If you have questions, ask a friend, family member, neighbor for their input before nailing & screwing things in.
10) REPOSITION FURNITURE! People are under the impression that furniture needs to be pushed against walls to make rooms seem larger—this is not necessarily the case. Having furniture floating away from the walls can really open up a room. Put two chairs next to each other, facing a couch to create a conversation area. Place your pieces so that the traffic flow is obvious. Remove extra furniture that can make the room seem cluttered. Just because you bought a particular chair or table to go in your living room, doesn’t mean it won’t look great in a corner of your bedroom. Mix it up!
11) MAKE USE OF YOUR SPACE! Transform a corner or nook that is just gathering junk or isn’t in use into a cozy reading corner or small office space. Define it by putting down a rug. Place a sofa table on an empty wall with a lamp and a couple picture frames. Play with pieces you already have. Maximize the usability of your home by making all of your spaces seem functional.
12) ACCESSORIZE! Just pictures frames and lamps can get repetitive and boring. Add vases, knick knacks, candlesticks, etc. Make sure to vary heights of these items, largest in the back. Groups of three like or similar items look best. Arrange them like a triangle, not lined up. For maximum effect, group things in like colors, textures and shapes. Adding shelving in a narrow space can create the look of depth, making the room feel larger.
13) DRESS UP THAT DATED KITCHEN! It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Remodeling an entire kitchen can get seriously expensive. There are relatively inexpensive and simple things that you can do to give the kitchen that updated look that buyers are looking for. If you can’t afford new cabinets, just look for new doors and drawer fronts. Paint everything to match then add new hardware—VOILA! Your kitchen will be like new! Be careful when painting cabinets to sand and use the right paint (you can ask for assistance at the hardware store if you are unsure of what type of paint to buy). Adding granite counter tops can get very pricey. For an inexpensive update, try having concrete countertops laid. Concrete countertops can have colors added to them for a really cool look. Believe it or not, some flooring can be used for countertops. Even tiles with a glaze over them or laminate counters can be used. You can even paint countertops, just sand first, then paint and seal them. Covering dated countertops with wood veneer or sheet metal gives a great look as well. Instead of replacing a dated or beat-up dishwasher, you may be able to just replace the front panel. Check with the manufacturer to see if that is an option. If not, laminate paper can be used—it goes on just like Contact paper!
14) BATHROOM RE-DO ON A BUDGET! As stated in number 13, bathrooms are pivotal when selling your home. Replace broken tiles, update fixtures if they are outdated (brass). If the tiles themselves are outdated, consider having them painted! This is a great way to update without ripping out all of the old tile and replacing it. Accessorize the bathroom with baskets, rolled towels and candles to give it that spa feel. You can use some of the same ideas from number 13 to update counters and cabinets. You can get an old dresser or vanity to use for an under-sink cabinet. Replace dated mirrors with framed mirrors. Caulk & Grout where needed and again, clean-Clean-CLEAN!
15) REPURPOSE & DON’T OVERSPEND! Remember that a lot of the things you can do to your home to get it show-ready, you can do yourself. Plan ahead. Try repurposing items that you already have by painting them or simply moving them in to a different room . Think outside of the box. Instead of buying a new bed for a room, make your own headboard, get an inexpensive bed frame and throw on a cheap air mattress. You can practically use anything to create a headboard—old doors & shutters, flooring materials, old table tops—the possibilities are truly endless! Then just add neutral patterned bedding. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make your home appealing to a buyer. Knowing where to shop can go a long way. Try antique and thrift stores for unique and inexpensive pieces. Outlet stores and overstock stores offer many penny pinching options for you.
Staging your home is a must these days to stand out to a buyer. Make your home shine in it’s best light and you’ll be glad you did. Think of the savings you will have selling your home within a month and not letting it drag on the market. Think of the time you will save. With a little elbow grease and a little bit of money, you’ll see the savings when your home sells quickly. Now get to work and get that home sold!