Our homes are personal spaces that reflect our personalities, preferences and lifestyles. It can be a difficult task to remove your story and create a blank canvas for potential buyers to “mentally move in”. If they can envision their life in the space you create, they will be more likely to make an offer. Home staging accentuates the positive features of your home while downplaying the weaker aspects. The effort you place in preparing your home for sale is worth the payoff. Real estate experts agree staged homes sell 87% faster than non-staged homes and on the average bring 17% higher offers. I will outline 5 simple steps to stage your home. When I say simple, I do not mean easy, the work is actually quite daunting. You may require professional assistance. The steps however are simple to grasp. You will easily understand what needs to be accomplished to market your home for them maximum price. Results are dictated by the amount of effort you place in following these steps.
1. Remove All Non-Essential Items
First remove all non-essential items from the home. This will be the most difficult and important step in staging your house for sale. Buyers can not see past clutter. Excessive stuff shrinks space making it appear too small. Selling your home can be a great time to downsize. Reducing things from your life can energize and give you a new sense of freedom. Remember, you have to do this process either way. Doing the work up front offers the most reward.
Closets, cupboards, garages, and outbuildings are being considered as well. Pack away off-seasonal items, and any items not essential for your daily life. Look for redundancy. If you have multiple items choose which one stays in the home and which one can be removed.
Every item will need a label: Keep for staging, Pitch, Pack, Gift, or Donate. Items moving with you should be packed and stored off site. Items you no longer need can be donated, recycled or gifted. This is a difficult process that takes time. One pass will not accomplish the task; keep looking for ways to reduce items throughout the time your home is for sale.
2. Thoroughly Clean The Home
The second step is to thoroughly clean the home. We all live with a level of untidiness and uncleanliness that we are comfortable with. When you are putting your house on stage, you must maintain the highest standard of clean. Think about your expectations from a resort or hotel and aim for that level of cleanliness.
Details matter! Make sure all glass surfaces are sparkling as clean windows and mirrors reflect light. All carpeted surfaces should be cleaned. If there is excessive stains, hire a professional. Things you generally overlook, you must see and address. Clean crevices such as window tracks, tub grout and lime or calcifications on faucets.
Although your pets are family, not every home buyer feels the same adoration for indoor animals. Repair any damage caused by pets. Do your best to remove signs of them when showings are requested. Take your four legged family members with you when your home is being shown.
Aromatherapy is a proven retail strategy that increases sales, so use it! Do not use overpowering scents; choose light, clean aromas that are barely noticeable.
3. Neutralize / Depersonalize
Look around your home and notice where it reflects your story. Remove decor that reflects your preferences for hobbies, brands, teams, religious affiliations, political parties or activities. Pack these away for your future home where you intend to add your story. Replace them with neutral decor such as mirrors, clocks, nature prints or abstracts.
Use neutral wall colors to create a blank canvas. Buyers want to see potential where their color choices could be added. Your colors may present a problem if the buyer does not have the same taste.
Add pops of color with decorative pillows and throw blankets that are easily seen and yet not problematic if they aren’t enjoyed. Update shower curtains and bed linens with appealing patterns and colors. Research websites such as Pinterest and Amazon to find what is trending. Simple decor gives creative ideas without permanence. It is important to depersonalize your exterior buildings and yard spaces as well. Vehicles also reflect you, I recommend removing them from showings. There is unease when walking around someone’s things; when your story is removed, people begin to write theirs into it.
4. Furniture Placement Is Everything
Once your home is reduced to only necessary items for daily living, cleaned to a show worthy status, neutralized and depersonalized, you are ready to place furniture to highlight the functionality of each room. Often our furniture placement reflects our lifestyle, not necessarily the homes functionality. Rearrange the furniture multiple times until it expands the space and fits the best functionality of each room. Do not block walk throughs or doorways with furniture.
Many times furniture needs to be reduced. If bedrooms are small, consider removing non-essential furniture pieces such as bedside tables, chairs and large bed frames. If your furniture is outdated, bulky, or does not fit the function well, consider borrowing or renting furniture that is perfect for the home.
Don’t forget outdoor spaces. Decks and outdoor furniture can be arranged to create intimate spaces of gathering.
5. Professional Photography
If you have done all this work to properly stage your home, ensure that a professional photographer is being used as part of the marketing plan. Many real estate agents cut corners by not hiring a professional photographer. This is a costly mistake. Make sure the real estate agent you choose is willing to invest in professional photos, if not, they are not marketing you home for an optimal sale.
Professional photos help your home to stand out above the thousands listed on the MLS. Many home buyers choose houses to view based on photos making it extremely important. Photos will grab the buyers attention while all the diligent work of staging will complete the sale.
Professional photographers understand the angles, lighting and focus to appeal to the viewers. Do not underestimate it’s value. You will be relinquishing 7% of the sale price for professional services and marketing. Choosing the right real estate agent that will market the home professionally is worth it!
Staging your home for sale is difficult work. Enlist the help of friends and family, and know what tasks you should utilize professionals for. Remember that the work will need to be done either way, before or after the sale of your home. Doing it up front reaps the best rewards and will make moving easier once the home sells. Letting go creates space for something new. You have decided to let go of this home, so removing your story from the home will help potential buyers to envision their life in the neutral space you create. Staged homes sell more quickly and for more money, so be ready to move when the home is listed. Before you know it you will be moving on with a little more in your pocket.