You may have heard the term staging before, and you may have some idea of what it means. When you’re getting ready to list your house, staging is one of the most important steps you can take to attract buyers, encourage offers, and earn the highest price. Perception is everything, and when potential buyers come to view your house for sale, their first impression becomes a lasting impression. Your house is only worth as much money as buyers are willing to pay – and people are willing to shell out more dough for a clean, move-in-ready house than they are for a dingy fixer-upper project. To get your home in tip-top shape for showings, here’s your ultimate guide to staging.
Curb Appeal | Working From the Outside In
The exterior of your house and the yard are the first things buyers see when they come to explore your house for sale. People are either wowed by how nice the house looks, discouraged by untidy appearance, or may decide all together that it’s not worth the view and keep on moving to the next house with a for sale sign. Your task, when staging your home’s exterior and yard, is to win the buyers over with charm.
Begin by clearing away any trash, debris, toys, bikes, and lawn ornaments. Pull any weeds, remove any dead plants.
You may find it beneficial to power-wash the exterior of the structure. Once the outside of the structure is clean, check for chipped or peeling paint or stains that you couldn’t wash off. You can then determine if a fresh coat of paint is in order. You may have to make the investments of time, money, and effort to give the outside of your home some tender loving care, but you’ll see the returns of those efforts in the sale of the home.
Inspect the windows. Wash the windows thoroughly. Add fresh caulking – not only to seal the windows but because new, white caulking makes the windows appear cleaner and well maintained. Replace window screens if they’re torn or bent. If there are flower boxes beneath windows, give them a makeover with fresh paint and lively flowers.
If there’s grass in the yard, keep it mowed. Bushes, hedges, and shrubs should all be well manicured and maintained through the sale of the house. Consider adding colorful flowers near the doors and windows for visual appeal.
Add new lightbulbs to porch lights and use a broom to clear away cobwebs from outdoor light fixtures.
Decorative patio furniture can remain in the yard throughout showings but should be arranged into conversation areas.
Clearing Out the Clutter
Inside the house, your first order of business is to clear away the clutter.
Have a safe place to store important documents, photographs, or other paperwork you’ll need to have handy between now and the time you move. Having a filing system also eliminates the tendency to stack papers in piles that shift from room to room or get scattered throughout the home. If you have a portable filing system such as an accordion folder, you can bring that with you into each room as you organize, so there’s a safe place to tuck away paperwork as you sort through the each space.
This is the time to sort through every single item in your possession and determine whether it should be organized, packed, or recycled via yard sales or donations. Start with one room at a time and complete that room before moving to another; otherwise, you may find yourself in a chaotic environment that feels overwhelming.
You may find it helpful to have three plastic bins or totes to work with, one labeled keep, one marked pack, and one for items to recycle. Keep a trash bag with you as well. So now you’re armed with a place to store paperwork, a way to discard waste and a way to sort belongings. You’ll find that once you clear a room, it’s easier to organize the items from your “keep” bin, reincorporating them into the area until moving day.
Don’t forget the closets. This decluttering is an excellent time to try on clothes from your wardrobe to determine if you still like them, if they still fit, or if they’re ready to be donated or sold. Keep in mind, people touring your home will most definitely be opening closet doors, so make sure your closets are tidy, not over-stuffed with things you may never wear or use again.
Removing Yourself from the Equation | Depersonalize
When moving into your home, one of the most enjoyable elements was likely the process of hanging your favorite photographs, displaying your collectibles, showcasing your religious tributes, or otherwise imbuing the space with your unique personality. When it’s time to prepare to move, undoing those personal touches can be difficult, but necessary.
Now is the time to pack away that salt and pepper collection, your beautiful assortment of bells, the multitude of elephant statues, or other items you cherish but potential buyers might not. Remember, people considering purchasing your house want to envision their belongings in the home, not feel as though they’re a guest in yours.
Any pictures remaining on the walls should be non-personal. Think of touring a model home where the wall hangings are of flowers, fruit, or sunsets. They’re beautiful pictures, but they don’t have people in them, and they could belong to anyone.
We live in a diverse culture with varying belief systems. Some of your items may trigger negative reactions in potential buyers whose views differ from yours. For example, a pagan homeowner’s pentacle may be offensive to others, or a confederate flag may make some people uncomfortable. Political statements can have the same result. A staunch Democrat may take offense to signed pictures of Republican politicians. There’s nothing at all wrong with you having your beliefs and celebrating those concepts openly in your home, but when you’re listing your house for sale, it’s best to remove items that may eliminate some buyers.
Be Security Conscious
Remove precious, expensive, dangerous, or sentimental possessions from the property before showings. Why risk your heirloom jewelry that has passed through multiple generations? You may have weapons in your home for your protection, but that could pose a grave danger to others touring your house. You may have an amazing collection of samurai swords, but in the wrong hands, those are deadly. Secure items you’re not prepared to replace or that may pose a threat to people exploring your house as if its their own.
Simplifying Furniture | Minimizing the Bulk
Furniture can make a room appear much smaller than it is, can darken and dim a room, and can give the vibe of stuffy. On the contrary, buyers want to experience spacious, airy, and open. Think about storing china cabinets, hutches, armoires, over-stuffed furniture, or other items that you may wish to keep but might not need for the time being. Furniture that remains should be arranged into conversation areas, preferably away from the walls.
Neutralizing a home means that you adjust paint, drapes, carpet, wallpaper, or bold statements of style. For example, you might adore that red and white rooster wallpaper, but that’s not an aesthetic everyone can appreciate. If a potential buyer doesn’t like that wallpaper, they instantly envision a project that requires time and money to fix, which makes the property less appealing as a purchase. However, if the walls are a muted neutral color such as beige, gray, sage green, or other soft shades, they don’t draw the attention that bold styles will.
Here’s a task you can outsource if you’re not that into cleaning. Hire a professional cleaning company, or prepare to roll up your sleeves to lay down some serious elbow grease. This deep cleanse isn’t the time to give your home’s interior a quick sponge bath, but to dig way deep down into the nitty gritty and clean things you may not have thought about the entire time you’ve lived in that house.
Baseboards. Ceiling fans. Air vents. Behind the refrigerator. Under the stove. Bleach the bathtubs and sinks. Pay particular attention to toilets, including at the base. Wash doors and doorknobs. Clean windows. Wipe down each shelf in the cabinets and pantry. Vacuum. Sweep. Mop. Not only should everything look fresh and clean, but it should also smell good.
Don’t forget under the sinks. Organize any personal items that you must keep before the move and make sure the under-sink areas are clean and dry. Damp vanities can indicate plumbing problems as well as create unpleasant odors.
Use white linens as decor in the bathroom because they give the impression of a crisp, clean environment and a spa-like appeal. Although your bathroom must remain functional for your household until you move, your home is open to the public while listed for sale. Avoid hanging wet towels on the shower rod or shower hooks. Don’t leave wet washcloths in the shower.
Repair and Replace
With the spaces decluttered, depersonalized, neutralized, and cleaned, you can now step back and see what eye-sores catch your attention. Are there stains or tears on the carpet? Are there holes in the walls from where you took down your pictures? Are the window blinds cracked? Remember, the people considering making a significant investment to purchase your property are going to see the worst, not the best in your house and anything that’s eye-catching in a negative way becomes a project in their perception. Enough projects can equate to either negotiation for a lower price, allowances for repairs, or may turn off the buyer altogether. If something’s broke, fix it. If you can’t repair it, replace it.
You may be surprised at what small upgrades can do to your bottom line when selling a house. For a handful of dollars and minimal effort, you can replace drawer pulls, cupboard handles, door knobs, light switch covers, caulking, and other items that could give your house an elegant, modern touch.
Formal dining rooms were all the rave at one point, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. In fact, more people are converting formal dining areas into office spaces, craft areas, or homework nooks. Arrange furnishings in such a way that buyers can envision using each space in multiple ways.
Window coverings should extend from the ceiling to the floor to enlarge the appearance of windows. During showings, have the window coverings open to allow in the most natural light possible.
Baked Goods, Live Plants, and Bowls of Fruit
You may have no intention of winning over potential buyers with your baking skills, but there’s no denying that people love the smell of freshly baked cookies – and a plate of cookies on the kitchen counter give a house a homey feel. If you can’t bake, that’s okay – store bought cookies give the same feeling, and you can light a candle with kitchen-friendly aromas such as apple pie, sugar cookie, or pumpkin spice.
Live plants make a home look lived in without being overly personal. Without words, plants suggest that life thrives within that space.
There’s a lot of work that goes into properly staging a house for sale. From the outside of the property and yard into every nook and cranny inside, the spaces have to be organized, depersonalized, neutralized, sterilized, and accessorized for showings. However, a little bit of staging goes a long way in wooing and romancing would-be-buyers. Your goal with staging is to win house-shoppers over with a charming, clean, move-in-ready home in which they can grow with their loved ones and make memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime.
If you’re not up to the task of cleaning or staging your property yourself, check into professional staging and cleaning companies who can do the unpleasant tasks for you. The effort you invest in preparing your home for showings could be the differentiating factor between someone submitting an offer on your house or the other house for sale down the street.
This information is provided courtesy of The Eastside Real Estate Team. Keep us in mind for all your real estate needs. Call us today at 425-200-4093.