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Home Staging: Sell a Lifestyle, Not Just a House

Updated on August 7, 2015

Selling your home can be a daunting task, but with a good home staging strategy, you will have a better chance at home selling success. According to Stagedhomes.com, staged houses sell an average of 80% faster and in many cases for more money than their non-staged comparables. The reason? Buyers are not looking only to buy a house, they are seeking a new lifestyle. A successfully staged home can create an environment that enables a buyer to envision themselves living a new and improved lifestyle.

Not every buyer has the same lifestyle criteria, and not every house is capable of meeting all the lifestyle requirements of each buyer. However, the more your house appeals to a broad spectrum of home seekers, the better chance you have of finding that right buyer. So, how do you represent a home in a manner that will appeal to many different tastes and needs? With a few key lifestyle basics.

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Clear the Clutter

In a hectic world, a home should be a haven, a calming place where a homeowner can retreat, relax, and recharge. Show your potential buyers that in your house, they will find order and calm.

To begin, clear any and all clutter. Clutter represents the opposite of order. All of us have clutter in our homes, but while your home is on the market, you need to present a soothing, clutter-free environment to potential buyers. Clear surfaces of papers, mail, toys, etc. Do not be tempted to stuff clutter ’out of sight’ because buyers do look in drawers, cabinets and closets when they tour homes. Clean up and organize these spaces, too.

Clutter is not relegated to only papers or junk mail. A bookshelf crammed full of books and collectables reads as clutter to an objective observer. Pack up your books, collectables, family photos, and other non-essential items displayed on shelves, bookcases, or tables. A couple key decorative pieces in each room is enough. A buyer is looking for an inviting space in which they can picture themselves living, not a space filled with mementos of your life and interests. Your book collection may be interesting to you, but a buyer can become distracted and even feel anxious in a room full of someone else’s personal items. Make the buyers think that if they move into your house, they will live a life that is organized and clutter free, too.

Keep it Clean

It may seem obvious, but cleaning your house thoroughly before a showing is of paramount importance. Would a car dealership try to sell a dirty car? No. Would a clothing boutique try to sell a blouse with a coffee stain on the sleeve? Never. So why would you try to sell your home without cleaning and sprucing it up? The idea is to present it looking its absolute best to attract buyers. Think of it as a job interview for your house. You wouldn’t go to a job interview wearing a dirty wrinkled suit, would you? Of course not. Buyers want to see a clean, well maintained home. The new and improved lifestyle they are seeking does not include washing windows and scrubbing baseboards as soon as they move in. Dust-free baseboards and ceiling fans, sparkling bathtubs, freshly steam cleaned carpets, etc. can go a long way in convincing a buyer that your house is The One.

Freshen & Fix

Of course every home requires some work to keep it up, but you can give your potential buyers the impression that your house offers a low maintenance lifestyle. Most buyers are not interested in a future full of minor home repairs, so make any necessary fixes before you put your house on the market. Repair that squeaky door and freshen up that peeling or scuffed paint, so they don't become an issues during showings. Simple things you may have overlooked, such as a burned out light bulb, can be a potential ‘red flag’ to buyers. Ordering your own home inspection prior to putting your house on the market is a great idea. Finding potential problems and fixing them ahead of time may help you avoid any delays in closing the sale, which is worth the money spent on a pre-sale inspection.

The outdoor spaces of your home are important, too, so don’t forget your home’s curb appeal when staging. A nicely manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs, clean porches and walkways, and outdoor lighting in good working order, give an inviting first impression to buyers. We all know that the outside of a house requires just as much (if not more) maintenance as the inside. We are aware that grass and shrubs grow and that leaves and sticks will inevitably fall onto porches, sidewalks and patios; however, buyers do not need to be reminded of these facts of home ownership while looking at your house. Give them the impression that your outdoor spaces require little or no work upon moving in. Less yard work? That is a lifestyle anyone would want to embrace!

Update it to Make it Great

Most buyers are looking for a bit of an upgrade in their lifestyle when they search for a new home to buy; however, not every home seller’s staging budget consists of adding high-end stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or Carrier marble vanity tops in the bathrooms. Regardless of the age of your house, a few simple updates can work just as well to give a potential buyer the impression that they are moving up in the world and into a home that offers some modern amenities.

A simple change in wall color can update a space instantly. Outdated finishes, such as faux wood paneling, sponge painting or vinyl wall paper date a home dramatically and do anything but evoke that modern, fresh feel so many buyers want. Strip that wall paper and paint or take down that paneling. Paint your walls in soothing neutral tones that will compliment anyone’s décor, such as tan, taupe, and sage green. If you have wood trim and molding, paint it white or cream to give a slight contrast between it and the wall color. This not only draws attention to a great selling feature of your home, but it updates the overall feel of the rooms--dark wood trim tends to date a space (think 1970’s and ‘80’s) as much as paneling and old wall paper.

If it is at all feasible in your budget, try to replace outdated light fixtures and ceiling fans. Besides wall finishes, nothing dates a house more than old lights. If possible, replace older brass fixtures with chrome or brushed nickel fixtures for a more up-to-date look.

Many times, bathroom tile tends reflect the era of your home--pink, green or even turquoise tiles might be found in a 1950’s or ‘60’s era home; while harvest gold, mauve and (dare we say it?) brown tiles tend to scream the 1970’s and ‘80’s. If a bathroom remodel is not possible before selling your home, try to minimize dated tile by choosing a complimentary wall color. For example, sage green works well with brown. Don’t forget the importance of the bathroom fixtures, too. A new chrome or brushed nickel faucet at the sink can do wonders for modernizing an old bathroom.

Through some simple, basic staging techniques, you can create an orderly, clean, low-maintenance and up-to-date home that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. Show potential buyers that your house, above all others, offers them the fabulous lifestyle they seek.

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