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Staging Your Home to Sell in Any Market

Updated on December 12, 2013
Staging Your Home to Sell
Staging Your Home to Sell | Source

So, you’ve decided to move! You probably have an idea of where you’d like to live next and may even already own your next home and are looking forward to getting settled in there. Hang on…there is one thing you have to do first. You need to find a buyer for your home.

Selling a home can be a very stressful process. After all, you have to keep the home ‘show ready’ at a moment’s notice or you risk losing that buyer. I’m going to assume that you live in the home and haven’t moved to your new place yet for simplicity. If you have already moved, there are different staging ideas that would apply, but suffice it to say it will be even simpler to keep things clean and in order so your home is in great condition for those showings. If you live in the home, I’ll show you how with a few simple steps your home can be “The One” for buyers looking in your area.

The first thing to do is to look at your home through a critical eye. That can often be hard, so if you want to call in a (HONEST) friend or two that may be helpful. Keep in mind that your goal is to make a potential buyer be able to see him or herself living in your home. That means it should be free of the personalization that makes YOU comfortable in your home. It should be a blank canvas that is warm and inviting.

I’ll bet when you’ve looked for a place to call home you have known it was “The One” almost from the beginning. Sometimes you get that feeling when you drive up, sometimes when you first enter the front door, and sometimes you don’t get that realization that this is “The One” until you enter the kitchen. All three of these places are the most common decision-making moments.

Staging Your Home to Sell
Staging Your Home to Sell | Source

Curb Appeal

The importance of curb appeal cannot be overstated. You want to put your best foot forward! First impressions COUNT! Make sure your yard is free from debris and looks well kept. Trim trees and shrubs, plant seasonal color with flowers in pots at the front door, on the porch and/or at curbside.

The front door itself should be the focal point. Make it standout with a tasteful, dynamic color if possible and use good painting skills. Don’t break any HOA rules of course, but often a shade or two darker than the trim color is all it takes.

Of course if you want to go for a vibrant color that really makes a statement, make it a choice that most buyers won’t find offensive. Blues convey trust and are the universal favorite color of most people. Reds are the warmest of all colors and suggest energy and vibrancy. Reds are often the favorite color for males. Green is the color most found in nature, is considered calming, and is associated with renewal and rebirth. It goes without saying that the body and trim colors of your home should coordinate with the color chosen for the door.

While we’re addressing the door, make sure the hardware is free of rust and in good working order. Nobody likes to have a hard time turning the key in the lock or forcing open a door! A colorful and tasteful doormat also helps welcome your potential buyer. This isn’t the time for quirky statements or off-color phrases. Save that for your new home if you must.

If your garage is front and center, not particularly welcoming or attractive and takes attention from your front door, soften it with boxed plantings on either side. That can be done in a snap for little expense and looks so pretty when you drive up.

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De-Clutter

The next thing on your list to do requires some De-Cluttering. Many times buyers are turned off the moment they step inside because of the clutter. If you’re planning to move, you know that you’re going to have to pack things anyway, so go ahead and box most of your treasures ahead of time.

Besides, that’s less to do right before moving day. The family portraits, your personal collections, etc. should not be a distraction if you want the buyer to visualize this as THEIR home. No matter how beautifully decorated your home is, if it looks like YOUR home it’s impossible for the buyer to connect to it as possibly theirs.

Furniture should be minimized to make rooms appear spacious and light. If you have a storage building or extra room in the garage, use it to stash your boxed treasures and extra furniture. If you don’t have anywhere to stash excess furniture from your Great room and/or Living room, try moving it to another area.

An armchair moved to a corner in a bedroom, accompanied by a small table with a lamp and stack of books, becomes a relaxing reading nook and sitting area. A little-used dining table can be placed in front of a pretty window and accessorized with lamps, flowers and stationary to become a writing desk or an office space. If you stage it a bit differently it can be seen as a great place for kids to do their homework.

Use your imagination! It can be fun to see your home in a whole different light.

Something to consider when de-cluttering the main living area is that old rule about putting furniture against the walls. Forget that rule! In fact, block it from your mind because it is no longer an ideal arrangement. Instead, consider moving the furniture (that you’ve pared down by de-cluttering) into small conversation groups. It opens the room up and invites a feeling of comfort and warmth.

As you’re de-cluttering please consider the artwork along with your personal family photos. A few well-placed pieces go a long way. Every wall should not be covered in art or hangings. And while we’re discussing this, it might be a good time to mention that you shouldn’t have anything too controversial or suggestive on display, including books, magazines, or the raccoon that your Great-Uncle Waldo killed in 1953 that you’ve somehow found yourself the lucky recipient. Don’t forget to patch holes where you’ve previously had things hanging. It makes the whole space look much larger to have some open space on walls.

Cleaning

Cleaning is super important. Everything from top to bottom must sparkle! Clean windows (a biggie!), dust and polish furniture, and scrub kitchens and bathrooms. Have your carpets cleaned, and remember area rugs too. You can maintain this with a quick run-through every morning: Make beds, hang towels, pick up clothes or toys and stash where appropriate, and run the vacuum as necessary.

I know it’s not easy with the hectic lives we all lead, but it’s very worthwhile to take the time to maintain the state of clean. You never know what buyer is going to be around the corner. By the way, if you’re looking for great cleaning products that you probably already have around the house, check out this website with instructions for making your own cleaning products, along with a video of the process.

Color

Color is very important in showing your home to its best advantage. In fact, it’s the #1 way to give every room in your house a fresh look. Inside walls should be neutralized. If your daughter’s favorite color is purple and her room is now that shade, return it to a neutral color. The same rule applies for all of your rooms.

You have to appeal to the majority. Remember that neutral walls are always appealing and never offend. Contrary to what you may have heard, beige is NOT boring! It is especially right when you are trying to create clean, open and light rooms. Linen white is a ‘go to’ color for many designers. Also consider shades of honey, soft grays or soft blue-greens are very appropriate, if you feel you must choose some color. Keep it light! Keep it airy!

Staging Your Home to Sell
Staging Your Home to Sell | Source

Kitchen

The kitchen deserves a mention being the room that makes or breaks most decisions to purchase a home. People live in their kitchens. It’s the heart of the home, the place where meals are shared, and where memories are made. If there is one room that must be spic-n-span, it’s your kitchen. In fact, it should look like Mr. Clean lives in your kitchen.

Remove small appliances and items from the countertops, organize the contents of the cabinets and pantry (if you have one), and display fresh flowers or greenery where appropriate. Take down all of your children’s ‘artwork’ on the refrigerator and remove the ‘reminders’ and invitations you’ve put there with magnets.

De-cluttering (there’s that word again!) makes the kitchen look cleaner, brighter, and larger. The kitchen sink should be sparkling clean and free of dirty dishes and the cooktop and oven free of food stains and grease. If your cabinets have seen better days, a good clean and some new pulls and knobs can do wonders. Buy a few pretty new hand towels to display.

Smells

You know how entering somewhere with an unpleasant smell makes you want to leave as fast as you can? Well that’s what we want to avoid in your home. There should be no pet odors, cigarette or cigar smoke, or last night’s dinner lingering in the air.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t use a plug-in air freshener, a scented candle, or any kind of spray to cover those smells. In fact, that is all they do… cover the smell. The smell is there… lurking underneath that Spring Fresh or French Vanilla scent waiting to assail the buyers’ nostrils. Remember, NO smell is the best smell. If that is not possible, a CLEAN smell does not offend. Just don’t overdo it with heavy cleaning products. You want the buyer to think “Home Sweet Home” not “How’d I get in this hospital?!”

A nice suggestion: Flowers – use them! Greenery – use it! You can pick up small inexpensive floral arrangements at most grocery stores and markets. Divide them up and use a few stems in the kitchen and each bathroom. Dining spaces make an impact with a fresh floral display. If you have blooms or trees/shrubs that are colorful in your yard, open your windows! Fragrant greenery can help sanitize the air very nicely.

Staging Your Home to Sell
Staging Your Home to Sell | Source

Bathroom

The bathroom also must also be clean and well lit. For the Master Bathroom, think ‘calm oasis’ and go for a spa-like setting. Rolled fluffy towels in white or a neutral color in baskets, some candles (again in light neutral colors) on the tub or vanity area, a teak shower mat and/or a teakwood stool can help you achieve that look. Minimal is better and clean is a MUST. The secondary bathrooms can follow suit, or if you’d rather, you can go for a different theme. Just remember that simple is better.

Storage

Aside from curb appeal, room size/space, and kitchens, one of the top things on a buyer’s list is storage. Have your closets and shelves well organized. If the closets are bursting and items fall out when the door is opened, that does not suggest abundant storage. Move it or lose it!

Under bed storage boxes can be used to stash extra clothes/shoes in bedrooms if necessary. Most people donate a lot of unused items and clothing to a charitable organization when they move. Consider doing that BEFORE you show your house to maximize the storage potential at your home for your prospective buyer.

Make it Memorable

Often buyers are looking at multiple homes in one day, and most often they are looking at your neighbor’s home that is for sale too because they’ve targeted your area as the place they want to live. You want yours to be MEMORABLE. Simple things make your home memorable.

*A vibrant bouquet on the dining room table or kitchen counter

*A beautiful quilt at the foot of a bed

*A Home Book - if you have a list of recent updates or installations of new features that you’ve done in your home by all means, display that in a small binder on the kitchen counter (Next to those fresh flowers or greenery would be nice). If your home has landscaping that shines during certain seasons of the year and you have photos during that time, include those in the binder.

Each of these ideas would definitely make your home memorable.

Staging Your Home to Sell
Staging Your Home to Sell | Source

Showing day!

*Turn on the lamps, open blinds, curtains and shutters. If it’s a nice day and you don’t live in a noisy area, open your windows. Let the light in!

*Do your run-through and make beds, stash personal items like magazines, books, toys, and clothing. Hang towels in bathrooms.

*Make sure kitchen and bathrooms sparkle!

*Raid your yard for fresh flowers or greenery, if you don’t have them from your last trip to the grocery store or market.

*Turn on soft music that is relaxing and not controversial. Spa sounds usually don’t offend anyone.

After using these steps, you will have set the stage and transformed your home into “buyer bait”. In no time, the buyer that was meant for your home will walk through your newly de-cluttered, clean as a whistle abode, and say, “I’ve got to HAVE it!”

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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness

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