When you’ve decided to sell your home and move in somewhere else, you’re already thinking about where to put the couch, what color to paint the bedroom, and what curtains you want to buy. But if you haven’t been thinking about how you’re going to stage your own home while it’s on the market, you’ll have a lot more stress to deal with than you ever intended.
Step 1. Clean Up
Before you re-decorate, agree to some showings, or even let your realtor in to take pictures for the listing, your first priority should be to get the house in ship-shape. Take this opportunity to dust in the places you always forget about (light fixtures, top of the refrigerator), wipe down all the little nooks and crannies (floor molding, cabinet corners), and to polish all the appliances if they’re going to stay, especially if they’re stainless steel.
Next, it’s time to repair anything that needs fixing. Anything from a broken towel rack that’s been squeaking to a toilet that doesn’t stop running, you need to make sure your house looks and functions as if it’s brand new, even if it’s not. After you have the house sparkling and the repairs squared away, maintenance should be fairly minor and simple while you’re house is on the market.
Step 2. Neutralize
When someone comes to see your house for a showing, whether it’s a newlywed couple looking for a place to start their family or retirees shopping for a relaxing oasis, they’re going to want to envision their life in your house. That can be hard to do if you have family pictures hanging on the walls, the kid’s homework taped to the refrigerator, and your personal collection of teddy bears taking up the couch. Potential buyers don’t want to see how you live, they want to see how they will live.
Go through the house and pack up any personal items: photographs, knick-knacks, awards, and so on. Also, if the majority of showings will happen while you’re not at home, it’s a good idea to pack up anything too personal. You wouldn’t want your grandmother’s china to get broken, or worse, stolen!
Step 3. Get Organized
You’ve already cleaned the house, congratulations. But what about all that clutter? Often times, sellers will get everything into shape except for that “one closet” or that “one corner of the garage.” But even if you manage to confine all your extra stuff into one area, that can be a red flag for many potential buyers.
An overflowing closet or a messy corner of the garage can tell a potential buyer that you haven’t been taking care of the house. It might look squeaky clean right now, but this one space of junk might lead them to believe that there’s an underlying issue here. So take some time to organize, de-clutter, and get rid of anything you won’t need in your next house. Not only will packing up and moving be easier on you, but also potential buyers won’t be so weary of what other surprises they might find.
Step 4. Light ‘Em Up
Homes are more comforting and welcoming when they’re brightly lit. They also appear to be more spacious with the right kind of lighting. Therefore, you should not only make sure to have all lights on during a showing, but you should make sure that you don’t have any burnt out bulbs, improperly place lighting, or dark corners.
A few tricks for getting the right lighting is to have the right kinds of light bulbs in the right places. In the kitchen, you’ll want to see everything clearly so clear light bulbs with a high wattage are a great choice. On the other hand, an office or reading den would be better suited with a warmer, more yellow light with a lower wattage.
Don’t forget about outdoor lighting, either. If any potential buyers come by at night, they’ll be looking for lighting in the yard, on the porch, outside of the garage, and perhaps even security lighting around the house. As a general rule of thumb, when staging a house, the more light the better.
Step 5. Get Some Props
While this step is completely optional, professional home stagers make use of props all the time. Having a few candles here, some plants there, and maybe even a couple extra mirrors in hallways can show off the potential a house has. Here are a few more props you can think about when staging your house: flowers, lamps, extra furniture, kitchen and dining accessories, such as a place setting or cutting board, and possibly even food. Again, these are completely optional but it gives potential buyers a sense of how they can utilize each space.
Don’t put your house on the market before you’ve properly staged it. Having a messy home, or even a clean but completely personalized house can put off potential buyers. Make sure your house looks clean, inviting, and ready for someone else to come in, settle down, and create their own memories there.
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