Whether you’re downsizing, upsizing or moving to a new city, selling your home is a big step. Staging is a term that gets tossed around a lot when it comes to home sales, but what, exactly does it mean, and how do you go about it?
The what and why of staging
Making small repairs and things of that sort are part of preparing your home for sale. Staging is more about aesthetics, design, organization, and overall appearance to make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
When you are getting ready to tackle staging, you need to think like a buyer. Don’t look at your house as the place that you carefully decorated and designed to your tastes. Look at it as dispassionately as possible and imagine what you would want as a buyer. It might help to think back to some of the homes you saw when you were house hunting – that stainless steel bar in the family room made no sense to you, but the previous owner might have loved it.
Start with the outside
Start by making sure the yard, walkway, driveway and front of your home are perfectly clean. Scrub, sweep, and rake so there are no traces of dead leaves, dirt or grime anywhere. Lay new mulch, replant any empty planters and keep anything growing neatly trimmed. Make sure there are no cobwebs in the corners (don’t forget the garage!) and if you’ve got a porch, put out a chair or bench.
Enter with caution
Make sure your entryway is clutter free, clean and ready to receive. Clean the closet and leave room for coats, and ensure there is plenty of light in the entry. Find a different spot for your mail and keys to rest for now. Replace the welcome mat if yours is worn. Give your entry some extra attention, it’s the first room potential buyers will see.
Living it up
The living room should be warm and inviting, with good lighting and some scented natural candles. Rearrange your furniture to make conversation groupings and remove or reduce the number of family portraits (they say “you’re not home” to buyers). If the room is crowded or cluttered, get rid of stuff. Streamline your mantel décor and clear your bookshelves of all clutter and take the time to arrange them nicely.
Cooking up a sale
Just like the rest of the house, clean and declutter your kitchen, removing any extra items and carefully arranging the contents of all cabinets, drawers and even the refrigerator. Hide countertop appliances, put utensils away and keep the counters as clear as possible. Make sure your lighting is bright and cheery and every surface is sparkling clean. Consider small upgrades like cabinet door pulls, or even painting cabinetry. If you have your home office or craft table in the eat-in kitchen, remove it and restore the space to a dining area.
Take a bath
The bathroom should perhaps be the cleanest room in your home. Update anything that needs updating and make sure any shiny surface shines like new. Make sure your lighting is attractive and flattering (invest in good quality CFL or LED bulbs) and put out your best, nicest looking, plushest towels.
Your bedroom should be soothing and restful. Get rid of excess furniture and clutter and rearrange the room to make it feel as large as possible. Take your closet down to the bare minimum and organize the contents. Put on your best bedding and take down personal photos. You want the room to be neutral, comfortable, and spacious.
Declutter – it can’t be said enough. Clean out and declutter everything, closets, storage spaces, cabinets, drawers, attics, basements, surfaces; your home should be a clutter-free zone.
Clean – then clean again. Everything should be as clean as possible. Clean the walls behind your furniture. Dust every nook and cranny. Have carpets, upholstery and drapes cleaned, and pay special attention to any blinds. Any shiny surface should be mirror smooth and sparkly.
Repaint – if you have strong or dark colors anywhere, consider repainting in a warm, neutral shade that is more attractive to buyers.
Look – walk every space in your home and pretend it’s new to you, invite a friend to help. Look at every space with a hypercritical eye and pay attention to how the room looks and feels, then fix any problems that you can. Consider removing distracting elements, and rearrange the rest to make your space inviting.
Little fixes – little things matter. Ensure no doors squeak or stick, and they stay open or shut when needed. No taps should drip, and all outlet covers should be clean and free of cracks and chips. Door handles should turn smoothly and not stick. You know the bathroom door sticks and needs a gentle kick to open, but a potential buyer doesn’t, and won’t like it.
Appliances – even if you are not leaving them with the house, they should be sparkling clean, and in the case of refrigerators and freezers, their contents should be neat as well.
Air it out – let in fresh air and then light some scented candles, or bake fresh bread or cookies.
Light it up – make sure there is plenty of natural and artificial light, it helps your home look spacious and clean.
Arrange it – put out fresh flowers. It doesn’t have to be a big arrangement, just a few flowers in a pretty container in each room is a welcoming touch.