Thinking of selling your own home? Did you know that if you stage it right, it will likely sell for more money and much faster than if you left it as is? According to a comprehensive study conducted by Home Staging Resource, 85 percent of staged homes sell for 6-25 percent more than unstaged homes.
When you sell your home, the key is to look at it as you would if you were a buyer who has never seen your home before. When they walk into your home for the first time, what impression will they have? Does your home reflect your unique personality? That’s a trick question. Your home is yours and what you do with it while you live there is your business. But, if you’re trying to sell it to someone else, your personality is not what they want to see (sorry).
Instead, they need to see a neutral palette that enables them to envision their own belongings in your home. Even better, they need to see the potential your home holds as if it fell off the pages of an interior design magazine. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a few extra dollars on staging could result in a nice return on that investment.
There are staging experts out there you can hire to do it for you, but by following a few tips we’ve outlined below, you can do much, if not all, of it on your own. Don’t be afraid to look at resources, such as magazines, houzz.com, and other online sites for inspiration.
Get Down and Dirty
Nothing shows how well a house has been cared for more than its cleanliness. Running the vacuum is great before a showing, but when staging your home, it’s time for the deep cleaning. Your visitors may open every drawer and every closet in your home. They will be looking at your light fixtures, your baseboards and everywhere in between.
Start with one room at a time, begin at the top of the room and work your way down. Get out the step ladder and see what’s been hiding on the tops of your cabinets, furniture and light fixtures. Have any drapes dry cleaned. Use that upholstery attachment to vacuum your sofas and chairs, move furniture and vacuum there, too. Wipe down plant leaves, window sills, baseboards and hard surfaces, including stair rails and cabinet and drawer fronts. Speaking of windows, hire a professional to clean them inside and out. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
Clean out your fireplace(s), your drawers, cabinets and refrigerator. Make your oven, microwave and kitchen sink sparkle. Your bathrooms should look as though they have never been used, because who wants to imagine they have been? Make them shine.
As important as a clean home is in the selling process, a bright, light home is a close second. There’s a reason it was among the first things God created. Light makes everything look better. Clean those windows, open or remove the shades, turn on the lights.
If your home doesn’t have a lot of natural light, time to make your own. Floor lamps in corners of the room, extra lamps on tabletops, and brighter light bulbs in can lights and lamps will do wonders. Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with soft white LED bulbs. They are not only brighter, but they have a more modern glow (less yellow) that younger buyers prefer.
Painting darker walls a shade of white will instantly reflect more light. Keep in mind your buyers need to be able to envision their belongings in your rooms. The more neutral the colors, the easier time they’ll have.
Less Is More
When staging, decluttering is more than removing mail from your kitchen counters and picture frames from the coffee table. Staging means you’re literally setting the stage. You are placing only the key pieces of furniture and items that define that room. Nothing more. Nothing less.
For instance, ask yourself when standing in your living room, what it is that makes your living room a living room? Obviously, you need some seating. Perhaps a coffee table and a side table or two. Do you really need that chest of drawers? Do you need plants, books, photos or candles on every surface? When selling your own home, no. Keep it simple.
Your rooms will look larger and more inviting if they are sparse, yet comfortable. Again, look at a recent interior decor magazine or think of a beautiful hotel you have seen. It’s just what you need and nothing more. Place those extra items in storage, sell them or donate them.
Not all furniture belongs in a room and it may have nothing to do with “less is more.” Some furniture is simply too large for a small room, thereby making the room appear smaller than it actually is. Some furniture is arranged the wrong way, again, shrinking the room.
Pull out those interior design magazines and find a photo of a room whose shape and features are similar to yours, such as a fireplace in the center of a wall. Look at how the room is arranged and the size of the furniture in relation to the height of the ceilings and the dimensions of the room. Create pleasant seating vignettes, where, if every seat were filled, everyone would be able to see and hear each other.
If in doubt, consult with an interior designer. They have a degree in spatial awareness and will help you decide which pieces of furniture to keep, which to replace and which to toss. They will also help you arrange your furniture in an optimal way to make your room appear larger and have a good flow.
Highlight the Positives
What is it about your home you love the most? If you love it, many others will, too. Play up the positives. If you have a great backyard, focus on that. Be sure your outdoor space looks inviting. Invest in new outdoor furniture, if needed. Add hanging accent lighting. Plant flowers. You get the idea.
If, on the other hand, your backyard is an overgrown mess without much of anything special about it, do what you can to clean it up but focus on the interior. Maybe you have a fantastic kitchen, a beautiful fireplace hearth, a cozy breakfast nook or a perfect home office space. Draw attention to those areas by making them look their best and perhaps, adding some final touches (see below) to get the buyers’ attention.
Even though you’ve walked through every room of your home a million times and you’ve shown your home to dozens of potential buyers, every time a new buyer comes to your home for a showing, it’s their first time.
Even if your rooms aren’t magazine-ready, simply by adding fresh flowers to the rooms you want to highlight, you’ll be amazed at their impact. Light a candle, open windows if the weather is nice, bake cookies, set the breakfast room table, fill a bowl with fresh lemons and limes, even start a puzzle on a game room table. All of these little efforts show the potential buyer that this home was loved, cared for, and the perfect next home for their family.
Selling your own home isn’t hard, but it does take intentional planning to help it sell quickly for the most money. Follow our steps above and watch the offers come in.
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