How To Stage Your Home So It Sells!
Whatever it takes!
Within a week, and usually for not much money, you can "stage" your home so that it will sell for the highest price in as short a time as possible. Generally, items that should be addressed are minor, such as rearranging furniture, packing up personal items, or being sure to put the toothpaste away every morning. Buyers only know what they see, not the way it's going to be. By hiding the shaving cream, stashing the coffee pot and packing up those family portraits, you're giving prospective buyers some breathing space and a chance to visualize their own coffee pot on your kitchen table. You should use every little thing you can to make your home stand out. Here's how:
Many buyers will walk out of a dirty house without even considering what's beneath the dirt because they feel so uncomfortable. Professional steam cleaning for carpets and draperies is usually well worth the expense. But there are a lot of cleaning jobs you can do yourself. Clean the top of the refrigerator, scour the stove, scrape the Barney stickers and photos and recipes off the refrigerator. The kitchen and master bath are also extremely important. Polish the faucets (paste wax works wonders), wipe down the sinks, bleach the stained grout. And don't forget the windows. Clean windows can make a house seem at least 20 percent brighter.
Look at your walls. Is your teenager's bedroom filled with posters? Potential buyers may only see holes to be filled and walls to be painted. Collections of family photos on the living room walls, decorative items on the bathroom walls, and certificates on the home office walls can also turn off potential buyers. So get an early start on packing and box up those family treasures.
Speaking of walls, does each room in your home have a different color scheme? Simply painting your walls off-white can make your home appear more spacious. It also allows buyers to more easily visualize their belongings in your home.
Start packing now.
When you get ready to move, you'll need to pack anyway, so why not now? Pack up extra books, out-of-season clothing, and sporting equipment and stack the boxes in the far side of the garage or in a rented storage facility. The object is to clear away all unnecessary objects, especially those on coffee tables, dressers, kitchen counters, and night stands. Shove the books and magazines under the bed - buyers don't tend to look there!
Create more space.
If you have a small dining room, remove the extra leaves in the dining room table and store them in a closet (or under the bed!). Also consider moving extra dining room chairs to storage. On the other hand, if your dining room is huge, leave in the leaves to show buyers how nicely a large table fits in the room. If you have a hutch or buffet in the dining room, clear out the excess items and pack them away.
When it comes to the kitchen, ask yourself "what can I live without?" You will probably be too busy to bake homemade bread or fix gourmet meals for a while, so stash the food processor and mixer in a cabinet. Try to show the maximum amount of counter space to make the kitchen appear as large as possible.
Be brutal with bathrooms and kitchens! Put away all but the most-needed cosmetics, brushes, perfumes, etc. Keep necessary items on the counter in a small group, perhaps in a basket or on a tray. Consider re-grouting tiles that have moldy or cracked grout. Also, put away small garbage cans or hide them behind the toilet. And keep the toilet lid down!
Needless to say, dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter, and jelly on the toaster don't cut it. But keeping the kitchen clean - consistently - is one of the toughest challenges in staging your home. You have to keep the kitchen clean every single day your home is on the market because you never know when the right agent with the right buyers will walk through the door.
Stash scouring pads and dish drainers under the sink. Clear away messages, photos, take-out menus, cartoons and school papers that have accumulated on the refrigerator. If you like to display drawings your child did in school, pick just the one favorite drawing to display on the refrigerator. And stick with just one or two (healthy!) plants on the window ledge.
Follow your nose.
Of course, pet, cigarette and cooking smells can send potential buyers scurrying off to the next home on their list before they even get past your living room. An "aroma" that is unnoticeable to a homeowner may be offensive to a potential buyer who may not smoke or own pets.
Keeping litter boxes clean is an obvious way to cut odors. Also, try increasing ventilation by opening windows on opposite sides of the house. In some cases, the carpet and drapes may need to be steam cleaned. Also, pet stores carry products to eliminate odors and they really work. To add a pleasant odor, set out small baskets of potpourri, especially in bathrooms and consider vanilla scented candles.
Spruce up the fireplace.
Clean out dirty ashes and close the screen. If the screen is old and rusted, spray paint it with heat-resistant paint. (My painter has used black, heat-resistant engine paint, available from the local auto parts store. It worked like a charm and it doesn't blister or peel.) To remove soot on the outside of the fireplace, use soot remover or oven cleaner. In the winter, plan to light a fire just before an open house. In the summer, put a plant in front of the cleaned-out fireplace to add some greenery to the room.
Don't forget the outside.
Curb appeal - it's what gets the lookie-loos to stop and check out your home in the first place. Walk across the street and take an objective look at your home. Does the front door need painting? Is there a pile of old wood stacked up against the side of the house? Is the porch crowded with dead or dying potted plants? Be brutally honest. If the front door or porch or front of the house look old and ratty, buyers assume the inside looks bad as well. Also, make sure the doorbell works. If it's broken, buyers will assume you've let other things go too.
Plant overgrowth keeps potential buyers from really seeing the outside of your home. You can't sell it if you can't see it. Overgrown shrubbery can also make the rooms inside appear dark. Also, too much plant growth can make the house appear smaller. So trim the trees, buzz the hedges, and let the sun shine in! Weed and bark all planting areas and groom and fertilze the lawn. (You may even wish to hire a lawn service) Then make a commitment to weekly lawn mowing and maintenance.
Clean the garage.
While your garage can be a great place for extra boxes and furniture, make sure you're not parking your car on the street because you can't fit it in the garage. It may be a two-car garage, but people need to see that it's a two-car garage.
Don't forget your pets.
Be cautious about having pets around during showings. Consider posting a note on the front door or near the lockbox explaining where the dog is located within the house. It's best if your dog is outside if you're not home or confine your pet to a specific area of the house with child safety gates. And one more thing: Don't forget to clean up after your dog every day. You don't want any surprises when people walk around the back yard!
Show your home in its best light.
When your house is being shown, turn on lights, even in the daytime. Also remember to replace burned-out light bulbs. Light makes things look well maintained. Leave all curtains, drapes and blinds open. And keep a stereo tuned to soft FM music, not hard rock or "funeral music"
Is it worth it?
When you stop and think that staging your home can help you get the most equity from your home in the shortest amount of time, the temporary inconvenience is a small price to pay!