As someone who has been in the business for going on 15 years now, I have often been asked about my best tips for staging a home for sale. Buyers have become accustomed to seeing well-put together homes these days.
In some markets, a home that hasn’t been staged is basically considered a drive-by. (Meaning: buyers won’t bother to stop in for a viewing.) If you’re planning on selling your home and don’t want to invest in hiring a home stager, you can follow these 5 tips and reap the benefits for no or low cost. Remember, home staging can make you more money and get you a faster sale!
5 Best Tips for Staging a Home for Sale
Here are my best tips for making the most important improvements when prepping your home for sale. These can be done quickly and without spending much money, if any.
Edit your furniture and other items in your home that may be viewed as excess. Do a serious Marie Kondo de-clutter if you have time.
If you have an awkward furniture layout due to needing to fit a favorite chair into the room, for example, this is the time to move things around and place items in storage so your home feels more spacious.
You can also thin out cabinets and closets so that they feel spacious and not cramped. Put things in storage. You’re moving soon anyway, so at this stage you can go ahead and start packing things that you won’t need during the time your home is listed. Depending on the season, this could mean winter coats and boots, etc. can all be moved out of closets and into your storage area.
It’s important to thin things out because you want your home to feel like there is adequate space, or ideally, more than enough space. When you’ve lived somewhere for more than a few years, you tend to accumulate stuff. You might want to have a garage sale or donate items that you find you just don’t need anymore.
Buyers will look in closets and possibly in cabinets. So make them all look as neat as possible and avoid, avoid, avoid (!) having areas that look stuffed.
Even if you keep your house pretty clean at all times, when it comes to staging we need a super thorough deep cleaning. We need carpets cleaned, light fixtures and ceiling fans dusted and cleaned, blinds, windows, grout, baseboards, everything.
Depending on your situation and whether you enjoy cleaning or not, this is a task you can either take on yourself or you can hire out. It’s pretty reasonable to have people do it and personally that would be my preference because I don’t enjoy that very detailed level of cleaning. And when I say “don’t enjoy” I mean “HATE” so yeah… We need your home to feel fresh and sparkly and spotless.
It will make a huge difference in the way buyers look at your home. Not only is it aesthetically nicer when everything is bright and fresh and shiny, it also sends the message that other things are taken care of.
If a buyer sees a home that looks reasonably clean at first glance and then spots dust bunny world peeking out from under the refrigerator, it gives the impression that some things have possibly been let go in terms of upkeep.
Now, I’m not saying it’s awful to have a few dust bunnies, but with home staging we are often talking about subtle and small details adding up to an overall impression.
Also, carpet. I can’t say enough about how off-putting it can be to tour a home with a dingy carpet. Unless your carpet is pretty new and you are sure it is still perfectly clean, rent a carpet machine or hire a service. The machines are pretty inexpensive to rent and many grocery stores have them available. This is especially important if you have pets.
This is the time to remove your family photos along with all personalized signs and banners that you may have outside or inside the home. If your door mat says “The Johnsons” you are not exactly inviting buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.
Personalizations put up barriers to achieving what we want, which is for buyers to connect with your home, imagine a good life there, and start feeling psychologically attached so that they make you a good strong offer.
In addition, you need to remove your children’s initials or names that may be up on their bedroom walls. Not only is this a psychological barrier for buyers, it’s also a safety issue.
Think about it: the internet, your son’s or daughter’s name being readily available, other details that may be visible in their rooms such as being into baseball or soccer… these things can pose a safety risk. Many parents are so diligent about protecting their children online but when it comes time to sell the house they overlook the photos that will be accessible to anyone.
You will also need to remove any of your artwork, decor, or other accessories that are a bit too taste-specific for staging. I’m talking hot pink leopard bedding, giant cat-shaped lamps, collection of dog playing poker decor, you name it. Anything that doesn’t look like it could be in an IKEA or Pottery Barn catalog. I name those two because they are two brands with extremely broad appeal.
This stage can be sad but it really is just an early step in your moving process. It will assist with allowing buyers to mentally move in to your home.
When you have the possessions thinned out a bit because of the editing and depersonalizing, you can see if there are any areas that need to be touched up.
You can paint if there are areas that really need it. If you’ve noticed a crooked switch plate, try to fix it. Little things. You never know what little things might become apparent when you start going over your home’s finer details. Just see if anything jumps out at you and assess whether it’s worth taking care of at this point. If you have a Realtor lined up this is a good question to ask them.
Here’s another example. I had a house I was getting ready to sell and I realized that the hardware for the vintage French doors we installed was missing. Something we had gotten used to and forgot about completely since the doors were propped open most of the time anyway.
Make it Pop
Some say the best staging is all about having a neutral palette without any bold colors, because people might not like the color, etc. and you want to keep it calm and very tame, visually. But I can tell you that I have studied color psychology extensively and I strongly disagree.
There is nothing more boring to the human eye than room after room of neutrals with no personality. The worst is the gray on gray on white on gray color schemes. Boring, cold, and lifeless. Speaking of lifeless, those color schemes should die.
Please. By all means, use light, warm neutrals but mix some life into the decor via a little bit of a floral print on a pillow, a bright, fun rug in a bathroom, a vase of bright yellow flowers, trust me, our eyes LOVE pops of color.
Pops of color create focal points.
If you have a pretty mantel that buyers will love, use color to direct the eye right there where you want it. This could be done via artwork placement or through accessories and decorative objects. A beige couch with beige pillows will look a lot more interesting if there’s a pretty light aqua throw nicely draped, rather than (please don’t do it…) a BEIGE one. Or a gray one. Yuck.
Yes, staging is about appealing to a wide range of buyers.
Buyers are humans.
Humans like color.
Just use it wisely for home staging. (I like this book.)
This stage is when you can think about things like an updated door mat, a bowl of oranges, flowers, setting a pretty dining room table, setting out a cookbook, and all of those other little staging touches that give your home that extra little dazzle.
I hope my 5 best tips for staging a home for sale have helped you on your way to a sale for more money.