It’s no secret that professionally staging your home before listing will not only look better in photos, and to potential buyers, but you’ll also sell your home for more. You read that right – staged homes often sell for 2-3 times the amount invested in the staging itself. It’s not always viable to fully stage a lived-in home, and sometimes completely out of the question or budget in some cases with families with young children or active pets. That being said, it’s still a good idea to put the staging basics to good use and do as much as possible to appeal to the broadest group of buyers. If you fit into the category of not being a staging candidate, read on for tips on what you can do to improve the experience and sale price when selling your home.
1. Clean – this may seem incredibly obvious, but it takes a bit more than just dusting and vacuuming; it means eliminating odors (pet, food, etc.) even if that means having your carpets professionally cleaned, not leaving dishes in the sink, or water marks in the shower. A potential buyer will be distracted by these things instantly and although they may seem small, it causes a subconscious negative opinion. Adding a plug-in air freshener can help after all is clean to give a soothing first impression. I like to stick to simple scents such as citrus, vanilla, or lavender.
2. Declutter – nothing screams “distraction” and “there’s not enough space in here” like unnecessary clutter. Most people who are house hunting are looking to solve their own issues of not enough storage or space for their stuff, so it’ll be an instant turn-off if there’s too much visible stuff. One easy way to solve the clutter issue is to actually start getting rid of some. You’ll thank me later when it’s time to pack and there are no more junk areas to sort through. Another way to conceal what’s left is with lidded baskets, decorative boxes, etc. But keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you should shove everything into drawers, cabinets, or closets – serious buyers go through all that too and when they see an over flow of your stuff, they’ll continue to think that their stuff won’t fit either.
3. Decorate – ever walk into a hotel room and just feel right at home? This is the feeling you’re going for when you get your home ready to list. Large hotels do an excellent job of appealing to anyone that comes through the door by keeping décor neutral, not personal or controversial, and look very clean and inviting. You can achieve the same look by swapping out a couple of your colorful pillows for a simple, neutral color, swapping out family photos for framed art, and adding that inviting tray with flowers, a couple candles, and a bottle of wine to make any buyer feel instantly comfortable.
4. Furniture placement – if you think your space feels small, literally just remove some stuff. You don’t need to show the room with the giant armoire you inherited, or the extra-large recliner your husband can’t live without. Having oversized or too many pieces in a room will make it feel smaller, and again make buyers believe their furniture won’t fit either. I also like suggesting removing excessive décor such as too many plants, wall sconces, trinkets, or frames – when in doubt, just tuck them away. It’s better for a space to feel a bit emptier than too full – it rids buyers of too many visual distractions as well. Storing excess pieces is the garage is not a huge turn off to buyers either.
5. Light it up – turn on ALL the lights in your home for every single showing. All table lamps, floor lamps, etc. Open all drapes and shades to allow as much natural light in as possible, and even remove drapes entirely if they seem too busy and heavy and you’re able to easily patch the holes from the curtain rods. If your space still doesn’t feel bright enough, try swapping out your light bulbs for 60W daylight rather than “soft white” which is likely what’s in your home now since it’s a more livable, warm tone.
6. Update – if you can fit it into your schedule and budget, a fresh coat of paint and some minor updates can go a very long way. The first thing I do in every home is updating the light fixtures and the cabinet hardware. If you can’t do it all, just don’t match new fixtures to old finishes in the home or it becomes a major waste of money. New doesn’t automatically mean updated.