Proper Staging is Money in Your Pocket
Staging Tips -- Making Your Home Look Its Best
There is a very important difference between decorating and staging. Homes are decorated to satisfy a particular taste. Homes are staged to appeal to a large variety of buyers.
Outside -- Curb Appeal
Any Realtor will tell you that buyers routinely remove properties from their list of possible homes to buy based solely on lack of curb appeal. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to cost effectively improve the average home's curb appeal. Ask your family, friends, neighbors and Realtors to tell you what they would do to improve the curb appeal of your home. You need to try to see your home through the eyes of potential buyers.
- Bushes and trees need to add to the appearance of your home, not block it from view. Bushes that block windows and walkways are too big. Trim them! Consider trimming tree limbs that block the view of you home from the street or driveway. Always trim tree limbs that touch the house. A tree or bush that is unattractive because it is freshly trimmed is better than one that is overgrown and unruly.
- Walk around the house and move all the stuff that isn't growing -- old lawn furniture, ugly swing sets, garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, fallen tree limbs, leaf piles, etc. -- out of sight, if possible.
- Check soffits, fascia boards and gutters for mildew stains, roof moss and rot. Make sure gutters are cleaned. You don't want the buyer to be turned off by cosmetic things or a home inspector to identify a long list of problems that you can correct at minimal cost. Make all necessary repairs.
- Weed and mulch all planting areas. Keep the lawn freshly cut and fertilized. Remove dead plants and shrubs.
- Clear patios and decks of unnecessary items. Limit small planters and flower pots. Remove charcoal bags, extra propane tanks, non-working grills and barbecues, extraneous furniture, toys, and stuff that make decks and patios look smaller and generally unattractive. Power wash concrete, brick and wood surfaces to make them look clean and new.
- Check the paint condition of the house and paint anything that could be improved with a fresh coat of paint. Fresh paint sells. Be sure to choose colors that have a broad appeal. The front door and entrance, in particular, needs to look inviting.
- Have a local roofer or home inspector give you an estimate of what it will take to get your roof into top shape. Missing shingles and bad flashing need to be replaced.
- Before you leave extra vehicles and trailers parked on the property somewhere, consider what your potential buyers will think when they see them.
- Consider adding fresh, potted flowers near the entry to make it appear more inviting.
The outside of your home isn't as important as the inside to most buyers, but the outside has to be acceptable or the buyer will never see the inside, no matter how wonderful it is. If the outside is spectacular, buyers may be willing to overlook some the interior flaws.
Inside -- Model Home Appeal
Two of the most common mistakes that home sellers make are problems of perspective. First, sellers decorate based on their own, very personal, taste and don't accept the fact that many buyers are going to be turned off by their choices. Second, sellers think they are being smart when the decide not to repair and update their homes. The truth is that repairs and updates almost always pay significant dividends. Buyers that pay top dollar for homes buy homes that are in top shape and up-to-date.
- Clutter, clutter, clutter. Remove the clutter. When you are selling your home, it is not the time to have extra anything in the open or stuffed in pantries and closets. Extra full drawers, cabinets and closets imply that there isn't enough storage.
- Make sure your home is filled with pleasant smells and is well lighted. Open blinds and drapes. Pleasant smells and sunlight lifts the human spirit and a buyer's mood. Consider using the highest allowed wattage light bulbs in fixtures to increase the light in your rooms. Leave lights on in dark rooms and hallways during the day. The Realtor showing your home will turn on all lights and lamps, so make sure all bulbs work.
- De-personalize your home. Personal pictures and family keepsakes tend to distract buyers and make it harder for them to see themselves in your home. Unless your home is very upscale, excessively expensive art and antiques should be moved to the homes of family or friends. Provocative art should be put in storage. Attractive mirrors are a good replacement for extra-large personal paintings. Mirrors make a room feel larger.
- Furniture that is too big or too much for the room, makes the room look too small. Change it. Remove unnecessary pieces. Consider replacing the too-large couch with a loveseat. Put the extra china cabinet in storage. Consider replacing king and queen beds in small bedrooms with double or twin size beds. Box up some of those books and remove the extra bookshelf.
- Clear all unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house. Remove the trophies, sport equipment, keepsakes, knick knacks, magazines and books unless they had value to your showings. Keep decorative objects on the furniture restricted to groups of 1, 3, or 5 items.
- In the kitchen, remove all but absolutely necessary objects from countertops. Countertops with lots of stuff look cluttered and small, and make buyers think there is not enough storage for the stuff that is on the counter. Clear refrigerator fronts of messages, pictures, etc. A clean look helps the buyer visualize themselves using your kitchen. Make sure the kitchen is extra, extra clean.
- In the bathroom, remove unnecessary items from countertops, tubs, shower stalls and commode tops. Four shampoo bottles, three body washes and hair-filled brushes are not necessary. Coordinate towels to one or two colors. Make sure the bathroom is extra, extra clean.
- Make your closets look bigger. Clear closets of all but necessary clothes. Limit the stuff on closet shelves so there appears to be lots of extra storage. Put most games, books, filing cabinets, safes, out-of-season clothes and shoes in storage.
- In order to make hallways feel large, limit plants, paintings, pictures and furniture in hallways. Adding a mirror to a hallway wall near an entry door helps to make the hallway feel larger.
- Cracks in walls and ceilings must be patched and painted. When buyers see cracks, many of them fear that the home has structural problems. Paint that is soiled or peeling needs to be cleaned or removed, and re-painted.
- Bold colors are okay for accent walls, but bold colors should generally be replaced with soft, neutral colors. You may love your dark purple room, but buyers will be distracted by it and less likely to make an offer. Paint is generally more sellable than wallpaper. Wallpaper borders are not generally a positive.
- Scratched and stained wood flooring should be refinished, or at least cleaned and buffed.
- Clean the carpets, drapes and windows. At least remove obvious stains and offer to have the carpets cleaned before the closing date.
- If you need room to store extra possessions use the garage or rent a storage unit. Spending a couple hundred dollars for a storage unit is better than accepting an offer for a couple thousand less because your home doesn't show well.
- Put the smokers and the pets outside. Even smokers don't want to buy a home that is stained by smoke or smells of smoke. Even animal lovers don't want to buy a home with animal hair and animal smells everywhere. Lots of buyers are allergic to animal hair. A cat urine smell is likely to cost a seller many, many thousands of dollars.
- If your are moving out before you sell, consider leaving a few attractive chairs and tables behind to help potential buyers get a better sense of room size until the home sells. Consider renting some furniture to make your home look functional, cozy and inviting. Visit some local model homes for ideas.