Before your eyes turn into dollar signs, keep in mind staging isn’t guaranteed to get you more money. But it’s an important marketing tool to help you compete at the right price, which means you can sell faster. (A study from the Real Estate Staging Association bears this out.)
Helping buyers fall in love with your property takes more than running the vacuum and fluffing the pillows: It’s all about decluttering, repairing, updating, and depersonalizing, say real estate agents and stagers.
Here are a few ideas...
Embr Image: Fluff Designs
When placing anything from accent pillows and table lamps, go for symmetry, which is pleasing to the eye.
Light it up with lamps. Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor.
Make that fireplace glow. Scrub away soot stains and replace the old screen.
If you’re using staging furniture or buying slip covers, choose light colors for an airy, inviting feel.
Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to make the room feel spacious.
Use bright, coordinated accessories like accent pillows and throw blankets for a chic splash of color.
Help buyers imagine their life in your home. Set the scene by displaying a board game or tea service on the coffee table, and arrange furniture in conversational groups.
Let a slideshow of beautiful images play on your television like a screensaver.
Ima Image: Wendy F. Johnson Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer
Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.
Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum.
Freshen up and modernize those cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware.
Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Give it the old college try or consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly recommends stainless steel. Tip: You can get the look of stainless for the cost of a cheap dinner with stainless films.
Remove those fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning.
Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.
Have a dark corner or hallway? Brighten it up with a decorative mirror.
Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white or beige.
Paint adjacent rooms the same color to make the whole space feel larger.
Fill nicks and holes in walls, and touch up with paint.
Sorry, wood paneling. It’s time. Paint over paneling with a neutral color. To really cover your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing.
Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new.
Wash the windows, inside and out. Repair any holes or tears in screens.
Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls.
Throughout the House
Imag Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic
Declutter! Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them (neatly!) in the garage or — better yet — a rented storage unit.
Don’t forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork should all go.
Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
Transform underused areas of the house — the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway — into functional spots. Add a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook.
Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs.
Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty — or dingy — hardware.
Damaged or aging hardwood floors? Replace damaged boards with new wood, sand down the entire floor, and re-stain.
Do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom — including carpets — before viewings.
Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so long as it complements the trim and doesn’t blend, says The Real Estate Staging Association. Steer clear of unconventional colors like purple.
Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers.
Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch until everything sparkles.
Make sure the locks and doorbell function.
Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one.
Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds.
Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door.
Whip that yard into shape with fresh sod or new seed
Store yard equipment and children’s toys out of sight.
Repair shaky banisters.
Get a hammock (or bocce ball game or raised fire pit) to show off how fun your yard can be.
Dress up any imperfect planting area with mulch.
Make sure entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects.
Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses.
Don’t forget your outdoor living space. Stage your patio like a second living room, with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor.
For Pet Owners
Ima Image: Ellen Mertens
Scrub those pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors.
Pet odors soak into your best friend’s favorite things. Completely remove pet beds (or Fido’s most-loved couch), blankets, toys, play structures, food bowls, and the like.
Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply mask them. There’s nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine with kitty litter undertones.
Repair or remove any furniture that’s been scratched or gnawed on.
Clean all pet “presents” from the yard.
Keep cat boxes immaculate and hidden away, or — better yet — see how your feline-loving friends feel about a temporary houseguest and remove litter boxes altogether.
Remove any dog or cat doors. Pets? What pets?
When you leave the house for a viewing, take all the furry (or feathery or scaly) residents along with you.
Make a pet hair sweep the last thing you do before you leave the house.
Day of Showing
Image: Image: Oliveshadow/Shutterstock
Add a seasonal touch. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the fall and set out fresh cut lilacs in the spring.
Tidy like you’ve never tidied before.
Avoid cooking any food for your own meals, but do bake some cookies or other baked goods to leave a welcoming aroma behind.
Take off. After all that staging work, you deserve a trip to the spa while potential home buyers are busy falling in love with your house.
Carol Pendergrass - Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage Realty