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How to Stage Your Home For Sale

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My wife and I recently put our home up for sale because we need a larger home and we want to move closer to family. The real estate market where we live is still in the recovery stages and if you want to sell a home in our market, you need to go above and beyond. That’s where staging comes into play. Staging is setting up your home to give it the best possible appearance for potential buyers. That means decluttering, highlighting the nice features and finding a way to minimize any features that might not appeal to potential buyers.

A prime example of minimizing unattractive features is finding a way to make our home look like it doesn’t have a toddler living in it. Many potential buyers don’t have or want children, so we need to be very careful how we stage our home. We painted our daughter’s room a neutral color and can quickly put all her toys and other baby items in boxes and hide them in the basement or closet when we need to show the home. We can’t put the crib away, but we can present the room as nicely as possible for all potential buyers.

Tips for staging your home

Staging your home can take a little creativity because you still need to live in it. The example I gave of our daughter’s room is one way we make this work. We also got rid of several van loads of clutter by either placing it in temporary storage or donating it to Goodwill (we can’t have yard sales in our neighborhood, so we donated everything). The result is less “stuff” and a cleaner home.

We also repainted the entire interior, giving everything a fresh, clean look. The result is a clean house that looks large and inviting, and takes less time to clean. We are keeping our home clean on a daily basis and can have the house show ready in less than an hour, which is pretty quick when you have a toddler living at home!

Here are some more tips for staging your home:

Curb Appeal

The first impression a potential buyer has of your home is the outside. When someone drives by your home or pulls into the driveway, you want them to immediately like the appearance and want to view the inside. Here are some tips for staging your home’s exterior:

  • If the paint is chipped or faded, repaint the house, shutters, doors and window trim with neutral colors
  • Keep lawn mowed, leaves raked, and weeds pulled while the home is on the market
  • Use mulch around flower beds
  • Place potted plants around the front door or along walkway for a quick appearance boost
  • Clean windows inside and out, glass and frames
  • Consider renting a power washer and doing the driveway, sidewalks or entry paths, house siding, and anything else that looks a little dirty

Entryway

Once the buyer has stepped inside your home, they’ll have a first impression regarding the interior of the home. Your entry-way is where you need to make this first impression.

  • Remove all clutter to make the space look as open and large as possible
  • Make sure the area is well lit
  • Clean meticulously
  • Replace or purchase a new welcome mat that is inviting

Kitchen

It’s been said that kitchens sell homes – and they do! Here are some tips for staging your kitchen to get the best sale:

  • Declutter! Remove anything from counter tops that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. We have a fruit bowl with apples (they stay fresh longer than bananas or other fruits).
  • Clean the kitchen carefully, including floor baseboards, corners, appliances, counter tops, cabinet doors, etc
  • Consider upgrading counter tops or cabinets, restain or paint cabinets if you can’t afford to replace
  • Paint the walls a neutral color
  • Set up a small table if your kitchen is designed as an eat-in kitchen but you haven’t been using it that way

Living Area

People spend a lot of time in the living or family room areas of a home, particularly if they have children. Keep in mind that when a potential buyer looks at the living area, they’re envisioning themselves there with their family as well as where they will entertain guests.

  • Remove most personal items like family portraits and knickknacks
  • Try moving the furniture around until you find a conversational arrangement that seems open and large – you may want to remove some of the furniture to make the space appear larger and less cluttered
  • If your furniture is worn and outdated, consider renting furniture for house showings, or using slipcovers
  • Make sure the paint color is neutral and use pillows and other objects as accent colors in the room for a professional put together appearance

Bathrooms

Bathrooms can also sell a house. You want to make your bathroom clean, bright, and inviting. Here are some tips to make the room shine:

  • Clean, clean, clean!
  • Clean some more!
  • Declutter – only leave essential items on the counters
  • Buy new towels and bathmats for display
  • Place some decorative candles
  • Organize your drawers and under the counter space (we bought tupperware to help organize the drawer space, and still maintain our privacy when people look through the drawers).

To go personal or not to go personal?

Most TV shows and magazines recommend removing all personal items when you show your home, including family portraits, knick knacks, souvenirs, children’s paintings on the fridge, etc. My real estate agent, however, disagrees with that advice and recommends leaving a few small personal items out to remind potential buyers that a family does indeed live there. My wife and I followed our agent’s advice and left out a couple wedding and baby pictures, but put away the rest of our personal items. The result is a clean house, with a small personal touch. And I think that works. The most important thing to remember when staging your home is to make it as clean and inviting as possible.


Published or updated August 9, 2010.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Evan

The Wife and I are kind of looking, and I am shocked when I see the pictures of some of these homes! Dirty and Messy and with wires and stuff hanging. They should read this post!

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2 Ryan

Those are the houses you want to make a low ball bid on! :)

Seriously, if you can look past the dirt, you may be able to find a good bargain, especially if the home has been on the market awhile. Just make sure to have an inspection done to make sure there are no underlying problems. If you are selling, however, you want the house to be as move in ready as possible to help it sell more quickly and for top dollar.

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3 Dan

I think I disagree with your agent on the family portrait issue – I side with the conventional wisdom. The last time my wife and I went home shopping, I found family pictures to be distracting – it made the house seem like it belonged to someone else as opposed to being up for sale. Just my opinion.

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