1. Evaluate! Walk through the house like a prospective buyer would. As you go, make a list of features that are the home’s positive selling points. Most homes have at least one or two traits that would be considered positive features. Next, consider what might be looked at negatively. Negatives aren’t always an actual part of the structure. They are often decorating issues or personal effects. Small cramped space, clutter, worn carpeting, dated wall covering and lighting fixtures or a peculiar furniture layout are just a few things that may not be considered very appealing. Add them to your list, and keep all these essentials in mind. Staging a home is much easer once you understand the positive and negative aspects of the actual house. Playing up the homes positive features often deter from the negative aspects in the process.
2. Backstage… Box up. Boxing up unessential effects is the next step to preparing a home. Getting rid of the disorder will make the rest of your efforts much more efficient. Typically, you should make one run through the entire house, boxing up unnecessary décor or anything that takes up too much space or looks messy. This will help potential homebuyers to not only feel more at ease during viewings, but allows the seller to focus on the property itself while also imagining their own belongings in the space.
3. Behind the scenes… Clean! Nothing is less appealing to a prospective buyer than a dirty house. So if cleaning is not your bag, hire someone to help. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire outside help, create a list of all the things that need to be done and make sure it is followed to the letter. Cleaning your house to sell is a more thorough cleaning than the weekly dusting and vacuuming. You need to be certain everything is spotless. Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. You want them to sparkle from top to bottom, everything, and I mean everything, needs to be dusted. Once your house has experienced a deep cleaning, it will be much easier to keep it clean while on the market.
4. PreSet… Repair or Replace? Once you’ve boxed up excess, now is the time to take a good look at the basics and decide what you need to repair, or replace. If you expect to receive a decent offer for your home, you need to give the buyer a decent product in return. A thorough cleanup is often enough to create the right image. Repairing any obvious damage is also a given. If something is damaged or worn-out and can be repaired, do not hesitate to have it restored. But if repairing does not do the trick, it is usually best to replace. Be thoughtful about where you spend your money. If you have been planning to knock out a wall to expand your kitchen, now is not the time. The money spent and time involved would not be recovered if you’re planning on selling your house within six weeks, or so. However, if your kitchen countertop is pitiful replacing it would be a smart move.
5. Setting the stage… The layout of your furnishings will dramatically affect the way potential buyers will identify with the space, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Refer to your home evaluation list and decide specifically what you need to play-up or what might be seen as a negative. Obviously, there are going to be pieces for practical reasons that will just have to stay where they are. It is the manner in which you work the piece into the space that’s important. Your furniture arrangement should play to the focal point of the room. If a fireplace is the selling point of your living room and your set-up currently evolves around the television, you will need to redirect attention to the fireplace. Start with the obvious. In the living room, a sofa, loveseat, and chair might be the basic furnishings. Placement of these larger pieces will determine the rest of the layout. Keep your layout open and airy, adding interest through angles, dimension, and height variation. You never want the back of major piece to obstruct access into a room. It blocks the entire flow of the space. When it comes to the actual furniture, ratty and worn out pieces will either have to be renovated or removed. However, a slipcover is also a great quick-fix and a better option than showing unsightly upholstery. Sofa and chair fabrics can also be cleaned. Don’t be afraid to flip-flop furnishings between rooms. End tables and side chairs should be arranged after the main furnishings are in place and used only to compliment the grouping just like anything else in the staging process, less is more. Furniture and accent pieces that aren’t absolutely necessary should be removed altogether and stored or used in another area of your home. To ease the strain of moving heavy pieces, you may want to invest in a moving dolly.
6. Dress to impress… You are preparing a house for a very important debut. Accessories should always be used in moderation and only placed for a purpose. Play-up a focal point like the first wall you see when you enter the home or a fireplace mantle and go for a little drama. Heftier, more substantial décor is a better choice than a lot of little knick-knacks. Built-in shelving and cupboards are also better enhanced with fewer decorations to show off the space. Remember “less is more”. To bring interest to a colorless room, try using a few bright pops of color with throw pillows, artwork, or plush green plants. To down play strong hues in upholstery, carpeting, or the walls, opt for neutral enhancements. A fresh coat of paint works wonders. Artwork should always be placed last. Like any other accessory, use some discretion. Allow for a few spots of completely bare wall to give the prospective buyer’s eye a place to rest and to enhance the illusion of space in a room. Never hang artwork too high: as a general rule, artwork should be hung as part of a furniture grouping and at eye level. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as oversized works of art or displays over taller mantles. Always use decorative items sparingly and make sure there is a purpose for their presence. If you are unclear as to how much is enough or how much is too much, go toward the conservative side.
7. CenterStage. Focus on curb appeal. Since a typical home buyer decides if they are attracted to a home or not in the first few seconds of seeing it, curb appeal is generally viewed as a vital aspect of the staging process. The outside of your house can be the source of a very good first impression. Keep the grass well-watered and mowed. Have your bushes trimmed. Cut back any overgrowth. Plant blooming flowers. Store trash cans, children’s toys and gardening equipment out of sight. Keep the garage doors closed. Have your front door and/or house painted, if necessary. Sweep the porch and the walkway. After dark, turn on your front porch light and any other exterior lighting.
8. Showtime! Once your home has been staged, it will be easier to maintain for showing. Avoid cooking foods with strong odors while your house is on the market. They have a tendency to linger in the air. Garbage should always be emptied. Be sure to make your bed each morning. Throw damp towels in the dryer before you leave for work to keep the bathroom looking tidy. And make sure to change the water in a vase full of fresh flowers daily. Children and pets are no-no’s in my opinion for showings. As cute as they might be, they are a major distraction. And you absolutely do not want anything taking a potential buyer’s attention from your house. And finally, unless this is a “For-Sale-By-Owner” property, you shouldn’t be there either. Potential buyers will talk more open and candidly to their agent about a property without the owner hanging around. Take the kids and the pets for a drive around the neighborhood for a while.
9. Critic? If you don’t think you can be objective when it comes to staging your own home, ask a friend who can be candid with you. Don’t take offense by their suggestions. This is not about you, personally. This is all about selling your house. Give your friend a few guidelines to follow. Let them know that you value their opinion, what your goal is, and remind them to be gentle, but honest.Remember… that when it comes time to sell your home, first impressions count. Showing a buyer what they want to see, is ultimately creating your own opportunity for success. Staging your home before it goes on the market creates the ultimate win-win situation for all involved.
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