There are good reasons why buyers love looking at photos of homes for sale — and scrolling through beautiful room after room helps serious buyers see themselves in those very rooms.
But as sellers (and real estate agents) can attest, getting a home ready for its close-up shot (also known as “staging”) is not always easy and is not always fun. It involves a lot of cleaning, possibly furniture removal, much attention to detail, and lots of light. This is why professional stagers charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for their services.
If hiring a stager isn’t in necessarily in the budget. You can take advantage of some of a do-it-yourself staging ideas. Consider taking advantage of these relatively quick and easy methods for helping your soon-to-be-sold home appear shiny new, and showing ready.
1. Clean, then clean, then it clean again
Even if you do everything else on the list, if your home isn’t clean, you won’t be reaping all of the benefits that staging could generate for you. There are two big steps to cleaning for staging:
- Decluttering your home
- Deep clean everything
First, lets tackle the clutter. This might be a good time to consider having a neighborhood garage sale or arrange for your some family to pick up all the hand-me-downs you’ve been promising. It always makes sense to start with things that you don’t want to pack up and move to a new location.
Remember the furniture — too much furniture in a room makes it look cramped and small, so remove what you don’t need.
Resist the temptation to box up everything and place it in one room like the garage, a basement or attic. Buyers will want to open doors, cabinets, and drawers, and look in your closets and utility rooms. If you want to keep your home looking its best, you need to keep those areas neat, too.
Some sellers rent storage facilities during this process, and that may be a good possibility for you as well. If you have family or good friends in the area who can take some of the larger items for you, then you might be able to get a smaller storage unit.
Once the surfaces are clear and your surroundings feel more like a vacation-home than a lived-in home, it’s time to start deep cleaning. Scrub the inside from ceiling to floors; wash your windows; power-washing the outside to brighten it up. Plant new flowers, keep the sidewalks and walkways clear and weed-free and set some nice chairs with fluffy cushions on your (freshly polished, cobweb-free) front porch.
Once the decluttering is complete, it’ll be much easier to get everything looking shiny and new.
2. Lighten it up
If you haven’t changed your light bulbs in a while, then you might be surprised by how much brighter they’ve gotten — or what the difference a bright bulb can make in a room that you thought was naturally dim. Changing your lightbulbs can be a fast way to give your entire home a quick lift, brightening up every room to helping potential buyers see exactly how well-maintained those original wood floors are, and examine the crown molding close up.
Experts suggest that you obtain 100 watts of lighting for every 50 square feet in your home, you may want to consider using three different types of lighting to get there. Overhead or ambient lighting is important, but accent lighting (on walls and tables) and task lighting (reading or under-cabinet lights) will help showcase your space also.
3. Rearrange rooms with an eye for balance
Most of us don’t live in perfect, symmetrical surroundings, but if there’s a way to achieve it with your furniture, then it’s worth it to try — at least for the listing photos. You should balance your shelves, counters, and mantelpieces in the same way, with an eye for highlighting the accessories that will help make your home look neat and organized.
You can do the same thing with your area rugs and artwork. Arrange your floor and wall coverings to draw the eye down the halls and through the house, which will give the buyers a pleasant sense of welcome.
4. Organize and energize the home
There will always be some parts of your house that are made to hold “stuff” — but you can make that stuff look presentable with some good organization.
Some decluttering and color-blocking on your bookshelves can make the display draw the eye instead of distracting from the rest of the room. For example: kids’ and pets’ toys can be an opportunity to organize and beautify with a decorative box or a fun shelving unit that holds everything with style.
Straighten up all your shoes on closet floors and organize the hanging areas, then open up the doors when you leave for a buyer’s tour. They’ll enjoy the welcoming feeling of the open doors (and you know they were going to open them up, anyway).
5. Polish up your appliances
If you can afford to, buy new appliances, they can go a long way toward helping a buyer fall in love with the kitchen (the heart of the house for many). New kitchen appliances help generate higher returns for sellers. Therefore, depending on the condition and upgrades in the rest of the home, you may want to consider it.
If you can’t afford to buy new, you can always help your appliances look their best by using stainless steel polish, glass polish, or whatever else you need to regenerate the shine on your stove.
You don’t need to take every single one of these tips when staging your home — but don’t ignore them all when you’re selling, either. Remember taking time to do some staging before a buyer even sees the place can reap big rewards at the closing table.