February has arrived and much of the country is still covered in inches, if not feet, of snow. And while spring still seems far away, if you have any plans of selling your home, NOW is the time to get workin’. Most of my posts on Simplified Decorating are about interior design, which is all about you and your style. Home staging is an entirely different animal. It is NOT about you at all, it is all about the buyer and making your home attractive to the largest number of people.
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) I have lots of experience in this area. In the past 3 years alone I’ve staged and sold 2 of my own homes, not to mention my sister’s home and cottage. I also have a lot of experience in home shopping and let me tell you, your home will STAND OUT if you stage it properly. Many people think the “good bones” of their home will sell itself. That’s just not true. Most people can’t and won’t see past flaws, clutter, specific design choices, and wakadoo colors.
So if this is the year to sell your home, YOU CAN DO IT…but you must take the time and possibly even spend the money to stage your home properly.
#1 CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
While generally I’d agree with the above statement, when it comes to real estate there is nothing that will make a potential buyer walk away quicker than a dirty house. Scrub the kitchen, bathrooms, floorboards, etc. Invite a “neat freak” friend over to help or make suggestions. Often we don’t notice our own corners of dirtiness. Even better, if you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to do a one-time major cleaning and/or continued scheduled cleaning.
#2 DECLUTTER AND DEPERSONALIZE
Let’s be honest, most of our homes have too much stuff. Clutter is a major sale killer. Look around the kitchen and keep only 1 or 2 countertop appliances…MAX! You also need to remove the extra toys, magazines, furniture, clothing, toiletries etc. In order to stage your home, most of you (myself included) should store or discard about half of your decorations, furniture and clothing. Homes with space look larger. Look at it this way, if you wouldn’t find it in a posh hotel or model home, it doesn’t need to be in your home while it’s on the market.
Most of our homes also reflect our own personal story: our wedding photos, pictures of our children, christmas cards from friends, kid’s pictures from school, etc. But these are distracting to potential buyers. They need to see themselves living there…not YOU! Clear the fridge, pack the family photos and momentos. You’ll not only help your house sell, you’ll also get a head start on packing!
#3 FIX ALL OF THE MINOR AND MAJOR ISSUES
This is a buyers market, which means most people are expecting to buy a home that is move-in ready. Minor dents, squeaky doors, broken knobs, chipped paint…these all seem like minor issues, but they add up in the mind of a buyer. Go through your home and mark all areas that need to be fixed and do ALL of them before you list the home. And PLEASE, don’t forget the outside. Curb appeal is one of THE most important selling features. You may need to repaint the front door, the garage, the trim, or even the entire house. Landscaping may need to be freshened up. Spend the least amount of money possible, but make sure it gets done. This is worth it in the long run! As I’ve shared before, we bought our current home for about 50K under what it probably could have sold for, had they invested about 5-10k on the exterior.
#4 GET A FRESH SET OF EYES
Once you’ve CLEANED, DECLUTTERED, DEPERSONALIZED, AND FIXED you are now ready to work on curb appeal and furniture arrangement. I have found it is invaluable to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member with a good eye for design to help in this area. You’ll want to make sure this person also has experience in staging their own home. Your realtor might even be a good option. This person can help make recomendations on what can be rearraged, repurposed, or spruced up. I recently housesat for friends and they had a home showing while I was there. The house was clean and ready, but I moved some things around and put some things away to help showcase the house a bit more. My friend (who is an extraordinary designer) was so thankful for the fresh set of eyes!
#5 LOOK AT EVERY SPACE AND ASK “DOES THIS ROOM WORK?”
Obviously, for this room the answer is NO!!! Too much clutter, color, and taste specific decor (thankfully this picture does not come from my house). Start with the first room a buyer will see. Is there a well-defined seating area? Is the decor neutral and inviting? Does the space flow well? Maybe it needs fresh paint or new window treatments? Does each room “function” as it should? Craft room/den/office just doesn’t work. Choose 1 function for each room and that’s it! This may mean getting rid of a few TV’s for a little while. In my sister’s home, she had one room that she used as a living room/dining room with an adjacent room that was a den. There were too many couches and not a designated dining space. We stored an oversized sectional and made the den into a designated dining room. The flow made much better sense and the cost was ZERO!
#6 FRESH FLOWERS AND FRESH LINENS GO A LONG WAY
When it comes time to show your home, make sure you have flowers outside in the form of hanging baskets, window boxes or urns. Don’t overdo it, but a small vase of daisys or something simple is a great touch in the inside as well. And finally, make sure any towels that are displayed, are fresh and clean (i.e. kitchen towels, hand towels, bath towels). All of these towels should look brand new and never used. This will again make the potential buyer feel like they are walking into a model home or luxury hotel. Follow these steps and you’re on your way to SOLD!