Staging Your Home for Sale
The concept of “staging a home” can be anything from decluttering and cleaning to working with your realtor to spruce up each room. Also hiring a professional stager who actually boxes belongings, brings in new furniture and completely transforms your home. However, if you don’t have the budget for that, we suggest a DIY approach in consultation with your realtor.
We sat down with Rosemary Allison, named 2020 Woman of the Year, who is also a well known, award-winning realtor in the Conejo Valley. She often advises her clients on the importance of maximizing the potential of their home. “I review the things they need to do at our first meeting, which might include anything from deep cleaning to small cosmetic improvements. My number one piece of advice is to declutter. No one wants to see stacks of old magazines, holiday souvenirs or dirty clothes laying around.” Allison has many suggestions for preparing your home, like making sure all light fixtures are working (use LED lights that are a warm, soft color). Also, ensure that rooms appear symmetrical and tidy (no cords and chargers hanging from outlets or untucked bedsheets). If you have the budget for it, painting the interior of your home before selling can increase the value as much as 3 percent according to Consumer Reports. Stick with white or beige tones to create a fresh, clean space.
Often buyers will be standing at the front door for a few minutes as their realtor retrieves the house key from the lock box, so make sure everything looks its best. Allison suggests buying a new welcome mat and making sure the outdoor light fixture (with working bulbs) is devoid of cobwebs, bugs or other debris. Clean/dust the front door and consider re-staining or painting if necessary; polish or replace worn hardware. Depending on the space available, add seasonal potted plants and/or an attractive bench or chair.
Dazzle potential buyers by ensuring that your front entry is welcoming and appealing. Create a focal point. This can be a beautiful flower arrangement on a credenza or table to a colorful piece of wall art or a tall leafy plant in the corner. If your entry is small, adding a mirror can visually expand the space.
There’s a familiar saying that “kitchens sell houses.” Whether your kitchen was recently remodeled or not, give buyers the best impression possible. Clear all counters and islands. Stash appliances, sponges, dish soap, mail and so on in drawers or cabinets. This lack of clutter will create a sense of size and space. For an older kitchen, consider replacing hardware to give cabinets a more updated look. With a larger kitchen, you can create a set display. An example is placing an artsy bottle of vinegar with a cutting board, bread knife and a crusty loaf of bread. Allison suggests placing an attractive bowl filled with lemons on the counter or in the middle of the island. Pierce one of the lemons a couple times before a showing or open house to add a fresh citrus aroma.
Make sure all beds are neatly made up with sheets tucked in and nothing popping out from under the beds. Allison suggests replacing older frayed bedspreads or comforters with new ones. Close closet doors—after straightening hanging clothes and items on shelves. Master bedrooms should appear spacious, attractive and inviting. Additionally, minimize furniture to just a bed, dresser and end tables if possible. Bedding should be neutral and elegant. Allison also advises sellers to focus on symmetry. For example, if there are two end tables on the sides of a bed, make sure both have similar lamps on them and are otherwise clutter-free.
Bathrooms should be clutter-free and tasteful. Deep clean showers and tubs, and stash all soaps, shampoos, razors and so on in a tidy bin. Remove magazines, books and toilet plungers/brushes from the toilet area. Toilet seats should be down. Clear sink countertops of all products, toothbrushes, cups, etc. Make sure lights and fans are functional and clean. Add air freshener. Replace store-bought plastic soft soap containers with attractive dispensers—look for ones with pumps that match the metallic shade of your faucets. Lastly, place a neatly folded neutral towel with a small vase of flowers on the counter.
Create a sense of space by decluttering—put away magazines, DVDs, papers, remote controls, family photos and other knick knacks. Dust fireplace mantels, television screens and other surfaces. Next, remove excess furniture and create a conversation area composed of a sofa, coffee table and a chair or two. Keep window treatments simple. Hang a mirror on the wall opposite the window to maximize light and space.
You have just one chance to make a first impression. Above all, by making your home clean, neutral and inviting through strategic staging, you will appeal to a wide variety of buyers, potentially generating more demand and a higher sales price.