When you are ready to place your home on the market, you should begin thinking of it as a product. It needs to appeal to the widest audience possible. Just like any product on the shelves at your local store, it has features and benefits, pluses and minuses, and there are other products to compare. To gain an edge over competitors in the marketplace you must be priced right, and look better than other homes. If your home seems like a better deal, buyers will flock.
Staging can take a home from *meh* to *WOW*!
When you sell your home you are going to have to move. When you move you are going to have to pack. Most of the principles of staging just mean that you are going to pack up some of your things early. It shouldn’t cost much, and it is a bit of work, but you are going to have to do it anyway, so let’s do it now so you can get top dollar for your property!
- If your electric bill doesn’t go up while your house is on the market – you are doing it wrong. While on the market all lights should be left on in case of a showing, and a comfortable temperature should be maintained. For aesthetics, consider removing all screens from the windows.
- In every room…..stand in the doorway and look at the room through the eyes of a buyer. What do you see? Be tough on yourself. What can you live without while your home is on the market?
- Most carpets need to be cleaned. Have them professionally cleaned before coming on the market. “Buyers only know what they see…not the way it is going to be!” Unless your home is a “fixer”, badly worn or very out of date carpets should be replaced before coming on the market. Offering a buyer a credit to pick their own new carpet or a discount off the price is far less effective and will always end up costing you more money and slow the selling process. Pick a light-colored short plush or frieze carpet. “Real-estate beige” is the safest color.
- Check all light fixtures. Are they working properly? Replace all burned out light bulbs.
- Look for dark hallways and corners and increase the wattage of bulbs in those areas.
- Make sure there are lamps with adequate bulbs for dark corners that are turned on for showings.
- Repair and repaint cracks on walls and ceilings.
- Repair or replace broken light switches and switch plates. Clean any dirty areas around them.
- Keep all curtains and blinds open during the day to let in light and views. The extra cost of additional heating or air conditioning is a necessary cost of selling.
- Reduce the number of pillows on couches to zero or two. Remove all afghans and blankets.
- Pack up all valuable items to protect them (jewelry, weapons, collectibles). This includes prescription drugs. If necessary, take them to a safe deposit box.
- Take a hard look at those beloved house plants. In most cases, they need to be pruned and/or the number of plants reduced to create more space. If plants don’t look healthy and are just barely clinging to life throw them away.
- Pack up all collections (you’re going to need to pack them up sooner or later anyway). They become a distraction for buyers from the desired focal point…your home.
- Reduce the number of books on bookshelves. Pack up extra books early!
- Remove family pictures on shelves, pianos, and tables. Personal photos are acceptable, but they need to be showcase art pieces, not knickknacks in frames.
- Be sensitive to odors, because buyers are! Excessive cooking or smoking odors, dog or cat odors, baby, laundry and mildew odors will turn off buyers. If there is a challenge with odors in your home use room deodorants or disinfectant sprays and keep windows cracked open for ventilation even in very hot or cold weather. (There are great products in pet stores for pet odors, and many professional carpet cleaners have special ozone machines that can really help with difficult odors.) You can’t sell it if you can smell it!
- Wash all windows and make sure they operate freely. If the seal is broken on a double-pane window, replace it now.
- Repair items that are broken. This will show that your home is well-taken-care- \of. In most cases, buyers will ask for them to be repaired anyway, so do it now.
- Don’t be afraid to move furniture from room to room. That extra chair from the living room or dining room may just look great in the master bedroom.
- Dog & cat dishes, pet bedding, and toys should be placed in the garage.
- In general pack up the little things. Little things create clutter and they need to be packed up anyway, so pack them up now.
- Remove all ashtrays. Absolutely no smoking inside the house while it’s on the market.
- If you go into a model home that is newly constructed, you will see that they are usually sparsely decorated. In a resale home, you need to create space for buyers to mentally move into the room by reducing clutter and the overall number of items.
Living Room, Family Rooms
- Clear off all coffee tables and end tables to just 2 or 3 magazines and one nice vase or statuary. Tuck remotes into a drawer.
- Make sure all DVDs and games are out of site.
- Fireplaces need to be cleaned out. Glass doors should be cleaned. Mantles and hearths need to be cleared off except for a very few necessary items.
- To create more space you may want to remove a chair, a love seat or other pieces of furniture.
- Clear off dining room table except for one nice centerpiece.
- Remove tablecloths from the table.
- Remove extra leaves from the table to make the room look bigger.
- Remove extra dining room chairs if they crowd the table or fill up the corners of the room. Four or six chairs are plenty. It will make the room look bigger and you can put the extra chairs in the garage or storage unit.
- Reduce the number of items on display on shelves, hutches, buffets, and cabinets.
- The main question in the kitchen is…what can you live without? Clear off counters leaving only a very few items that you have to use on a daily basis. Everything else should be kept off the counters to create space. Most homes have far too many small appliances and other items out that should be stored out of sight. Leave out a few large decorative items like a bowl of fruit or a basket with bread in it.
- Scrub the cabinets clean.
- Repair any tile or Formica countertops and edges that have been damaged or come unglued.
- Clean tile grout with bleach if it is stained.
- Remove all magnets, photos, children’s drawings, etc. from the front of the refrigerator. If there are a couple of truly necessary items put them on the side of the refrigerator.
- Clean the stove top and oven. Replace old burner pans if they are badly stained. Clean all exhaust fans, filters, and hoods.
- Clean the kitchen floor and keep it clean for showings
- Keep the kitchen sink clean and empty on a daily basis.
- Make sure the kitchen faucet is working smoothly without drips and that it is clean.
- Clear everything off the window ledge above the kitchen sink.
- Remember to pack up the collections in the kitchen. Pack up your antique plate collection or whatever will distract buyers and take up space.
- Keep all soaps, towels, scouring pads and cleaning supplies out of sight under the sink.
- Some kitchens have too many scatter rugs in them. Too many rugs make a room look smaller. If space allows, one large Oriental rug in the middle of the kitchen looks great – or no rugs at all.
- Empty the garbage regularly to prevent kitchen odors.
- Move dog and cat dishes so that they don’t interfere with buyers walking around the room – preferably to the garage.
- Make the bed every day.
- Invest in a new bedspread if necessary.
- Clear off bedside tables and chest of drawers except for a very few necessary items.
- Store extra books and magazines underneath the bed.
- Keep closet doors closed. If you have a walk-in closet, keep the floor clean and free of laundry and clutter.
- Pack up out of season clothing to make the closets seem extra spacious. This is true for closets throughout the house.
- Reduce the number of photos on tables and chest of drawers to a minimum.
- Remove plastic runners on carpet or hardwood floors.
- Make sure the smoke detectors have working batteries.
- See master bedroom guidelines.
- In children’s rooms take down all the posters except for one favorite over the bed. Repair nail holes and paint walls. Consider repainting if the color is vibrant.
- Put soaps and cleaners in a cupboard or reduce the number and organize them neatly on one shelf.
- Just like in the kitchen, keep counters and sinks clean and empty.
- Get rid of excess hangers and hanging laundry.
- Make sure that light bulbs are working and have adequate “bright white” wattage. Many laundry rooms are too dark and need to be brighter.
- Put a large bowl of Tide detergent (not liquid) on top of the dryer with a scoop in it. Use it and it gives that clean fresh smell to the entire area.
- Clear off counters. Reduce toiletries down to a decorative few (4 at most) and consolidate them on a tray or decorative basket. Put everything else in drawers or cabinets.
- Scrub those cabinets.
- Replace hand soap bars with a neat bottle of liquid soap.
- Coordinate all towels with one or two colors. Fold in thirds and hang neatly every day.
- Clear everything out of the shower except for absolute necessities.
- Clean or replace the shower curtain. Keep shower curtains drawn at all times.
- One common problem in a lot of bathrooms is cracking or peeling just above the top of the shower tile or tub enclosure where it meets the drywall or ceiling. Repair using caulking and paint or install wood trim coated in polyurethane
- Get rid of mold and stains throughout the bathroom, especially in the shower and bathtub area.
- Many tubs and showers need a fresh new bead of silicone caulking around the edges to make them look neat and clean.
- Remove all cloth toilet lid covers. Keep toilet lids down every day.
- Small scatter rugs in front of the sink, toilet and shower make the room look small. Use one larger rug in the middle of the room or none at all.
- Hide all cleaning supplies and the garbage can under the sink or out of the line of sight.
- Be aware of smells, musty odors, and dampness. Do your best to alleviate problems by repairing and cleaning problem areas. Use room deodorants and disinfectant spray to help with any odors.
- If you use the basement for storage, condense the piles to one corner of one area of the basement.
- Clear any drains.
- Carports should be completely cleaned out.
- Garages should be swept out and organized. If you have to use part or the entire garage for storage, that’s fine, just keep it neat.
- Always keep garage doors down while your home is on the market.
- If you’re not using the garage for storage, keep cars in the garage and not in the driveway.
- Move boats and RVs to a storage facility or neighbor’s home several homes away until your home sells.
- If garage floor is very stained, paint with gray or beige concrete paint.
- Rent a storage unit or a POD.
- Have a garage sale. I made nearly $1,000 with my last sale!
- Give it to charity. (ARC will pick up!)
- Put it in the attic.
- Store it in the crawl space.
- Use a portion or corner of the basement.
- Use part or all of the garage.
- As a last resort, sacrifice a third or fourth bedroom and fill it full.
- The first impression when a buyer drives up to your home is critical. Walk across the street and look at it through the eyes of a buyer. Be tough on yourself. What do you see?
- Take a hard look at the front door and trim. Give special attention to this because this is where buyers will get their first opportunity to make a close inspection of your home. Does it need repainting or staining? Repainting the doors and trim to help make the house look crisp and in good condition is one of the least expensive things you can do to dress up a home.
- Sweep all decks, walks, porches, and patios and keep them swept.
- Remove any moss/mildew from all decks, walks, and patios.
- Decks should be pressure-washed, stained or painted if they are in need of it.
- Reduce clutter on decks, porches, and patios so that they look bigger. Get rid of old flowerpots, barbecues, charcoal, planters, toys, construction materials and excess furniture.
- If you have outdoor furniture, create one simple ‘room setting’ of clean furniture that will remind buyers of the usefulness of the space.
- Decks & patios should look like you are going to entertain there.
- Clean all debris and moss from roof and gutters. Caulk exposed areas.
- Repair broken fences and paint if necessary.
- Plants are like children…they grow up so fast! First, they are little and cute, then they seem just right, and all of a sudden they’re so big we hardly know how to take care of them! You can’t trim the kids, but you can trim the plants. If they need it, do it now.
- Rake and weed flower beds. Spread new mulch such as beauty bark, pine needles, gravel or lava rock to put a finishing touch on the landscaping.
- Mow lawn and keep it mowed on a weekly basis during the growing season
- Trim branches around roof line to prevent animals, insects, and foliage from getting on the roof. Inspectors will notice any foliage touching the house and mark it in their report.
- “Curb appeal” is important. Has your landscaping overgrown the house? Remember… “You can’t sell it if you can’t see it!” Cut back all shrubs to window height that block light or view from windows.
- Move all children’s toys to the backyard.
- Clean and sweep paved driveways. Rake, weed, or re-gravel gravel driveways.
- Remove any extra items from the yard, such as tools, piles of lumber or auto parts.
- Children’s toys should all go in one area in the backyard.
- Folex – Instant spot carpet remover. Perfect for rust, red wine or pet accidents. Available at Lowe’s or Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Polyshades by Minwax – Brightens all wood cabinets in the home (kitchen, bath etc.)
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – Works well on cabinets and scuff marks.
- Holloway House Quick Shine Floor Finish – The green bottle plus a washable, microfiber mop. So much more effective than Swiffer.
- Dyson Animal Stick Vac – A bit pricey, but this little cordless vacuum works amazingly well on hard floors.
- Flat Paint in light neutral grays and beiges. Recommend SW Repose Gray and SW Accessible Beige.
- Air Fresheners – If you are going to use aromas, studies show that citrus is the best scent when selling a home; it conveys cleanliness. Many folks think that cinnamon, cookies, and florals convey warmth, but studies show that they bring to mind images of “grandma’s old house” instead. Stick to orange and lemon scents. Yankee makes a scent called Vanilla-Lime that knocks my socks off. If you don’t care for citrus, try something like “clean cotton” or Febreze.