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Prepping Your House to Sell: Tips on Home Staging

Here we are at the fifth and final installment of our series on preparing your house for sale.  After this it will be just a matter of signing on the dotted line — first with a realtor, and then, hopefully, with a buyer who gives you a price you want!!  Woot!!

The final installment in a series. Home staging is that final touch needed to make your home stand out from the rest.If you missed the other posts in the series, you can find them here:

1. Make a Plan
2. Declutter and Organize
3. Clean Up
4. Curb Appeal

Today, though, we need to talk about home staging.  Staging is decorating your house so that it is appealing to a prospective buyer.  And there is one maxim that applies here in a BIG way:

 “Less is more.”

In other words, for staging purposes it is better for the house to seem almost barren of décor and furniture, rather than even mildly crowded.  You want the home to look clean and uncluttered; you don't want your furnishings and doo-dads to distract the buyer from the structure and floor plan of the house.

The first steps in staging are ones we have already been working on. It is important that the storage areas of the home are decluttered ( a good rule of thumb is to make sure you can see the back wall of the cabinet or closet), and it is also necessary that the entire home be clean. Both of these (or lack thereof, lol) will make a huge impact on a prospective buyer.

But in addition to those things, staging includes paring down even what's left.  You almost want your home to look like a hotel room — impersonal, while still comfortable.  The reason for this is that you want the prospective buyer to see THEMSELVES living in the house, which is hard for them to do if YOUR tastes and collections are in evidence everywhere.

Home Staging 101

So here are a few things to consider as you work on your home staging:

  • All horizontal surfaces – dressers, coffee and end tables, kitchen and dining room tables – should have VERY FEW items on them, if any at all. No need for coffee table books or silk flower arrangements. No stacks of magazines or books.  Just nice, clean, dusted expanse.
  • Bookshelves – If possible, avoid having books laying down on their sides on top of the other books; in other words, put excess books in a box and store them somewhere.  Be very selective of any décor you might place on the shelves; think sparse, but not empty.
  • Furniture – Pare down each room to the bare minimum required. You want the rooms to look open and inviting, which means a lot of floor and wall space should be visible. For example, I moved a chair that was in my bedroom down to the basement, so that we could center the head of our bed on the wall.  This made the room look much bigger. In the living areas, arrange the furniture with traffic flow in mind.  It goes without saying that all furniture should be clean and in good condition — this may mean purchasing a slipcover if your sofa is showing wear.  No, they are not buying your furniture, but ratty furniture will make the house look unkempt, as well.
  • Kitchen – it is best if most small appliances can be stored within the cabinets. The countertops should be as bare as possible, so that the buyer can see how expansive they are.  Also clear all the paperwork off of the fridge.  One thing I do in the kitchen is keep a set of pretty towels ready in the drawer. When I am getting ready for a showing, I take the used, dirty towels and put them in the laundry hamper; and I hang the clean, pretty ones in their place. After the showing I put the clean ones back in the drawer; they never get used, except to hang there and look nice. I also have a tablecloth ready to put on the table. This helps the kitchen look fresh.
  • Bathrooms – Clear all toiletries off of the countertops.  Keep the showers/tubs shiny clean.  Shine the sinks and chrome and give a quick swipe to the mirrors. (Quick trip which I just tried for the first time yesterday:  Use Rain-X on the shower/tub walls.  The idea is that it will repel water, thus keeping the shininess longer… I'll let you know how it works.)
  • Master Bedroom — make it look luxurious and inviting. This may be the time to invest in a new comforter set for your bed. Go for the lots-of-pillows look to give it that “magazine picture” appearance.
  • Personal photos — again, think “hotel room.”  Take down the personal photos and store them.  Hang up some stylish art prints in their place — but not too many!
  • Smells — remember in Leap Year when Amy Adams told the dude to have cookies baking in the oven during the open house?  Filling the house with yummy smells makes people feel good while they're in there.  I don't think you need to go the baked goods route, but definitely address any questionable smells that may be lingering, such as pet odor, or the fish you had for dinner last night…

Here is probably a good time to mention that I have a free, printable list of everything to take care of when doing that quick clean right before a showing — you know, the one where you are running around like a mad woman and need something down in black and white so you don't forget anything… :-)  You can find the link for it at the end of the third installment of this series, the one on cleaning up.

What are some other things we can do to make our homes look absolutely perfect when that prospective buyer comes through?  I'm totally open to further suggestions, because our house is now on the market!!  It's exciting and scary at the same time… to follow along with our house sale saga, feel free to LIKE me on Facebook or put your email address in the box at the right. :-)

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