Updated: Feb 4
Here are some tips from an Interior Designer on how to stage your home to get top dollar
Right now all over the country we are in the hottest housing market since
before the housing bubble crash in 2008. Even though things are going great it doesn't mean you don't want to your house to sell in the shortest amount of time and fingers crossed for above asking price. It takes the average person looking for a home seven seconds to decide whether or not they want your home. No pressure! On average staged homes sell faster and for more money than empty or non-staged homes. While it's hard to do as we put so much of ourselves into our homes, it is time to look at it as the investment you thought so hard about when you purchased it. Below are some tips to help get your property in top notch condition.
STEP 1: CURB APPEAL
This step is huge! This is the first impression of your home and it will be judged harshly. Do you want perspective home buyers to walk into your home expecting great things or walk through the door already knowing they are going to be disappointed? I know it sounds superficial, but that impression a person gets from the curb, positive or negative, will carry into the house. Start off on the wrong foot and it may just continue down hill from there.
Remove any dead plants and trim any dead flower stems, tree limbs, or grasses.
Clean up the grass or mulch next to your sidewalks or paths so they are crisp and clean.
If you don't have any flowers in your landscape, plant some. Even if it's some nice pots on the front steps or by the front door, add some fresh color and life shows you care about your house.
Pressure wash any concrete pathways. It will make them look like new. If you have any wood decking, a good power wash and a fresh stain or coat of paint will do wonders for curb appeal.
Have you been avoiding any small repairs on the house up until now? Maybe it's a sagging gutter, a cracked window pane, a rotten window sill, or cracking paint. Now is the time to get this repaired. A potential home buyer will see anything they need to fix as a reason to lower their price.
Make sure any outdoor lighting is working. Replace any lightbulbs that are burnt out. People will invariable flip that switch even during the day so make sure it's all working.
Clean the windows! People often forget this one, but it makes such a huge difference to have a potential home buyer looking through clean glass.
A fresh coat of paint on the front door can work wonders to draw the eye to the entry and create a focal point.
If you notice any mold (green or gray staining) or dirt on your siding get it cleaned. Let's make sure your house looks like new, not like you abandoned it twenty years ago!
Ahem, excuse me but did you forget something? The backyard? The same thing you do to freshen up the front of the house applies to the backyard. Having the Amazon in your homes description is not a benefit. Trim the bushes, pull the weeds, get rid of any dead plants, power wash the patio or deck, clean off the patio furniture and plant some flowers.
STEP 2: DECLUTTERING & CLEANING
Moving is the perfect time to get rid of anything you aren't using anymore because who wants to move all that stuff anyway? Less packing, less labor, less time. The more stuff you have laying around your home the smaller spaces will look. Now is the time to take on the minimalist aesthetic.
The adage in home staging is remove everything you own by half. I know it sounds hard, but it will make your house look twice as big. Rent a POD or storage unit for a month and pack up everything put the essentials for living and staging. Remember it's temporary and if it means your house sells faster and for more money it will be worth the time and effort.
Clean off any surfaces of clutter. I have a bad habit of putting stuff down on any horizontal surface in my home. Papers, bills, keys, you name it. It's time to go through all these items and clean them off. If you need items, but want to hide them, consider decorative boxes or baskets to put them in so things remain clean.
Be careful! This is where many home owners go overboard. We don't want an empty house with only air mattresses and lamps on the floor, bare walls, and empty rooms. We are looking for a clean, well staged, home so people can picture themselves in your home.
A deep cleaning is essential. Get a team in to do a thorough deep clean. Wash the windows, dust the baseboards, get all the cobwebs, and get every nook and cranny of the house. Wash the curtains, sheets, and towels. It's time to make your home a model home.
STEP 3: DE-PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACES
This part is the hardest for most people. We've all got pictures of our family and kids all over the house. Here is what I recommend to my clients to help with the separation anxiety that comes from saying goodbye to their home. Go through your house when it's clean, but before it's all packed up and dismantled, and take pictures of every room. Stand in each corner of the room and get a photo of every room. This will perfectly preserve your homes memories and everything you did while you lived there. If your kids are watching television, take a picture. If your mom is over cooking, take a picture. Then what I recommend is making a scrap book. Have the family go through each space and list their favorite memories for each room. Making a book of your house with pictures of great moments in the house like birthdays, Christmas, prom night, etc. and putting it all in one book, will help you say goodbye and have something special you can take with you and keep forever. Someday your kids will start asking about the house and you can pull out the book and reminisce.
Okay, back on to the topic. The reason you need to take down all the family photo's is you want the perspective buyer to see themselves in your home. Not you. It's not personal. If they can't picture themselves living in your house and see where their furniture will go then kiss a home offer goodbye.
STEP 4: REPAIR AND FIX
Remember when I was talking earlier about curb appeal and I mentioned fixing anything that was broken? The same applies to your interior. Remember any issue, no matter how small, is seen as a discount to the potential home buyer. Plus, you don't want them putting in the offer that they'll buy it so long as you fix everything, and oh by the way, it's twenty thousand under asking for your trouble. Paint cracks, wall scuffs, clogged plumbing, broken molding, ripped carpet, a missing floor tile, a dent in the wall from the kids playing baseball in the house, etc. Pay a handyman a few hours or put in your own elbow grease, but it's worth getting it all looking like a million bucks.
STEP 5: NEUTRALIZE
I hate to say it, but people hate to paint. I've seen people leave a home just because of a wall paint color they didn't like. Crazy right? Unfortunately, the bold colors you loved may not be everybody's cup of tea. It's time to neutralize any loud, dated, or garish colors or wallpaper into tans and beige. I know. It's boring. Do you know what the number one selling color for Sherwin Williams is? Kilim Beige. It's light and goes with everything. Put that next to crisp white trim and you have gold. I'm not saying you can have some splashes of color in your furniture, but keep the wall colors neutral.
STEP 6: FOCUS ON FRESH, LIGHT, AND AIRY
Open up the windows and let in the light. Turn on the lights. Add a few live plants, and air out the house. Smell has a profound affect on people. Before you have a home showing, either bake cookies, or boil cinnamon and apples. Get rid of anything that invoke the following terms; wet dog, litter pan, pee, dirty sock, sweat, or locker room. If it's in the carpet have a good deep cleaning done. Stanley Steamer can clean your furniture too if it's the center of your pet and children's world.
If this all seems overwhelming make sure to do a Google search in your area for a home stager (an interior designer can help too, wink wink) or a home organizer to help with decluttering. Hire a house cleaning company to do the deep cleaning and a handyman to take care of the small repairs around the house. Let's face it, selling and moving, isn't fun. It's hard work and a huge inconvenience, so lets at least get you top dollar for your trouble to put towards your next home.
Author: Shelly Czernicki, has sixteen years of experience in interior design, is a Certified Interior Designer with the state of Virginia, has her NCIDQ, and is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. For more help contact Design Works Studio, LLC. based in Roanoke, Virginia. We are here for all your design needs.