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How to Stage a House for Sale

Given all the barriers to a quick, easy, and profitable real estate sale, you need to use every tactic in your power to gain an advantage as a seller. According...

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Given all the barriers to a quick, easy, and profitable real estate sale, you need to use every tactic in your power to gain an advantage as a seller. According to US News, the layout of your home is a huge factor for housing resale value, while information from the International Association of Home Staging Professionals states that, on average, staged homes sell 79 days faster than non-staged homes, and sell for 17% more. If you’re considering putting your property on the market, read on for ideas on how to stage a house for sale for the best possible results.

Start by Decluttering

A crucial first step in staging your home for an enjoyable viewing experience involves removing everything potential buyers don’t need to see while at the same time giving the positive attributes of your house the opportunity to shine. Decluttering countertops, bookcases, floors, and tabletops is a logical place to start and an effective method for giving the interior home a quick and easy facelift.

It’s also extremely important to address dedicated storage spaces ranging from kitchen cabinets, basements, and attics to laundry rooms, garages, and outdoor sheds. When home shoppers for instance view a well-organized walk-in closet, it not only shows off the available storage space your home has to offer but sends the message that this house is big enough to hold your possessions without having to jam most of it away behind closed doors.

Safeguard Your Valuables

If you’re having an open house where you are not in attendance, put valuables, prescriptions, personal papers, and breakables that are precious to you in storage for safekeeping.  The public isn’t always as careful as you might like, so if it’s a choice between leaving something breakable out to show off the space and putting it safely away, opt for storage. Don’t think storing in your home is a viable option ‐‐ every cabinet and drawer will get opened! The attending real estate agents will do their best, but they’re paying attention to the people coming through and can easily be distracted.

Perform a Thorough Cleaning

If you really want to figure out how to sell your house fast for the best price, a top-to-bottom cleaning is as straightforward a tip as you can get. Because you better believe buyers are looking at every inch of your home with a discerning eye, and nothing turns them off faster than grimy floors, stained appliances, or foul odors. Take a thorough approach, like you would for an annual spring cleaning, mopping floors, cleaning walls, doors, ceilings, and surfaces in every room and hallway. Be sure to place a particular emphasis on bathrooms and kitchens.  Clean ashes out of the fireplace (if you have one), as it can be a major selling point, but not when it’s stained with soot and simply looks like a lot of work.

Do what you can to get your wood, tile, and laminate surfaces looking shiny and new, and consider replacing worn-out rugs and fixing any damaged or broken fixtures such as doorknobs and cabinet pulls. If you don’t have the time, know you’re just not a great cleaner, or have an exceedingly difficult task such as polishing or refinishing hardwood floors, contracting professional cleaning help will be well worth the relatively small investment.

Don’t Overlook Curb Appeal

First impressions understandably set the tone for a real estate showing, and a negative one can have an impact that’s nearly impossible to rebound from. Make sure when you’re ready to list, you take the time to get your yard looking as lush and healthy as possible, keeping the lawn freshly mowed, trimming hedges, and sprucing up flower beds and planters along the way. You may also wish to weigh the return on putting a fresh coat of paint on the house, replacing the shutters, or re‐paving the driveway if there’s a particular aspect of the exterior that’s negatively impacting the value. Buyers are not forgiving and they’ll see that crack you’ve stopped noticing years ago.

When staging your home for sale, go the extra mile and wash the windows inside and out so they’re bright and reflective and let in the maximum amount of natural light. Also, give your gutters and drains a careful cleaning. If you’re showing in the rain, an emerging flood situation isn’t how you want to greet your guests.

Decide What Stays

Effectively staging your home for sale is a matter of looking at things from someone else’s perspective. You want to help them imagine what living in the house would be like ‐‐ for them.  So it’s a balance between giving them the space to imagine and helping them see how you utilize the rooms. A lot of your decorations probably have sentimental value. You may have some furniture that’s cozy, comfortable, and practical, but not so visually appealing. These are the items you’ll want to carefully pack away and place in storage until your home is sold and it’s time to move. You want to get rid of the things that could turn buyers off, and fill it with items that make the appropriate impression.

Ask yourself:

  • Which pieces of furniture in your home are the most attractive?
  • Which decorations set a room off, and which ones are unnecessary?
  • Are there items that detract from the spaciousness of the layout?

According to these home‐staging tips from HGTV, you don’t want to overcrowd rooms with big furniture. Choose to keep the items that come as close as possible to meeting these two qualifications:

  • Visually appealing and well‐matched with the space
  • Serves a purpose or makes awkward spaces more functional

Target Buyers in Your Market

When considering how to sell your house fast for maximum profit, remember that every neighborhood and city is different. An experienced real estate agent should be able to help you determine an overall approach to marketing your home most effectively. For example, is your location likely to attract new parents because of the school district, or single people due to the proximity to local entertainment? The key is performing an analysis of the most likely potential buyers to form a strategy for arranging your home in a way that piques their interest.
When deciding how to stage your home, try to focus on a single theme. You can’t be everything to everyone, so make it a point to stay close to the middle. Additional tips on how to stage a home for sale include:

  • Adjust your floor plan for a flow that allows guests to move about the house with natural ease.
  • Place furniture in visually appealing locations; symmetrical arrangements most often register a positive effect.
  • Define what a room is, and demonstrate how every room is useable.
  • Eliminate elements that make your home look dated by updating tiles and cabinets, removing old wallpaper, and even swapping out art and decorations.
  • Tone down bright colors and strong style statements. Whether it’s your bathroom towels or bedroom linens choose colors that are neutral and have the broadest appeal.

Put on the Finishing Touches

Now that your home is cleaned and decluttered inside and out and properly staged, it’s time to consider the subtle touches that can push your showing over the top. From arranging interesting magazines and books on the coffee table and placing fresh flowers throughout the home to opening shades to let in natural light and using area lamps to emphasize points of interest, it’s all about helping buyers visualize living in your home.

Shortly before a showing, crack windows to air things out and light a few candles with a gentle, clean scent. Avoid cooking in the kitchen on days you’re expecting visitors or using strong-smelling sprays that make it seem like you’re covering up unpleasant odors. Finally, set the thermostat for the optimal temperature. If it’s going to be an open house, cool things off in advance so crowded rooms don’t quickly become warm and stuffy. If it’s cold outside, make sure to eliminate drafts and turn up the heat just a tick so people are greeted with a warm and inviting environment.

Now that you know how to stage your home for a sale, it’s time to put your plan into action. For more on cleaning and decluttering your home and putting your valuable possessions into storage, browse our blog archives for additional information and expert tips.

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