How to Stage a Home to Sell

Image from Redfin.comImage from Redfin.com

Your home is everything. It’s where you raise your children. It’s where you breathe after a long, hard day. It holds your memories. Unfortunately, if you are trying to sell your home, those very memories might be holding you back.

There is a reason show homes are beautifully furnished but impersonal. When buyers view homes, they want to imagine their own families in the home. In order to sell your home, you, as a seller, should let your home foster their imagination.

The process of making your home more salable through decor is called “staging.” Until fairly recently, staging was a relatively unknown profession. The job of a stager is to make your home sell much faster than if you were to try to sell it unstaged. The Real Estate Staging Association claims that an average time on market can be reduced from nine months to just two with proper staging. If your home is sitting empty, cutting the time on market can save you far more than what a stager will cost. However, if you are living in your home while you are waiting for the right offer, there are steps that you can take to make your home more sale-ready.

1. Arrange storage – Unless you have a new home for your a-bit-too-personal items to land, you will want to put them in storage. I recommend that you consider this to be part of the moving process. Most movers have storage and if it’s stored in their care, they take at least some responsibility for it. It is still recommended that you have additional insurance, but a mover will inventory all items both coming and going, so there is no question about what you might have in storage. If you rent a storage locker, there’s a good chance that the room will be too big or too small. You will never run that risk if you let a mover store your items for you.

2. Pare down – While your tastes in decorating might be eclectic (mine is), buyers want to see show home quality. If your furniture doesn’t match and if it’s not in perfect condition, move it to storage. Think about traffic flow. Get rid of anything you’ve ever stubbed your toe on. You want your home to have far more empty space than full space. It will make your home look bigger.

While your family pictures make your house your home, buyers want to envision their own families. Store all pictures except for art.

3. Rent furniture – If your furniture isn’t show home worthy, rent. There are several places where you can rent by the month for a fairly reasonable price. If you decide to hire a professional stager, most have furniture available.

4. Paint – Neutral but interesting paint colors will make your home look fresh and can help make sense of hodge podge furniture.

5. Buy stronger light bulbs – Lighting will help make your home seem brighter and more inviting.

6. Accessorize – You don’t have to be wealthy to have an exquisitely accessorized home. The human eye likes to see odd numbers – so arrange your accessories in threes or fives. While you don’t want them to match (in fact, they should vary by color and size), you do want them to have a common theme, which could be color or texture. Put the largest item in the back and the smallest in the front.

7. Invest in flowers – Scattered throughout the house, fresh and dried flower arrangements add interest and a little life.

8. Clean out your closets – the emptier the better.

9. Buy new hardware for your kitchen cabinets – You can buy new doors and drawer fronts relatively inexpensively.

10. Clean, clean and clean again – I won’t sugar coat it. Living in a for sale home isn’t fun. Beds have to be beautifully made each morning. Children’s and dog toys need to be out of view. Errant shoes are a no-no. Dishes must be washed and put away immediately after using. Cluttered kitchen or bathroom counters might be a way of life, but they will take away from buyer appeal. Vacuum carpets daily and make sure your hardwood floors shine. Scent is a big part of clean. Rather than obvious air fresheners, try potpourris and the old real estate trick – baking.

Home and Garden TV has some more detailed tips on staging your home.