By Jennifer Segelke Jeffers
Now that you’ve purchased a new home and are preparing to move, it’s time to get your old one ready to sell. And, we’ve all heard it before: You have to spend money to make money. Though not a hard and fast rule, it often holds true when selling your home. In order to sell fast and at a higher price point, putting some elbow grease and a few extra dollars toward the cause is a great idea. Enter home staging.
Staging your home requires a bit more effort than just keeping it clean and, when done properly, staging will showcase your house in a light that’s most attractive to buyers. Here are six staging suggestions from two industry experts:
1. Amp up your home’s curb appeal.
While setting up a meeting with your area’s top landscape architect might be overkill, sprucing up your home’s exterior will bolster curb appeal and give potential buyers a great first impression. Amy George of Impact Interiors in Austin, Texas, suggests planting colorful flowers along the entryway and maintaining your lawn so that it’s green and vibrant. These small changes make a big impact in that fresh, healthy plants exude a vibe of vitality, while plants past their prime give your home a stale feel.
Other touch-ups include trimming hedges and mowing the lawn; cleaning doors, light fixtures and windows; power washing where possible and placing an oversized welcome mat at the front door. The key here is to ensure that the home’s exterior is welcoming and appears well kept, as peoples’ eyes are naturally drawn to beautiful, inviting outdoor living spaces and landscaping while house-hunting.
Overall, plants are a powerful and inexpensive edge for your home versus others on the market, so make sure your house’s exterior stands out to attract more buyer interest your way.
Tip: Use black mulch in flowerbeds, as red mulch is too bright and detracts from the home.
2. Simplify décor and remove personal items.
For those sellers still living in their home, removing (or hiding) personal items such as photographs, memorabilia, clutter and bathroom essentials is a home-staging best practice. This is also true for any objects of a religious or political nature.
Paul Jacinto of Harding Realty, Inc. in San Diego, Calif., suggests a complete simplification in home décor. “Take down the decorations that make the home your own and keep things simple and generic,” he says. “Buyers may not be able to see past a homeowner’s personal taste and imagine the rooms as if they were decorated in their own style.”
In lieu of décor, let natural light shine in and accentuate your home. Open curtains and blinds to provide potential buyers with an inviting, radiant ambiance that will work much more magic than someone else’s belongings.
Tip: When it comes to home staging, anything smaller than a football is considered clutter. Time to pack up and say bye to your tchotchkes.
3. Fix what needs fixing.
When opening your home to prospective buyers, it’s important that everything be in working order. However, if the house you’re selling is vacant, it’s crucial since there is little else for buyers to focus on. Buyers want to see a turnkey space, not a fixer upper with a laundry list of requisite repairs.
To make this process easier, we recommend checking your home’s interior in full sunlight. This allows you to correct the inevitable and often minor issues and imperfections that you’ll find — and do so before buyers spot them. Be sure to address anything broken or breaking, damaged, squeaking or worn down. A fresh coat of paint on the walls will work wonders, making the interior look clean and new and if the flooring has clearly seen better days, consider replacing it. Though this could mean a hefty chunk of change, it’s likely to help the home sell more quickly.
Tip: If you decide to paint the walls, opt for paint in a neutral color palette. Leave bright colors and accent walls up to the discretion of the buyer.
4. Keep it clean.
Though easier said than done, one of the most important parts of home staging is keeping the house clean and tidy. This is especially true if you’re living in the home while it’s open for showing. However, if you’ve already tackled the task of removing personal items and clutter, keeping the house tidy should be far easier. George also suggests returning all rooms to their original purpose, no matter how creatively you were using them — a dining room should be a dining room, an office should be an office.
Another factor that’s often overlooked is the smells found in your house. Experts on staging homes for sale urge you to make sure your home is free of unappealing odors. That’s especially important in summer months, when odors can be more intense.
Basically, you want potential buyers (better thought of as guests) to be as comfortable as possible. In great part, their home buying decision will be based on how comfortable your home was during their visit. Maintaining a neat, pleasant environment and being liberal with air conditioning can take a buyer’s experience in your home to the next level.
Tip: If you’re working with a professional home stager and your house requires a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing, consider hiring a cleaning service. Your stager should have a contact list of trusted vendors.
5. Consider taking professional photos.
In today’s ever-technical world, looking online on sites like NewHomeSource is a first step for the majority of homebuyers. “Real estate is like a beauty contest,” says George, “and you want your home to stand out from the competition.”
Professional photographers will know the best angles to shoot from and ways to arrange the furniture in order to make rooms look spacious and will use lighting to accent the architecture perfectly.
Tip: Make sure you have plenty of pictures, including several from each room and 360-degree views of the home’s key areas.
6. Leave it to the professionals.
As with most everything, the professionals know best, so if you’re able to, consider working with a professional home stager. You can hire a home stager for a variety of purposes, from assessing your home as-is and suggesting repairs and tweaks that will facilitate a faster sell, to filling an empty house with furniture and artwork.
Professional stagers are also trained in ideal furniture placement, which will not only better showcase the home but will also help navigate buyers throughout the house, says George. “You want the furniture to emphasize the architectural structure of each room, while also directing the buyer in the direction you want them to go.”
Tip: When placing furniture in a room, start with the largest piece and work your way down to the accessories. Subtract anything that’s unnecessary.
We know that selling your current home isn’t as exciting as the process of making your brand-new dream home a reality. However, the simple steps above will put your best foot forward compared to other homes potential buyers will see. Carefully staging your current home for sale can speed your journey to the new home you’re building — and it may even generate more money for you from the sale of your current home.
Jennifer Segelke Jeffers is a freelance writer and editor with more than a decade of editorial experience. The former editor of Austin Monthly Home and Centro Y Sur, she writes about a variety of home-related topics for NewHomeSource.