No one is saying your house is a mess, but when it comes time to sell, your house has got to be over-the-top clean. Not only clean but when you’re preparing a house to sell, you’ve got to stage every aspect. Staging a home for sale includes organizing, cleaning, and designing your property so that it wiggles its way into the hearts and daydreams of potential buyers. Buyers have options; they look at houses and walk away, but something trips a trigger to make a house-hunter say, “Oooh, I want this one.” That reaction comes, in part, due to the home’s location, price, and architectural style – but also due to staging. There are multiple steps to take in getting your property show-ready. Here’s a complete guide to staging your home for sale.
Eliminating Excess | Clearing the Clutter
Whether you’ve lived in your home for 20 months or 20 years, it’s surprising how much stuff can accumulate. People stuff things into drawers, into filing cabinets, into closets, cabinets, cupboards, and bins. Homeowners load up the garages, attics, and – in fact – may have chosen to move only because the house was too small for all the stuff! Even if you’re upsizing your home, you’ve got to downsize your things.
The easiest way to start is to tackle one room at a time. Otherwise, you find yourself paralyzed by overwhelming stress and the feeling that you’ll never get it all done.
Before you start in a room, gather a portable file for pertinent documents, a box for storing photos, a trash bag or bin for discarding rubbish, and three totes. The first tote is for things you need to keep out and use between now and the time you move. The second tote is for things you will still need later but can live without for the time being. The third tote is for items that you can donate or sell at a yard sale.
Touch every item in the room. Look through closets, drawers, boxes, bins, and under the bed. Be realistic as you sort your belongings into their appropriate bag, box, or tote. As challenging as it may be, try not to get sucked too deep into the realm of nostalgia or a task that should take you a couple of hours could end up taking weeks.
Have a plan for the items in your bins. If you’re keeping things, remove them from the tote and arrange them neatly in the space. If you’re keeping some things but don’t need them until after the move, then pack them in an organized fashion in clearly labeled boxes. If you’re going to donate or sell some belongings, have a designated area where you can tidily store them until you can give them away or sell them.
When you complete the process of decluttering one room, then move to the next until you have sorted through and reduced the contents of every room in your home.
Pack Up Your Personality | Creating a Neutral Zone
It’s easy to have overlooked some items during the decluttering phase. Framed wall photos of your loved ones aren’t considered clutter. You don’t think of your trinkets, treasures, and collectibles as clutter. The books on your shelves, the movies in the case, the crayon colored artwork pinned to the fridge with a butterfly magnet – these are all items that make you feel cozy, secure, and “at home.” But the goal here is to allow someone else to feel as if they could make your house their home. Not only is it important to clear away your things so others can envision themselves occupying the space, but also because some items may be offensive to some people.
The United States is a diverse country with a multitude of belief systems. A person practicing one religion may react negatively to symbols from other faiths. An individual with a strong political affiliation may be put off by objects that portray a different mindset. Although you can’t and certainly shouldn’t change who you are to please others or pretend to be something you’re not, it’s perfectly acceptable to respect diversity and make room for future homeowners to practice their ways. The best way to conquer this goal is to store away with love and care your precious belongings until you can proudly display them in your new home.
Neutralizing the space also includes paint, wall paper, and carpet. There may be nothing wrong with purple wallpaper stamped with gold pineapples, but that’s a bold style and may not suit would-be-buyers. Unfortunately, people shopping for houses fail to recognize their ability to modify – to take down that wall paper and replace it with something that fits their aesthetic. Nonetheless, you don’t want a pineapple to cost you the sale of your home. Wall colors and carpets should be soft, warm tones like beige, light gray, sage green, or other subtle hues.
Say Goodbye to Bulk
Large, bulky, or over-stuffed furniture – or too many pieces of furniture, can make a room seem much smaller than it is. Keep what you need between now and the time you move, and store the rest safely out of sight. Hutches, china cabinets, extra dining room chairs, recliners, or other husky items will swallow up a room. Once you’ve stored the bulk away, arrange what’s left into conversation areas away from the walls.
Be Security and Safety Conscious
You don’t know who will be walking through the halls of your home, opening closets, and browsing your space. Do not leave valuables in the home during showings. If you’re a gun-owner, remove guns from the property before showings.
The Cleaning Fairy
Sadly, there’s no such thing as a cleaning fairy, so you’re either going to have to do the job yourself, or hire a cleaning company. Your house is about to get a deep-clean. This deep cleanse goes way beyond creating a tidy environment by giving the house a sponge bath. We’re talking about washing walls, scrubbing baseboards, wiping down ceiling vents, bleaching toilets, disinfecting sinks (and the under-sink areas), dusting ceiling fans, and leaving no stone unturned.
Remember, clean sells. You can dress the house up any way you want, but if it looks and smells dirty, it loses its allure.
Getting the house spic and span, shiny from top to bottom is hard, but keeping it that way between now and moving day may be more difficult. It takes focus, especially if your house has multiple members. Make the beds every day. Keep dishes out of the sink. Sweep, mop, and vacuum floors. Dust. Put toys away. There’s no way to predict when the right buyer might walk through your front door.
Don’t Forget the Outside
You were probably just starting to feel like you were almost done with the staging, but the outside of the home is every bit as important as the inside, if not more. Visual appeal is a magnet. The first impression someone gets from your house is going to last. If they look at the exterior of your home and your yard and see fix-it projects and repairs, they’re going to feel disenchanted. However, when a buyer sees move-in-ready with charm, they get excited to see the rest of the home.
The same as you did with the inside, begin staging the outside of the house by removing clutter. Pick up any trash, put away bikes or toys, and store the lawn ornaments. If you have patio furniture, arrange it the same as you did with the indoor furniture – remove the bulk and organize what’s left in social areas where people can sit and chat – or imagine themselves doing so.
With the yard cleared of clutter, it’s time to clean and repair. If you have torn or bent window screens, replace them. If the wood on the porch is wobbly, secure it. If the doors squeak, oil them. If the paint is chipped, add a fresh coat. If the vinyl is dirty, power-wash the home’s exterior. Wash the windows.
Next, tend to the landscaping. Pull any weeds, trim any hedges, mow the lawn if there is one. Consider planting vibrant flowers near the doors, windows, and walkways.
When buyers view the outside of your home, they should be tickled and excited to see what’s inside.
Major Repairs and Little Fixes
So the bulk of the work is done. Congratulations. Now, take another walk through your home and see what catches your eye. Are the electrical sockets cracked? A few bucks and a screw driver can fix that problem. Are the cabinet handles and drawer pulls in the kitchen dated? A small investment can upgrade that kitchen to feel shiny and new just by adjusting the fittings. Is there rust on the doorknobs? That’s another easy fix that could drastically improve not only how buyers perceive your home, but also the value.
If there is anything faulty with any of your home’s major systems – the heating and air, water heater, plumbing, electrical, roofing, pests – these things will be found during appraisals and inspections which could put a serious kink in your plans to sell your home. As a matter of fact, even if a buyer has submitted an offer that you’ve accepted, they can still opt out if significant problems present as deal-breakers before closing.
Using white linens in the bathroom gives a spa-like feeling, and makes the room feel cleaner. Remove wet or sticky bars of soap from the shower or bath areas. Store tooth brushes out of sight. Bathrooms get a lot of attention from house-hunters, so the more fresh and vibrant the bathrooms feel, the better the chances are you’ll receive an offer. Use a linen scented candle or air freshener for a crisp, clean scent.
Open all of the window coverings to let in as much natural light as possible, and to showcase any views the house may have.
You want to cater to buyers and make them feel welcome, and to do that, you play to the senses. Fresh baked goods, or the aroma of fresh baked goods, almost always make someone feel good. There’s a sweet excitement when cookies are coming out of the oven. When you know you’re hosting an open house or your real estate agent is giving someone a tour, bake up a batch of cookies, or even put out a plate of store bought cookies and light a sugar cookie candle nearby.
In the kitchen, make sure the counters are clear, except a bowl of fresh fruit, live herb plants, or a vase of fresh flowers.
Don’t Forget the Pets
Not everyone is pet-friendly, and some people have pet allergies. Before you decided to sell your house, a welcome mat indicating that dogs run the house may have been cute, but for someone who is allergic to dogs or doesn’t like animals, that rug could be a total turn off. People don’t want to see clusters of dog hair, smell a litter box, or be otherwise “inconvenienced” by the pets of the house. Do what you can to minimize the presence of pets. On days when you’re showing your home, make arrangements for the pets to be somewhere safe away from home. Not only can it be uncomfortable for house-hunters, but it can also be traumatic for the household furry and feathered members to have strangers parading through the environment.
It’s also a good idea for you not to be home during showings. You may not be comfortable hearing people openly express their opinions, and they may not feel comfortable with you being there as they consider making your house their own.
The goal is to romance and woo would-be buyers into making an offer on your house. Getting the house show-ready can make it more appealing to buyers, hold higher value, and create a less stressful environment for you as you prepare to move on to your next adventure.
Call The Wright Choice Team today at 804-307-2589 to tour available homes for sale in the Chesterfield County area.