You’re getting ready to put your house on the market, and you want to get top dollar. And the sooner you sell it, the fewer mortgage payments you have to fork out, so you want to get this show on the road ASAP. But before you just jam a For Sale sign in the front yard and post some under-lit photos of whatever your house looked like on a Thursday afternoon, please do yourself a favor and don’t do it!
I know you’ve heard it before, and it applies to your house, too:
You only get one chance at a first impression.
Studies have proven time and again the benefits of home staging: more money, faster selling time, yada, yada, yada. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rent all new furniture or create some sort of cutesy theme room like you see in model homes. There are a few basic home staging tricks you can DIY this weekend to get your home ready for listing on Monday. These are minimal investment and BIG impact!
Essential home staging trick #1: Declutter
I realize you don’t think of your home as cluttered. You love having your nick-knacks and family heirlooms out where you can see them. Your collection of ceramic dogs is adorable, and pretty much everyone you know has four remote controls on the coffee table anyway.
I get it. As we go through life, we accumulate things. Some of these things are meaningful, some are meaningless. But they are all things, and before we even realize, they are everywhere.
Having too much stuff sitting around makes a house seem smaller & more cramped to potential buyers, even if you don’t notice it. No buyer is going to jump up and down for a house that feels small and cramped. Instead they will move on to the next house that feels open and airy.
Make your house, that house.
If you aren’t going to need it in the next few months, pack it up (it’ll make moving that much easier if half your stuff is already packed anyway!). Make sure everything you can see has room to breathe. There should be spaces around objects on your bookshelves. Limit the number of items on any given table to four. If any pieces of furniture block doorways, windows or traffic patterns, take them out. Put unsightly utilitarian objects out of sight (like those remote controls). Pack away your collections and be sure your clothes, shoes and toiletry items are neatly tucked away where they belong.
Having less stuff in sight will make your home seem bigger, more inviting and more appealing to those potential buyers.
Essential home staging trick #2: Depersonalize
As an interior designer, I make it a point to inject the personalities of my clients into their home décor. It makes it unique, it makes it comfortable, and it makes it unmistakably them.
Now do the opposite.
If your house feels unmistakably you, how is a buyer going to picture it as theirs? They aren’t. And they will move on. I know this seems silly, and many sellers try to argue this point, but it really is true.
If you have family photos everywhere, the buyer will look at them and picture your family in the house. You don’t want that. You want the buyer to picture their family in the house.
Take down family photos, mementos and anything especially personal. All those little things that reflect your quirky personality, your love of a certain animal, your life adventures, your favorite people or movies have to go.
I have seen buyers pass on a house because the homeowner was a fan of a sports team they didn’t like. Don’t give buyers the opportunity to pass on your house over a silly thing like that.
This brings us to the third step in your weekend staging project…
Essential home staging trick #3: Neutralize
Buyers need to view your house like a blank canvas. They need to picture their own stuff and their own life filling your house. This is hard for a lot of people. It can be difficult to overlook what is already there and imagine how it could be different. (That’s why they hire interior designers!)
But, chances are, they won’t be viewing your home with their designer. So the more neutral everything is, the easier it will be for them to picture their own belongings and style in the space.
And neutralizing goes for both color and style.
When selling your home, beige is your best friend. Not everyone loves beige, but very few people are actually offended by it.
I’m not saying you need to go paint your whole house beige. But if your daughter insisted on painting her room in pink polka dots or you chose your favorite shade of turquoise for the living room, it’s time to paint. Any bright or bold walls & rooms should be painted. That said, if you have walls that are muted or soft colors, you may be able to get away with simply toning them down with neutral furnishings and accessories.
Try neutralizing a red sofa with tan and cream throw pillows and blankets. Swap out the bedding in the “blue” bedroom for a simple neutral pattern. Limit bright colors to small accessories that add interest to a room, but don’t overwhelm.
When it comes to style, avoid anything looking too trendy, too modern, too old-fashioned or too eclectic. Again, buyers likely have different taste than you. Too many antiques may make them view your house as more outdated than it really is. Too much modern art may leave them feeling bewildered and like they just walked out of a museum. You want them to remember the room and the inviting space, not what was in it.
Once you’ve completed these three home staging essentials, you’ll be ready to put up the sign, open your door and start taking offers from buyers who fell in love at first sight.
If you need a helping hand to figure out exactly what should go or stay, or your house needs more than just a do-it-yourself spruce up, contact me about one of my home staging packages. I can help you get your home looking its best so the first impression is beautiful one.