Staging Your Home

Conditions critical to attracting buyers

When real estate agents talk about staging your home, they're referring to a method of decorating that is designed to showcase the home's best assets, impress buyers and sell quickly for the highest possible price.

Because not all sellers stage their homes, especially homes in lower price ranges, you'll be at an advantage if you do.

Note: The some of the following suggestions should be taken seriously while others may be too expensive for your budget. We suggest that you consult with us before spending money you can not afford to part with. We'll be happy to help you prioritize staging plan within your budget.


Why Home Staging Is Important

Buyers aren't just looking for a structure to inhabit – they're looking to fulfill their dreams and improve their lifestyles. Staging helps sell those dreams and creates a more emotional purchase that can generate more money for the seller.

Staging is also beneficial because potential buyers don't want to see work that needs to be done upon moving into the home. For every problem they see, they'll deduct its cost from their offering price. If they see too many problems, they'll pass altogether.

Even though you've decided to move, you don't want to be indifferent about the property you're parting with and settle for a lower selling price or a longer marketing period than you need to.


Staging How To

While there are plenty of room-specific staging ideas, if you're on a limited budget, it's best to emphasize the home's best features and appeal to the widest possible range of buyers. Focus on the areas that will make the biggest difference in your home's selling price.

These include the exterior and entryway (both heavily impact a buyers' first impressions), the living room, kitchens and bathrooms, the master bedroom and outdoor living space, such as a back patio. The following techniques can and should be employed in as many rooms of the house as you can afford and have time for:

In the kitchen, potential buyers love to see new appliances that come with the home, but if you can't do that, make the ones you have spotless. No one wants to see splattered spaghetti sauce, films of grease or piles of crumbs in their potential new home. Likewise, make sure your bathroom sparkles, from the corners of the tub to the sink drain to that spot behind the toilet you don't think anyone can see. Your goal should be to make everything look new.

There are two major problems with clutter. One is that it distracts buyers from your home's features. The other is that it makes it seem like the home doesn't have enough storage space. Put away knickknacks. Keep in mind that buyers will be interested in your closet space, so tossing everything into the closet to hide it away may not be the best strategy.

Remove Odors
Pets, kids, what you ate for dinner last night, a mildew-covered bathroom and many other conditions can make your home smell. You are probably immune to your home's smell, so you'll need to have a friend or neighbor help you out with this one. Inexpensive tricks for ridding a home of odors and giving it an inviting aroma include baking cinnamon-coated apples in the oven, burning vanilla-scented candles, or throwing some slice-and-bake cookies in the oven. It's also a good idea to grind half a lemon in the garbage disposal to remove sink odors. While you could use a spray to deodorize your home, it might give it a cheap, institutional bathroom smell, which is hardly the image you're going for. If you're a smoker and you normally smoke indoors, start limiting your smoking to outside the home and take extra steps to deodorize indoors. Finally, don't forget to take out the trash.

Define Rooms
Make sure each room has a single, defined purpose and every space within every room has a purpose so that buyers will see how to maximize the home's square footage. A bedroom should appear uncluttered, comfortable and roomy. An office should appear efficient and relaxing. A finished basement can become an entertainment room, and a junk room can be transformed into a guest bedroom. Even if the buyer won't want to use the room for the same purpose, the important thing is for them to how much usable space your home offers.

Wallpaper is very personal, so it's unlikely that a potential buyer will like your selection. In fact, one of the most frequent buyer objections is the need to remove wallpaper. Your best bet is to tear it down and paint the walls instead. Don't even think about painting over the wallpaper – it will look shabby and send red flags for the buyer about all the work he or she will have to do later.

No one wants to live with dirty, stained carpet, especially when someone else made it that way. Linoleum is passé and looks cheap. Though pricey, hardwood floors add value and elegance to a home. They are also low-maintenance, provide great long-term value and are perfect for buyers with allergies. In other words, they appeal to almost everyone, and if not, they're easily carpeted over by the buyer and preserved for the next owner.

Take advantage of your home's natural light. Open all curtains and blinds when showing your home. Add supplemental lighting where necessary. Outdated or broken light fixtures can be cheaply and easily replaced. If you think your existing fixtures are fine, make sure to dust them, clean off any grime and empty out the dead bugs.

Wall and Ceiling Cracks
Cracks in the walls or ceiling that you've become used to seeing are a red flag to buyers. Most know little about residential home construction so they immediately assume that the home is structurally unsound. Buyers rarely understand that cracks are natural occurence in plaster, drywall and concrete as lumber dries and settling occurs.

Repairing obvious drywall cracks is relatively inexpensive and can lead to a high offer price.

Water Stains
Many homes have brown ceiling stains that are the result of a leaking roof or bathroom fixture. Long after the cause has been repaired the damage is still evident. For whatever reason, the buyers often conclude that the problem still exists.

Repainting a ceiling is a cheap and easy way to elimiate "red flags" in the mind of buyers.

Your home's exterior will be the first impression buyers get and may even determine their interest in viewing the inside. Make sure your lawn, hedges, trees and other plants are well-maintained and neatly pruned and eliminate any weeds. Windows look better when they're washed. Power washing your home's exterior can make it look freshly painted with less effort and expense. Make sure the sidewalk leading up to the house is clear and clean. Purchase new doormats for the front and back doors. Creating some sort of outdoor living space in the backyard, such as a deck or patio with outdoor furniture, is way to use the exterior of your home to its greatest advantage.