You’ve decided it’s time to sell your house. Do you know what it takes to get it ready? If you’ve watched any of the buying and selling shows on TV, then you’ve probably seen people enlist the help of professional stagers to prep their home for sale. While that’s definitely an option, bringing in a designer could set you back hundreds of dollars. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of ways you can stage your home yourself and still get great results. Here are some tricks and tips to help you make your house look its best for potential buyers.
Goodbye clutter. This is a big one. It can be one of the hardest things for sellers to do because they are emotionally attached to their stuff (even the clutter). But all the knick-knacks, personal items and family photos can make it hard for a would-be buyer to imagine the house as their space. So pack it up and neatly stack it in the corner of your garage. Or if you don’t have enough room, you might consider renting a small storage unit on a temporary basis. Don’t forget to clear off items from countertops in the kitchens and bathrooms. The more open space, the better. If you have kids, put away any extra toys scattered around the house. Obviously you can’t empty their rooms of all their toys, so make sure that what is left in their rooms is tidy and neatly organized. And keep in mind, clutter doesn’t just mean the small stuff; you may want to put some of your furniture in storage as well. If you were to hire a professional stager, they would likely remove at least half of your furniture. That may seem drastic, but it will make your house look more spacious. So take a look around and decide what needs to go…at least for now.
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Rearrange furniture. Besides removing extra, unnecessary pieces of furniture from your rooms, changing the placement of the furniture that remains can also make the room feel bigger. And while it might seem counter-intuitive, instead of pushing pieces against the walls, do the opposite – float furniture away from the walls. If you can, move chairs and sofas into conversational clusters. It’ll make the space seem more usable and inviting. Make sure that nothing is blocking any of your room’s focal points like fireplaces, decorative banisters, and windows with a view. You don’t want buyers to miss them when they take a tour. And don’t be afraid to move furniture to a different room entirely if it can complete a new look for the room.
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Closets: Open and Organized. Remember, you want people to see your home as open and spacious and that goes for even your smallest spaces too. Don’t discount the closets! Visitors will definitely want to peek inside. Make it work to your advantage and turn them into selling points. Clear out the excess and make sure what is left is well organized. Professionals recommend having 20-30% open space in each closet to help make it feel bigger. The same idea goes for cabinets too.
Fresh paint. If your interior walls haven’t seen a paintbrush in a while, it would work to your advantage to add fresh paint to the rooms that need it most. And if any of your rooms have bright, bold wall colors, those should be first in line for a makeover. Think neutral when selecting paint colors – whites, tans and grays. Here’s a little design trick to keep in mind – paint two smaller adjacent rooms (like a kitchen and breakfast nook) the same color. It will extend your eye and create the illusion of one big space.
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Light it up. Staging isn’t just furniture placement and accessories – lighting is important too. A well-lit room can change the whole feel of it, making it warm and inviting. Change the bulbs in your lights and fixtures to a higher. Some decorators suggest a total of 100 watts per 50 square feet of space. And if you can, try for three types of lighting in a room (especially in bigger rooms). That includes overhead lighting, pendant or reading lighting and accent lighting (like on a table or wall).
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Rooms with a Purpose. If that extra bedroom has been a catchall for storage and junk, it’s time for a transformation. You want visitors to see the potential when they walk into any room in your house. To put it simply, each room should have a clear purpose. So even if you have to buy inexpensive furniture or borrow some from a family member or friend, make sure to turn that junk room into something usable. Make it an office or a guest room.
Clean. Clean. Clean. It doesn’t matter how well your interiors are arranged, if your house is filthy, that’s all buyers will see. Scrub your house from top to bottom, including windows, doors, baseboards, floors, ceiling fans, etc. If you have a big house and the task seems too daunting, hire a professional crew to tackle the big stuff.
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Small Homey Touches. While you want to be sure to empty your home of personal items and clutter, it doesn’t hurt to add a few decorative elements to make your home feel inviting. A vase with fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, maybe a couple accent pillows on the couch and matching towel sets in the bathroom. None of these things will be selling with the house, but they will make the space feel more “homey.” Make sure everything smells nice too. A light air freshener or scent diffuser can help freshen things up. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can even bake cookies or bread in the oven before a showing.
Stage Outside Too! The exterior of your home will be one of the first things would-be buyers see. Besides the general steps to burst curb appeal: washing front windows, plant fresh greenery out front, and pull weeds; some extra touches will help welcome visitors. Add a clean doormat and some potted plants by the front door. Replace burned out porch lights and keep them on in case buyers decide to take a drive-by peek at night before their walk-through. And don’t forget the backyard, too! Even if you only have a small space to work with, a couple chairs and maybe even a little bistro table will help buyers envision a charming, usable space.