How do I stage my home for showings?

Summary: Getting your home ready for showings can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s totally worth your time to do it. You can do this by making sure a home is cleaned, decluttered, bright, and smells good are just a few things that sellers will want to do to prepare their home for showings.


Why It’s Important

Staging may be one of the most beneficial projects you take on, even with the initial investment of time and money. A house that is well prepared is likely to sell faster than its competition. The goal of staging is to have potential buyers to walk into your personal sanctuary and envision themselves living there. The thing is, buyers aren’t looking for a house, they’re looking for a home– one that will improve their lifestyle– so it’s important to fix up your home so the buyers see a new home and not a giant to-do list. You can almost guarantee the amount the buyer offers is directly related to the amount of work they anticipate having to do after the sale.


How It’s Done

Staging your home is all about highlighting its best features, and demonstrating attractive uses of your space without spending too much money or time. It’s not a far cry from what you might already be used to doing in your home anyway (assuming you already clean and decorate!), however, there is a major difference between styling for your personal preferences and staging to sell.

We could go from here to the moon with room-specific staging tips, but the intention here is to leave you with a big-picture view of your home that allows you to focus on general improvements that will positively impact your selling price. To start, your landscape is the buyer’s first impression of the home, so it would be a great place to start making improvements. From there, you can make your way into each room and implement the items listed below in the next section.


What To Do


1. Clean & Declutter
Cleaning and decluttering your home just might be the most obvious task on the list, which makes it a great place to start. You’d be surprised at how many people neglect their clutter and hygiene when placing their home on the market. This step is truly as simple as cleaning the whole house and making sure all of your belongings have their own place. Though, it does go without saying– the floors and counters are NOT the place for trash and clothing (a little reminder never hurts!).


2. Depersonalize
One of the key steps in the home staging process is making sure your home is depersonalized. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to think of your home as the buyer’s, not yours. Depersonalization is about removing the presence of ownership and personal taste from your decor. This allows buyers to see the home as their own, and envision themselves moving in. So how do you depersonalize your home? This means removing family photos, trophies and placards, and even your kids’ refrigerator art (I know, it sounds heartless). Some may find this step to be emotionally difficult, but keep in mind, the buyer is buying your house, not your personal items.


3. Deodorize
Have you ever caught a whiff of someone who seems unaware that they smell like their dog, cigarette smoke, a damp basement, or worse? The truth is, certain smells lose their distinction when your nose gets used to it, and there may be smells lurking in your home that you’re not aware of. So, it may be beneficial to have a trusted friend or family member come over and let you borrow their nose (it should be someone who doesn’t enter the home frequently) and allow them to give you the cold, hard truth. Aside from ousting your unpleasant aromas, there are a few tricks in the hat that can add some pleasant aromas once you’ve gotten rid of the bad ones. Some of the classics include boiling vanilla extract and / or cinnamon sticks on the stove, fresh-baked bread or cookies, and candles. Just make sure not to over-do it.


4. Show Purpose
This step can be somewhat abstract, but is a powerful selling tool. Making sure each of your rooms have a single, defined, and specific purpose is a great way to demonstrate the value of your home. Go through each room in your home and ask, “Is it obvious that each room has purposeful space that is intentionally being utilized?”. It may help to have a friend or family member’s input on this as well. When each room has an obvious purpose, buyers are able to see how they can take advantage of the home’s square footage. Do you have a spare bedroom that has accumulated a bunch of “stuff” over the years? Turn it into a functional office space or guest bedroom. Finished basement not looking purposeful? Turn it into a rec room or den. Even a blasé breakfast nook can be transformed into a mini coffee bar.


5. Re-Wallpaper / Paint
It’s been a long-proven secret that staging your home with color and decor will yield more interest than a home with no color or decor. Having said that, it’s necessary to also point out that just because you love the lime green color in your bathroom doesn’t mean your potential buyers will. It’s been found that warmer and somewhat neutral colors work best when staging your home to sell. These colors tend to appeal to a larger group and leave buyers with a “home” feeling that could result in a lucrative offer. Just make sure you don’t paint over wallpaper, it’s tacky and a big pain for the next owner!


6. Adjust Lighting
Besides color, light is one of the biggest factors in our emotional experience, kind of like the difference between being under the cold halogen lights at the dentist office vs. the cozy, dim lights at a fancy restaurant. One of the best ways to give your home a light treatment is to take advantage of your home’s natural light. Curtains and blinds should be open, and light fixtures that are broken or out-of-date should be replaced. Replacing your light bulbs with “daylight” bulbs can also be an added benefit since the tone is more neutral and familiar.


7. Arrange Furniture
There’s a general misconception that furniture should be situated against the walls, leaving the floor space open. While this may be practical for a family with small children, it makes the seating arrangement feel kind of like an awkward middle school dance (guys and girls up against opposing walls, each waiting for the other to make a move). Depending on the layout of your space and the size and shape of your pieces, moving the furniture away from the walls into more of a conversational arrangement will feel more functional and cozy. You’ll also want to make sure walkways are obvious and that there’s still plenty of room for traffic.


8. Repair Damaged Walls and Ceilings
Blemishes and nail holes are all a part of owning a home, and should be addressed if you’re planning to sell. DO NOT hide such blemishes by hanging pictures or laying down a rug. Repairing nail holes and blemishes can be done rather quickly and affordably depending on the nature of the damage. If you have cracks in your walls or ceilings, it’s often an indication to inspectors and buyers that there’s an issue with the foundation. It’s important if you have cracking issues with your foundation to repair them or at least notify potential buyers. If your foundation is structurally sound according to the inspector, yet the foundation looks questionable, it is worth repairing them so buyers don’t get the wrong impression.


9. Tidy-up Your Exterior
The exterior of your home is the very first impression your buyer receives about what to expect, and arguably, you could say that it is the determining most sales– whether the buyer realizes it or not. By keeping your landscape trimmed and well-maintained, and investing into your curb appeal, you can set a positive anticipation for what’s inside. Power washing your home’s exterior (i.e. siding, patio, deck), clearing walkways, cleaning outdoor furniture, and cleaning your pool (if you have one) are a great start.


10. Add Some Life
Including fresh flowers and greenery throughout your home can really change things and add a bit of “life” to the experience– literally. Most of life is found in the little things, so thoughtful placement of amenities such as fresh towels in the bathroom or playing some lite instrumental music in the common area can enhance the overall showing experience for potential buyers.

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