So you’re ready to sell your house, but you’re not sure where to begin. One thing’s for sure: it’s not enough to vacuum, dust, and make sure the kids have tidied their rooms before potential buyers come to call (though cleaning is certainly important). Whether you’re using a Realtor or for-sale-by-owner, you need to stage your house. Here are eight ways to do just that—and ultimately sell your house.
The first thing potential buyers will see when they drive up to your home is your front yard. Don’t neglect your landscaping when you’re trying to up-sell your house—first impressions can be everything. People’s expectations of your home begin in the front yard. If your grass is unkempt, your bushes and trees need trimming, and you have toys, tools, or debris cluttering the lawn, buyers’ perspectives will be jaded immediately.
A Clear, Inviting Front Porch
The second thing interested buyers will see is your front porch or stoop. As they approach your house, they’ll be forming opinions and judgments—you don’t want those opinions to be negative before they’ve even made it through the front door. Clear your front porch of clutter and debris, and make sure that you’ve sprayed it down, arranged any furniture nicely, and laid out a clean welcome mat. Ensure that the doorbell works and that windows are cleaned and paint is fresh. This will give them a taste of what to expect once they get inside.
Clean It Up
Yes, cleaning is the #1 important thing to do when you’re trying to sell your house. The first thing people will notice when they look around is whether or not you’ve vacuumed and mopped and if the toilets and showers are sparkling. But don’t stop at the basic Saturday morning cleaning list. Detail your house. Scrub the baseboards, the window tracks, and the insides of your kitchen cabinets. Not everyone will care if the little things are done or not, but you can never be too careful, especially with people who have expressed more than casual interest.
De-cluttering is part of making your house presentable, but it’s more than just picking up kids’ toys and straightening the bookshelf. Organize the garage, office space, and even the refrigerator. Bedrooms piled with “stuff,” even if it’s organized and put away, can make a potential buyer feel more at home. If you need to pack a few boxes of possessions away into a storage unit for a few weeks, do so. But do whatever it takes to let your home breathe.
An Inviting Atmosphere
Create an inviting atmosphere that will make people feel like they’re coming home. People know that they won’t be the first to own your house, of course, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to pretend the house already belongs to them. So do everything you can to help them forget that you live there. Put out new bars of soap and clean towels in the bathrooms. Tuck away any signs of extreme personality quirks, make the beds just right, and turn on some soft, soothing music.
Walk the Line between Personal and Neutral
You want people to feel at home in your house, but it’s a fine line between helping them forget that you live there and making the house seem sterile. Some agents advise taking all family photos off the walls, decorating in neutral colors, and even putting away exotic or unusual pieces of art or furniture.You don’t want to leave the house bare, however, and leaving a few family portraits up can make the house feel more like a home and less like a hotel room. Don’t eliminate your personality from your home, but if you have an unusual décor style, consider toning it down a little for the few weeks your house is on the market.
There’s nothing quite as detrimental to a successful staging as unpleasant odors. If you have pets, consider steam-cleaning the carpet before your guests arrive. Rid the furniture and flooring of pet hair, and hide away pet toys and treats. Open the windows, spray a subtle air freshener (you don’t want the smell to be too overpowering), and take out all the garbage well in advance.
Open Closet Doors
People want to see inside things. They want to open cupboards and drawers, look inside closets, and visualize where they would store all of their stuff were they to purchase your house. Make this easier by cleaning and organizing your closets and throwing the doors open wide. Inviting them to make themselves more at home will help them better visualize their own possessions in their potential home.
Looking for a house isn’t easy, but make it as simple as you can for the people who are interested in your home. Whether you own real estate in London, Ontario, New York, or Houston, staging is the same—it’s a means to an end. It might be time-consuming and exhausting, but once your house sells, it will all be worth it.
Guest Contributor: Melanie Hargrave and her family recently bought a new house with the help of Realocation. She learned a lot about how to stage a house in her hunt for a new home and wanted to share some of her findings. She loves spending time with her husband and daughters, being outdoors, and playing sports