You can never undo a bad first impression.
Buyers make a decision on whether they like a home in the first minute or two. If you want your home to be one that makes a buyer’s short list, you need to do everything you can to make it appealing from the moment that they walk through the door.
Once your home goes on the market, it stops being your ‘Home’ and becomes a ‘House’. Your goal is to present your home in a way that will make it as appealing as possible to the most buyers.
You need to highlight the best features of your home and de-emphasize its flaws.
It’s not about decorating, but actually turning your home into a model so that it will appeal to the broadest range of prospective buyers. The goal is to make people feel like they could live there, and the best way to do this is to “neutralize” the surroundings.
Top 10 Tips for Staging Your Home:
1. Clean out Closets and Clutter:
Give away or pack up toys, linens, and small kitchen appliances to store off site. Pack away the out of season clothing to make the master closet look less jam packed. Buyers are forgiving of storage boxes neatly tucked away in a garage or basement.
2. Focus on Rooms that have the Most Impact:
The kitchen, master bedroom, family room and finished basements have the most impact. Other rooms matter, but buyers will be more forgiving in secondary rooms.
3. Wait to Come on the Market until the Entire House Looks Good:
Even if you are in a rush to get your house sold, it is critical that you take the days or weeks (or even months) to have your home ready to make a great first impression on day one. Your very best traffic will be the buyers that have been watching and waiting for a new listing. Don’t lose them by not being ready.
4. Eliminate Items that Might make Buyers Uncomfortable:
Are you a hunter? Extremely religious? Have toys for your pets throughout the house?
Pack away the things that might just turn off that one buyer that would have made an offer. Family photos are fine, but pet pictures should be packed away. Deer heads and religious mementos should be packed away and saved for your next home.
5. Make your Home Look like a Display Home:
The marketing experts that work for new home builders and furniture stores have spent a lot of time researching what buyers want. Take advantage of their insights. Take note on how they arrange the books and nick knacks on the bookshelves. Pay attention to the little touches that they add to bathrooms, the lack of clutter and furniture arrangements that make rooms look large rather than cramped.
6. Remove Excess Furniture:
Just because you want a couch, love seat and two recliners in the family room, doesn’t mean that the furniture makes the room look flattering. Drag the excess pieces to the basement, or rent a storage pod until the house sells.
7. Remove Large Collections:
Collections just come across as clutter to people that don’t have the same passion as you for Mickey Mouse or frogs. Feel free to leave a few out, but the rest should be packed away.
Anything valuable should be out of sight and out of reach of toddler’s hands. Yes, some people will bring their children with them and children tend to touch things on low tables.
8. Kitchens Should be Spotless:
Kitchen counters should be completely empty other than a coffeepot and one or two small items.
Refrigerator magnets and your children’s art needs to be removed. Remember the display house…go take a look at Home Depot’s kitchen displays. Buyers want to see lots of counter space, and the best way to do this is to remove everything you can from the counters. The less in the room, the bigger everything looks.
9. Clean Clean Clean:
As hard as it may be, the house should be ready for a showing every time you walk out the door.
Make all of the beds (including in the teenager’s rooms!) every day. Do the dishes or at least throw them into the dishwasher. Vacuum on a regular basis, wipe down kitchen counters and make sure the dirty clothes end up in a hamper.
10. Open the Blinds:
Sunlight makes a world of difference in making a home inviting. Add extra lamps in dark rooms or corners, and make sure that there is a lamp near the door or on a switched outlet if there isn’t an overhead light.
The best thing you can do is bring in another set of eyes. Your real estate agent should walk through every room with you and give you detailed suggestions on how to make the house show better. If you are selling on your own, bring in a friend or neighbor and ask them to be brutally honest.