Making your home appealing to buyers doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Sure, there’s some work involved, but once your house sells you’ve moving anyway, right? Think of this as a jumpstart on that process. And remember, in today’s competitive real estate market, these affordable home staging tips could help your house sell faster, and for a higher price!
In recent years, home staging, or house fluffing, has become a key real estate concept. It simply means getting a home ready to sell. The purpose of staging a home is to make the space as appealing as possible to buyers. In general, this means a clean, uncluttered space with a neutral style. Home staging can also maximize your home’s unique selling features, and it creates a great first impression.
1. Get an objective opinion.
Sometimes we get blinded by our own emotional attachment to objects, including our homes. A crucial part of staging a home is looking past those emotions to see your house the way a potential buyer would. Find a friend you can trust to (kindly) give you brutally honest feedback about things that will help make your home more appealing to a buyer. (That objectivity will also make the next two steps easier.)
2. De-personalize the space.
A buyer needs to be able to picture their family and belongings in the home. Remember, it’s not going to be yours for much longer anyway. So, pack up the family photos, put away the trophies, and take down the kids’ artwork. Also consider items that have a strong style that may not appeal to everyone’s taste. An entire room decked out in your favorite football team’s colors and memorabilia, for example, might be a bit much for a buyer. Especially if they root for another team. By the same token, an overly-girly master bedroom or kitchen won’t appeal to everyone.
3. Declutter ruthlessly.
Having a lot of “stuff” sitting on counters or hanging on walls is distracting to buyers and makes the space seem smaller. Think of it as the start of your moving process: Pack up your knick knacks and collectibles. Clear off counters and shelves. This goes for furniture, too - limit each wall to only two pieces. In the living room, for example, it could be a couch and end table. This might be a good time to consider renting a storage space to stow boxes and extra furniture until you’re in your new home.
4. But don’t stash stuff in closets or drawers.
When people look at homes for sale, they open closets, and they may even open cabinet drawers. It wouldn’t make a good impression if a buyer opens a closet and gets buried under a coat avalanche. Decluttering your closets will show off the amount of storage space in your home, which is always a plus.
5. Move and repurpose furniture.
It may seem counterintuitive, but pulling furniture away from the walls can make a room look bigger. “Float” your furniture by creating pairings or groupings of chairs with an end table, for example. Also, consider moving furniture from one room into another and using it in a different way, to show buyers how to make use of an awkward or unused space. An unused desk could be moved to an alcove to create a study area, for example.
6. Let the sun shine in.
If you’ve got heavy drapes, open them and let some natural light into your home. It will make the space seem more inviting to buyers. Got an ugly view outside? Leave a sheer curtain pulled across the window.
7. Consider a fresh coat of paint.
At least in the main living area, freshly-painted walls will make your home seem bright and newer. Also take a look at your front door – could it use some new paint too? Of course, you don’t want to get too crazy with paint color, but you’re not stuck with white or beige, either. Think about warm neutrals, like greens and grays, in addition to more traditional tan colors.
8. Clean, clean, clean.
This means a deep, detailed clean. Clean carpets, rugs and window treatments. Don’t forget to wipe down baseboards, door frames and window sills. Check the corners for cobwebs. And clean the windows inside and out. Don’t forget to replace any burned-out light bulbs. If you have pets, clean up their hair and make sure there are no pet odors in the house. And on the subject of smells, your home should smell pleasant, but don’t go overboard – if a buyer is sensitive to strong smells, they won’t be able to spend much time looking at your house.
9. Finish repairs or deferred maintenance.
If you’ve got any unfinished home improvement projects, now is the time to complete them. Also, take care of the maintenance and repairs you’ve been putting off, like fixing the gutters or replacing a broken board in the deck. If your buyer gets a home inspection, these items will be found and need to be done before the home closes anyway. Taking care of known issues ahead of time reduces the amount of repairs a buyer could ask you to make.
10. Don’t forget the outside.
A power washer can do wonders for dingy siding and concrete driveways and sidewalks, and they’re relatively inexpensive to rent. Make sure your trees and bushes are trimmed and the lawn is mowed or sidewalks are shoveled, depending on the season. Adding a couple of potted flowers to the porch is always a nice touch too. Take a look at your house numbers – are they easily visible? If not, consider replacing them. Don’t forget to tidy up the back yard and pick up after pets. If you’ve got a fire pit or water feature, make sure they’re clean and ready for use. And, staging a table and chairs on the patio or deck will help potential buyers picture spending summer evenings there.