The phrase “staging a house” is a new one that is being tossed around all the time now in real estate circles. But the fact is, people have been doing this for a long time. We all want our house to look the best when we go to sell it, so that we have someone interested enough to buy it and pay top dollar for it. If your house has been sitting on the market without generating any interest, try some of these ideas.
Leave your ego out of it: If it’s not selling, changes need to be made. You may think the ten-foot wall of knives on magnet strips in the kitchen proclaim you as a great chef and collector, but someone else may think it looks like a butcher or a serial killer lives there; Get rid of it. A decorating idea that was great for you may not be great for everyone else. Remember, you don’t want to live there anymore, you want someone else to want to live there.
Get an honest opinion and fresh eyes: Find someone, whether a realtor, a friend who is not afraid to tell it like it is, or your mother-in-law, and have them go through your house. If you look at everything in there every day, you may not see something someone else does, like the clutter in the office, or the scratches on the laundry room door.
Clean! You don’t want prospective home buyers saying “What’s that smell?” when they walk through your house. Clean it from top to bottom, or have a cleaning service come in and do it for you. Dust everything, including those hard to reach light fixtures, scour the bathtub, make the toilets shine, sweep up all the dog hair and dust bunnies, and remove stains from the carpets. Then once you think you’ve done a good job, go back to those fresh eyes and honest opinions and have them point out what you missed.
First impressions count: From the exterior, make sure there are not dead flowers in the flower pots, or an overgrown lawn. This will only attract buyers who are looking to lowball and pick up a cheap property. The first impression extends to inside the front door: What is the first thing they will see when they open the door? Make it something pleasing, such as a clean side table with a vase of fresh flowers; remember no bad smells!
De-clutter the house. Remove photos, knickknacks, collectibles, toys, etc. Make bookshelves only half full with books, and place a potted plant or decorative box or the like in the open spaces. This also extends to closets: If you have 15 bath towels crammed in the linen closet, put ten of them in storage. You want your closets to look spacious; You should be able to see a little of the back wall in the closet.
Think neutrals: Yes, you may have to paint. Get rid of the 80s mauve and blue colour scheme in the bedroom, and the 90s hunter green colour in the dining room. Make your house a fresh palette of taupe and creams, which will give the house a more serene and restful look.
Don’t advertise your personality: Take the giant zodiac star chart off the wall; not everyone believes in astrology. Put away the photo of you shaking hands with the mayor; Not everyone thinks he is a great guy. If people don’t feel the same way as you, it will turn them off to the house. You want a buyer to be able to picture themselves in your house and not feel like they are intruders, or in a house that is not speaking to them. Make your house as blank a canvas as you can and let them imagine what they will.
Keep pets out: Have a friend keep any pets; Not just dogs and cats, but gerbils, birds, even fish (again, remember to watch out for smells). Once the pets are gone, get rid of the food bowls, litter boxes, and so forth.
Let the light in: Open the curtains, turn on the lights, put a fire in the fireplace; Make it feel comfortable and bright.
Open walking spaces: People don’t want to buy a home that is small and crowded. When you declutter, don’t forget about furniture. Take out bigger pieces and extra sideboards etc., that aren’t really needed. You don’t want anyone to have to jockey their way around the house during a showing or bump their shins on your magazine stand.
When you think you are all done, bring those honest opinions back in and let them tell you what they really think, and then follow through. You want the best opportunity to sell that house, and sell it for what it’s worth.