Home Staging tip #1: Attitude
Before you do anything, you have to stop thinking of your house as a HOME and start thinking about it as an investment. Probably the most important investment you have made so far, you want to get the largest possible return on it, so you can move on to bigger and better things, right?
Home Staging tip #2: Best photos are everything!
With less time and more technology available to almost anyone, chances are that potential buyers are first searching the Internet for the properties they might be interested in. You need to have the best possible pictures available on the Internet, as that "first look" might determine whether the prospects will want to visit your property or will jump over it. These photos have to impress and generate an emotional desire from the potential buyer to see the property "live". If you don't have pictures that stand out from the others, you are probably missing out on dozens, if not hundreds of potential buyers. So be sure to consult your realtor on where and how they market online...
Home Staging tip #3: Curb appeal
Curb appeal (or, lack of thereof) can deter a visitor from wanting to go in - have you ever driven by a house for sale, disliking it from the outside and leaving without even giving it a chance? Avoid this situation happening to you:
- Walk around the house and ensure that the path and the perimeter of the house are clear and no foreign objects, such as toys, bicycles, garbage cans or unused building materials are visible.
- Pay attention to your bushes, vines and plants and trim them, as necessary. Keep the lawn cut and watered, leaves raked or snow removed (depending on the time of the year). Put a planter/flower pot at the entrance, if the time of the year allows.
- Scrub and wash the front porch, the door as well as the trim, the mailbox and polish the street number.
- Put all small items away from the patio/deck in order to not distract the eye from the available space.
Home Staging tip #4: Make space
Remember, the buyers want to see space, above anything else. You want the visitors to focus on the house and not on your stuff. A cluttered house gives the impression of being poorly maintained and looks smaller than it really is. Go through the house, room by room, and take everything out but the essentials - decide what to throw out, what to donate and what to put in storage. Some areas to pay particular attention to:
- Floors - please, no piles on the floor anywhere.
- Horizontal surfaces - take everything off, then put only a few items back. No knick knacks, photo displays, large collections, magazines, bottles/jars, small appliances and anything else that might distract the eye from the beautiful features of your property. Remember to clean the kitchen and bathroom countertops as well - if you have not used an item for three months or you can do without it for the next three - take it off and put it away.
- Book shelves - put your books and magazines upright and in order.
- Closets - every closet has to be cleaned out, maybe more than once, until they all look spacious and well organized.
- Garage - yes, even the garage has to be decluterred and emptied out as much as possible - the visitors will be considering how much space is available in your garage, so show them.
- Furniture and wall hangings - too much furniture impedes a good traffic flow in the house and makes it look smaller, so the golden rule is "Less is more"! The same applies to art and accessories - if in doubt, take them off and keep only one or two items per wall.
De-cluttering is a big task and it might be daunting. But, in any case, you will have to do it before you move, so start now and you will feel better.
Home Staging tip #5: Clean and Fix
As far as the Home Staging tips go, maybe I should have put this one first. It seems obvious, but you would be surprised to see how many people neglect this one. If you are not able or willing to do it yourself, hire a professional. We recommend to walk through each room and make two lists - one list for cleaning and the other for fixing. Pay particular attention to the entrance, as it is the first space the visitors will see, kitchen, and bathrooms. Do not forget the walls and the ceilings (cobwebs!), windows, and appliances. If you have carpets and they have not been shampooned in more than a year, wash them. Remember, if nothing else, your home should be spotless for the shows.
Fixing small but visible things is important. Chipped paint, loose or missing tiles, broken door handle, a closet door that doesn't quite close properly - all the little things you never had time to fix - unfortunately, they can become a BIG turnoff for a potential buyer. After all, they probably don't want to deal with the extra repairs while moving, unpacking and settling in. As well, it might make them wonder whether some other, more important things have been left uncared for in the house...
Home Staging tip #6: Paint!
Painting is the cheapest way to enhance a room! Be as objective as possible and decide which rooms (if any) could use a fresh coat of paint. Dark colors make a room seem smaller and some bright colors might not please everyone. Repaint main rooms (entrance, living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom) in fresh, neutral colors. I have recently had a client whose house was painted white and the potential buyers were using the fact that they will need to repaint as a negociating tool to lower the price. Instead, the client asked us to select appropriate colors and repaint. A Home Staging professional can help you with the choice of colors.
Home Staging tip #7: Refresh
Make sure all your furniture, light fixtures and accessories look contemporary. Most of the time, you can achieve the "fresh" look without spending a lot. For example, changing the counter top and/or cabinet handles in the kitchen can make a huge difference without having to remodel it. Changing light fixtures or faucets can also make quite an impact on the look and feel of a room. Simple things such as a new bed ensemble, a few decorative pillows and two nice table lamps will transform a bedroom.
Home Staging tip #8: De-personnalize
I wondered whether I should make this a part of my Home Staging tips list because the subject is delicate and needs to be explained properly. The idea is to make the house attractive to as many potential buyers as possible as well as have them concentrate on the HOUSE and not the personal stuff of the people living there. As you don't know who might be interested, you need to make your house appealing to a wide range of prospects - a young family with kids, a DINK (double income, no kids, in case you were wondering) couple, single person, retired couple, etc... Therefore, we recommend to make the house as neutral as possible by taking off and storing any religious or political symbols, diplomas, abundant collections and knick knacks as well as photos of the whole family - they distract from what you are selling - a property and not a home.
And an additional benefit might be that this process of 'depersonnalizing' your home wil help you to get emotionally detached from it and prepare you for sale and eventual move!
Home Staging tip #9: Light it up
A bright house is a great house. So, open all the blinds/curtains and make sure there is sufficient light in every room, add fixtures, stand up or table lamps - you can't have too much light!
Home Staging tip #10: Space optimization
Last but not least, the space management optimization and proper furniture and accessories placement is essential. It will give a home a warm and appealing look and feel. For example, the living room furniture has to be positioned as to create a conversation area which will look toward the room's focal point. A painting, a vase filled with decorative branches or a bowl of lemons will bring the ambiance to the ro