There’s a lot of activity in the residential real estate market right now, so you face a lot of competition if you’re trying to sell your home. To grab an advantage and hold on to it (as well as to hold on to what extra money you can) you need to know how to “stage” your home in the most cost efficient way – a.k.a., staging a home on the cheap (let’s call it what it is).
There are professionals who charge a small fortune doing what you can do yourself. Since the whole game is about saving as much money as you can, here are some suggestions on how you can do what the “pros” do. And if it works for you, think about hiring yourself out to others! (Business idea???)
The Basics of Staging Your Home
The first steps are easy, simple and practical. Clean up the place! Wash and put away the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink (Don’t leave them in the dishwasher; your visitors are going to open it up to see what its condition is). Organize what’s in your fridge and cabinets. Clean the oven and microwave. Straighten out you drawers because the buyers are going to look in them.
Something some folks forget – clean the light fixtures and bulbs as well as the lamps. Polish anything that shines.
If the walls and floors are a bit grimy, mix equal parts of water and bleach in a spray bottle and scrub them down. If it’s gotten that bad, a light and quick re-paint wouldn’t hurt.
Clear counters in the kitchen and bathrooms of everything but the bare essentials – soap, towels, etc. Your goal is to put as much empty space out there as possible.
While your house is being showcased, get out of the habit of hanging up wet towels. Take them to the laundry room and as soon as you have a load, run it, and put the clean items away neatly. Keep of set of “showing” towels ready to be put out. It helps if they are white or bright colors.
If your shower door is a bit foggy, don’t replace it. Scrub it with a mixture of one part muriatic acid and ten parts water. Muriatic acid is available at most hardware stores. That’s cheaper than replacing the shower door.
Potential buyers want to visualize the place as their own. You’re going to be gone. Put away the family portraits and substitute generic art if you have to have wall hangings.
Think of how color schemes come across to your prospect. Bright pink may be what your daughter likes in her bedroom, but it could be a tad disconcerting. Change all your room colors to a design that would accommodate the most tastes.
Update. Older fixtures communicate negatively to buyers and is manifested with lower offers. Trending upward now are nickel chrome and oiled bronze. Re-stain your cabinet faces, or sand and repaint them. Substitute brushed silver or stainless steel hardware to present a more modern look. The average amount spent by home sellers to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms is about $1,950, but the benefit is a reaping of about $3,250 more in income; that’s about a 66% profit.
Eliminate as much furniture as you can and still keep the house looking “lived-in.” They will be bringing in their own furnishings and they need to see how it would look. Yes, that may mean your comfortable old recliner may have to be stored, but its butt-worn cushion won’t sell the place for you.
How Can I Make This Place Look Bigger, Better, Brighter?
Go through your closets and temporarily store as much as you can spare. Jammed closets gives an impression of not having enough storage space. Stack boxers closely together to help hide the clutter. Replace the wire clothes hangers from the cleaners with matching or coordinating colored hangers.
Window treatments can make a room feel bigger. If you have low ceilings, hang neutral colored drapes on thin rods the full height of the room. Framing the window that way also makes them seem larger and the ceilings higher.
In the living room, keep the shades up and curtain open; “let the sun shine in!” Stage the room with light-finished furniture. Stay aware from ultra-modern and bizarre pieces; traditional furnishing appeal the most. If the room is particularly large (or empty), a strategically placed plant will provide a focal point.
In bedrooms, get rid of television sets, desks, workout equipment, and power strips. Discard anything and everything that distracts from the central purpose of the bedroom. Coordinate colors to present a “gender neutral” appeal. Establish a theme for the room and then make everything support it – drapes, rugs, bedspreads, chairs, pictures and wall hangings.
Scatter rugs make the eye stop and break up the staging. Remove rugs and you will make the room appear larger. Take up the mats in front of the sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen. You’ve undoubtedly spent good money on installing new flooring, so don’t hide it.
Adding Finishing Touches
Just as you vacate the premises for the visitors, light some scented candles, put on some quiet, relaxing music, and…set the dining room table! This will create a focal point in a room usually thought of as boring. Don’t over-stage! It’s not necessary to put out every piece of china and silver you have. Take out extra leaves from the table (remember, your trying to maximize space!) and put a vase with colorful flowers in the center.
If any of the rooms have faders on the ceiling lights, set them at about 50%. Open the blinds and drapes.
Set the thermostat at about 68º during the winter and 78º in the summer a few hours before the appointment. That will give the house time enough to adjust to a comfortable temperature. If you have a fireplace and it is winter, lay a fire. The idea is for the place to be as homey as you can make it.
If you have pets, don’t try to hide it. Leave the empty food and water dish (sparkling clean, of course!) so the prospects can see them. This isn’t clutter but a subtle way of acknowledging any damage that the animals might have done.
Unlock any doors, especially those going to the garage or carport. Of course, you’ve straightened that up so it presents an organized appearance and not the junk pile it normally is.
It may take you several days to get this all done, so start on it as soon as you make the decision to put the place on the market. That way you’ll have a head start when the agent brings someone by unannounced. Listen to any suggestions the agent makes, too. They know what sells, or they wouldn’t be in the business.
Have you ever sold your house? Did you have any problems making it presentable, “staging it,” for a favorable impression? Share with us any tips or techniques you have on how to make a home look lived in and at the same time having a pristine presentation for outsiders.