First impressions are everything. Let’s pretend you’re interviewing for a lucrative dream job. You’re prepared, knowledgeable, confident, and experienced. You have everything your employer needs to succeed. But you decide to show up to the interview wearing track pants and a barbecue sauce stained wrinkled five-year-old t-shirt. You’re the right person for the job, but you sure don’t look the part.
Your home could be in a safe neighborhood close to schools, community centers, restaurants, and transit. It could have a massive backyard with an in-ground swimming pool. The interior can offer the latest appliances and state of the art designs. It can offer ensuites and a city view from the windows of the master bedroom. But if the home is not staged to make a great first impression, then buyers will overlook all the wonderful features of your home. In this article, we’ll show you how to stage your home to sell and tell you which rooms need the most attention.
Before You Stage Your Home To Sell, Know Your Audience
Before you learn how to stage your home to sell, you have to know who will be interested in buying your home. This will impact every staging decision you make. Working with a good local real estate agent with knowledge about your area is essential. Their experience will tell them exactly who your home appeals to.
Every staging decision should be made with a profile of your buyer in mind. For example, if your home is near schools and community centres, then go for a traditional family-oriented staging. This will highlight bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. If you’re in an urban and trendy area then minimalism and open-concepts are key. Through staging, you’re trying to create the lifestyle buyers are shopping for.
Take a tour of your home with your realtor or staging professional to see where you need to invest the most time, money, and effort.
Judge A Book By Its Cover
Sometimes, it’s what’s on the outside that counts. The first thing buyers see when pulling up to your home or starting a virtual tour is the exterior. Right from the start, it’s important to stun buyers to make them curious about what the inside of your home offers. To do this, make sure your home has curb appeal.
Find Your Green Thumb
Focus on trimming trees and bushes and adding colorful potted plants to your veranda. Plants can be used to accent key points of your home. For example, having a window box and two planters on either side of your door can highlight the points of entry to your home, welcoming buyers in.
Remember, there’s always a walk-up to the front of your property, so ensure you have a pristine “green carpet” to guide buyers on their journey. A well-maintained lawn free of weeds, leaves, and patches is essential. If you live in a dry area look into other options such as artificial turf. Try to create a clear path for buyers to follow to your front door. This can be done with visual cues alone such as lights or plants in the right spots.
Replace Or Clean Your Hardware
If your mailbox and home numbers are rusting over, toss them for some new ones. Your mailbox style will vary depending on what you’re looking for. Both hangers and standing mailboxes are good options. A freshly painted front door can be very welcoming as well, in addition to being a cheap DIY task.
The goal when painting your front door is to find a bold color matching with your exterior. While you’re painting your front door, give your garage door some love as well. A quick powerwash can leave it looking brand new, without paying for an expensive replacement. And if you’re showing your home during a festive season, add a wreath for decoration. A wreath can help paint a mental image in the mind of the buyer of having their families over for the holidays.
Remember the goal of all this exterior staging is to make buyers want to enter your home and see what the inside offers. Having an exterior that wows can build their excitement for the rest of your house.
Put On Your Rubber Gloves & Roll Up Your Sleeves
Nobody’s dream home features scuffed baseboards, dusty shelves, stained floors, and dirty washrooms (Ok, maybe that’s someone’s dream home but likely not your buyer’s!). This is a time to hire a professional cleaning company, if you can, to get your home squeaky clean. If you’re trying to save on costs and you’re brave enough to take on the task of cleaning on your own, we recommend focusing on a few key areas.
Make your bathrooms look like Mr.Clean came in and scrubbed them for you. If your bathroom is not immaculate, this can be a turnoff for potential buyers. Hide all your cosmetic products away in storage. Don’t place them in your vanity, as some buyers will open it to check inside. Make sure all hard watermarks and mold spots are removed. If there is moldy caulking bordering your bathtub and shower, scrape it off and recaulk it.
Bathroom tiles are very important. If they look severely dated, you may have to re-tile. Otherwise, consider having them repainted. And remember to scrub the grout in between the tiles with the help of grout stain to leave them white and clean. Once you’ve taken off the rubber gloves, give your bathroom the spa treatment with towels, candles, and a few bars of high-end soap.
If you find your bathroom to be on the smaller side, it’s a good idea to install a pedestal sink, as this will give you more room to maneuver and offers a clean finish.
In the kitchen, the focus is on appliances, cupboards, sinks, baseboards, walls, and backsplashes. Make sure you update as many of these areas as you can before you start cleaning. Keep only essential appliances in the open. A nice Kitchen-Aid mixer at the end of a counter is a good start. Much like in the bathroom, focus on removing any hard water spots, especially on stainless steel appliances.
Counters should be wiped and crumb-free. Make sure the fan hanging above your oven is free of grease and food residue. The same applies to the outside and inside of your cupboards. If they are looking out of touch with the rest of your home, you may need to replace them. However, changing the knobs and handles to brushed aluminum can drastically improve their look. Lastly, be mindful of what’s behind the cabinet doors, as buyers will open them. Keep very few dishes, glasses, pots, pans, and serving trays in the area.
Take A Deep Breath
What do you smell? Mustiness and pet odor can be major turn-offs for buyers. We are nose-blind to the smells in our home because we are used to living with them. But every home has a distinct smell. This is important for pet-owners looking to sell their home. You may not be able to smell good ol’ Buster, but a potential buyer definitely will. A pleasant smell can immediately change the way a buyer thinks and feels about your home. Plug-in diffusers are great for handling odors. Place one at the entry-way for an immediate impact. In the kitchen, place a scented candle on the stove. Go for something food-related, like vanilla. Flowers or fake plants scattered around the home help to maintain a “fresh” atmosphere. Place a vase full of flowers on your kitchen table to amp up the freshness.
One word of caution: Do not overdo the aromas. Too many scents can make buyers suspicious that you’re trying to hide a larger problem in your home.
Financially, most of your investment will be dedicated to improving your kitchen and bathroom. Buying new appliances, cupboards, tiles, and flooring in these areas is a good start and it will make cleaning and preparing your home much easier.
It’s Nothing Personal
When a buyer enters your home their imagination is in overdrive. They’re thinking of how they’ll redecorate the living room. They’re picturing themselves hosting barbecues on the patio across from the pool. And they’re wondering how and if their furniture will fit into this space. Having personalized furniture, pictures, and paint throughout the home makes it difficult for the buyer to imagine themselves living there. The goal is to make your home as minimal and neutral as possible while maintaining a warm and inviting aura. The first and easiest step is removing all family photos, artwork, and personal collections from the home and replacing them with generic art.
Grab Your Paint Brushes
Maybe you love orange. So much so that you coated your entire living room in it when you first moved into your home. Most buyers won’t be thrilled with an orange living room, so you’ll have to invest in a few cans of paint. Keep the colors neutral. White, gray, beige, and taupe are good starting points. You want the home to feel light, bright, and clean. These colors will get you there.
Fix Your Furniture
This might be the most important factor in staging your home. Furniture can make or break a sale. The goal here is to declutter to increase the size of your living space. Every buyer wants more space. The more you can offer them, the better they’ll feel about your home. While many families opt for large sectionals, which can be great for lounging, they take up a lot of real estate, especially in dark colors. Keeping the color scheme neutral, go for a smaller couch with few cushions and clean lines to highlight the size of the living space.
Furniture should be kept away from the walls and positioned into groups. Most professional stagers will take away about half of a home’s furniture. The buyer should be able to flow through the home without obstructions.
There’s an important balance to strike here. While you may be thinking: “If buyers want a lot of space, why don’t I just get rid of all my furniture?” A barren home is spacious, but it doesn’t do much to stroke the imagination of the buyer. You want your home to be clean yet still feel lived in.
Want To Know How To Stage Your Home To Sell? Turn On The Lights!
If great lighting can make you look like an A-list celebrity, it can also make your home look like it belongs on HGTV. Great lighting can make your home warm and welcoming. Table lamps will help you get there. Table lamps emit a warm light and allow you to control where this light is coming from. Simply move the lamp to an ideal spot. In the right locations, a lamp can amp up a relatively boring room as they are usually the primary focus when they are lit. If you already have lamps to work with, finding the right lampshade and bulb will help set the mood. For the bedroom, two matching bedside lamps on either side of the headboard is a stunning visual.
Try to have at least three types of lighting in each room. It really is like being on a TV set! You’ll want overhead lighting from a fixture, a task-specific light (a desk light works well for this), and accent lights, such as lamps. If each room offers this, your home will be warm and welcoming to all.
Don’t forget to work with natural light as well. Open the blinds in every room and let some sunlight in. This brightens the space and makes it feel larger.
Convert A Room Into An Office Space
This is not an essential staging practice, but with the popularity of working from home in 2021, it is a good idea to have an office space somewhere in your home. This lets buyers know that they can live and work out of this property. If you don’t have an entire room to dedicate, the corner of your living room near a window will be more than enough. Make sure there is a desk with a lamp, a computer monitor, and pens. The goal is to have the space dedicated to one purpose: work.
Learning how to stage your home to sell is not for everyone. It’s important to have professionals at your side. A good real estate agent will find home stagers and cleaners to get your home on and off the market in record time. A properly staged home allows buyers to visualize themselves living in the space. According to NAR, 83% of buying agents said staging a home made it easier for their clients to see themselves living in the space. And with the median cost of home staging being $400, it is well worth the investment.