“Staging” is all about making a home look as appealing as possible and highlighting its best features. Through the careful placement of furniture, decorative items and other efforts, you can have your home looking picture perfect in no time — and that’s essential if you’re prepping to sell.
Is Staging Really Worth It?
Absolutely. When you’re still living in a home, staging can help “erase” your presence so that buyers can better see themselves in the space. If you’ve already emptied out a home, staging can help buyers envision what it’s like to live there — and show off big spaces and dramatic touches so that buyers can better see the property’s potential. That can translate into more money for you. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, staged homes can bring in bids up to 5% higher than homes that aren’t staged.
Depending on the size of your property, professional staging can cost between $1,000 and $5,000, so a lot of homeowners look for ways to handle the job themselves. Fortunately, there are plenty of no-cost and low-cost steps you can take to stage your place before it goes on the market.
Decrease and Declutter
If staging has a cardinal rule, it would be “Decrease and declutter.” Less really is more in this situation. Anything that you can define as clutter needs to be picked up and thrown out or put away — but that’s just part of what needs to happen.
Unless you embraced a minimalist philosophy and style years ago, the odds are good that there’s far too much stuff in your space. Everything from the tchotchkes on your mantle to the art on your walls has your personality and stamp on them, and that makes it harder for buyers to envision the place as their own. With that in mind:
- Pull down all of the family photos. You want buyers to see their family in the house, not yours.
- Pack away almost all knickknacks. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than one or two “objects of interest” in a given room.
- Clear off the countertops. The breadmaker, blender, and other things you normally keep out may be useful, but they detract from your kitchen’s beauty.
- Get rid of memorabilia and personal keepsakes. You want buyers to see your home, not showcase your personality or interests.
- Eliminate extra furniture. Too many end tables, footstools and plant stands can make a home feel crowded and uncomfortable to buyers.
- Invest in a few baskets for easy pick-up. If you’re still living in your home, it’s difficult not to have a little clutter. Baskets can be used to quickly gather up television and game remotes, kids’ toys and more when prospective buyers are coming.
The goal is to make your home as relentlessly neutral as possible. The more it resembles a nice, cozy hotel that’s just waiting on its next occupants to arrive, the better.
Half-Empty Your Storage Spaces
When you’re in the process of decluttering, don’t simply shove everything into the closets and storage spaces around your home. Trust us: Interested buyers are going to look inside every nook and cranny — and they don’t want your stored items falling out on their heads when they do.
Since buyers want to be able to see how much storage they’re going to have in a home, a half-empty closet or cupboard is ideal. That helps visually reinforce the idea that there’s plenty of storage space available. With that in mind:
- Organize your closets. Coordinate all your hanging clothes and line up the shoes.
- Clear out the kitchen cupboards. Get rid of all the extra cups and seldom-used plates or pans.
- Clean the pantries. Throw out any expired food items and donate a lot of the rest. Leave just enough in your pantry to make cooking practical.
- Scale-back the linen closet. Stack blankets, sheets and towels neatly and put anything you aren’t likely to use soon, including seasonal items, in storage.
Don’t forget to cull through any other storage areas in your house, like cubby holes, the spot beneath the kitchen sink and the bathroom cabinets. The more spacious your home seems to buyers, the better.
Focus on the Buyer’s First View
What’s the first thing potential buyers see when they enter your home? If their choices are walking through a claustrophobic foyer that’s lined with coats and shoes or a cluttered side-entrance through a dirty garage, you’ve got some work to do.
- Paint foyers and mudrooms a bright, neutral color to make them seem more open and inviting.
- Eliminate utility items like coat racks, shoe benches, umbrella stands and keyholders, or any other type of clutter.
- Consider adding a mirror on one wall to make the foyer or entrance seem larger.
Make sure that you carefully clean and declutter any area that your potential buyers will be walking through, including the attached garage. As always, you want buyers to feel like there’s plenty of room in a space for their needs.
If you do the work yourself, your biggest expenses might be a storage unit for your extra belongings and seasonal clothing or the paint you use on your walls. You may also want to spring for professional landscaping or a few flower pots to make the front of your home look especially welcoming. It might also be helpful to hire a professional cleaning crew to make your home sparkle once you’ve done all of the decluttering and sorting. Your REALTOR® may also have a few tips and tricks to share.