Staging your home for sale may lead to more money at closing, and this doesn’t always mean hiring and paying for a home staging service. The National Association of REALTORS® reports that seventy-one percent of sellers’ agents state that a well-staged environment increases the dollar amount that buyers are willing to offer. We spend time discussing with every seller and make any necessary recommendations on staging and decluttering as part of our overall process and listing consultation.
Of course, staging is not a guarantee of a higher selling price, but it is a valuable marketing tool when you are competing for a faster sale at the right price. It’s important to declutter, repair, update, and depersonalize, according to agents and stagers. Here’s their checklist:
– Go for symmetry with table lamps and accent pillows.
– Chic lamps add lighting and appealing décor.
– Clean up the fireplace; clean away soot stains and replace the old screen.
– If you’re using staging furniture or buying slipcovers, choose light colors.
– Remove some furniture pieces to make the room feel larger.
– Add coordinated bright accessories (pillows or throws) to add a splash of color.
– Display a board game or serving pieces on the coffee table to set the scene; arrange furniture for conversation.
– Set your television to a slideshow of beautiful images like a screensaver.
– Clear the countertops except for a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of flowers.
– Pack up all your dishes except one nice, matching set. Also pack any extra glassware, flatware, and cookware to minimize drawer and cupboard use.
– If they’re dated, modernize cabinets with fresh paint or stain and new hardware.
– Take a good look at your appliances; do they need a good scrubbing? If you must replace appliances, the Real Estate Staging Association recommends stainless steel.
– Remove fridge magnets and clean the door and handles.
– Clean walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.
– Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink.
– Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make the space seem larger. Use decorative baskets for small items.
– Empty trash cans and put them out of sight.
– Make the master bedroom gender neutral – no dainty flowered shams or NASCAR posters.
– Pack up all out-of-season and not-absolutely-necessary clothes to make your closets appear larger.
– Consider a set of matched wooden hangers for a better look than your mismatched plastic and wire ones.
– Put jewelry and other valuables away in a safe place.
– Show extra bedrooms as a home office, sewing room, or other interesting functional room.
– Remove televisions and video game consoles from bedrooms for a more peaceful look.
– Help buyers to think about entertaining. Set some pretty place settings; add a few wine glasses and a decanter on the buffet.
– Avoid overly formal or a too-casual look – an attractive runner, small vases or short candle holders show well.
– Scrub and sanitize the floor, walls, shower door – every surface that steam hits.
– Spend extra time on tile grout and re-caulk the tub, if necessary.
– If your bathroom tile is dated, try painting instead of replacing it. Use a high-adhesion primer and follow with epoxy or latex paint.
– De-clutter the tub, countertop, and top of the toilet. Clean all surfaces until they shine.
– Pack up and hide all personal products, including medicine and razors.
– Create a spa-like bathroom with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, candles, plants, decorative baskets, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat.
– Replace the toilet seat and fix leaky or running toilets.
– Remove hard water stains on showerheads and faucets. (Vinegar works wonders! Tie a plastic bag with vinegar on your showerhead to soak it clean.)
– Banish odors from your drains by deodorizing with baking soda and boiling water or vinegar.
– If it’s time for a new sink, a pedestal can optimize space.
WALLS, WINDOWS & MORE:
– If a hallway or corner is dark, brighten it up with a decorative mirror.
– Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted dark colors, repaint white or beige.
– Paint adjoining rooms the same color to enlarge the space.
– Fill holes and nicks in walls and touch-up.
– Wood paneling? Paint it a neutral color. If you’re feeling ambitious, consider using food filler between the panels before painting.
– Check that all outlet covers and switch plates match and look new.
– Wash windows, inside and out. Repair screens.
– Replace family portraits with interesting art throughout the house. Avoid dead space.
THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE:
– De-clutter! This is pre-packing for your move. Pack books, clothes, and personal items; place them in a neat pile in the garage or, even better, in a rented storage unit.
– Pre-packing includes family photos, diplomas, kids’ artwork, and anything else that’s personal.
– Make closets, attics, and basements as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
– Re-make underused areas of the house. An alcove or the end of a hallway can be a reading nook or mini office with just a chair or small desk.
– Change light bulbs for better lighting.
– Check all doors, drawers, and cabinets for easy opening and closing. Change hardware if an update is needed.
– Replace damaged hardwood floor boards or sand and re-stain.
– Deep (very deep) clean! Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom – including carpets – before viewings.
– Display house numbers that are attractive and visible from the street.
– Freshen up the porch with new paint or stain.
– Re-paint the front door, preferably in red, black, blue, or wood stain; your door should complement, not blend with, the trim. Avoid unconventional colors like purple.
– Put out a new doormat to welcome prospective buyers.
– Power-wash the exterior, steps, driveway, walkway, and porch.
– Check that your doorbell and locks function.
– Clean your mailbox or install a new one.
– Plant colorful flowers in garden beds or attractive pots.
– Trim shrubs and trees along the walk to the front door.
– Plant new seed or lay fresh sod where needed.
– Store children’s toys and yard equipment out of sight.
– Stabilize shaky railings.
– Hang a hammock or set out a fire pit to show that your yard can be fun!
– Add mulch to planting beds.
– Check that entryway lights work and are free of insects and cobwebs.
– Hide recycling and trash cans; put away garden hoses.
– Stage your patio or deck like an outdoor living room with furniture, accent pillows, and décor.
FOR PET OWNERS:
– Scrub away pet stains. Use products made for pet odors.
– Remove pet beds, toys, blankets, food bowls, and anything that may harbor pet odors. (You may not smell them; prospective buyers may!)
– Use air fresheners that eliminate, not mask, odors.
– Remove any furniture that your furry friend has scratched or chewed on.
– Remove all pet waste from the yard.
– Keep litter boxes immaculately clean and hidden. (Perhaps a kitty-loving friend or relative will allow Fluffy to stay with them for a while. They might enjoy that more than leaving with you each time strangers may be in their home.)
– If possible, remove dog or cat doors.
– Each time you expect a viewing, take your pets (furry, feathery, scaly, whatever) with you. It’s safer for everyone.
– Make a pet hair check the last chore as you leave the house before a showing.
DAY OF SHOWING:
– Add a seasonal scent. Simmered cinnamon sticks for fall or fresh cut lilacs in a vase for springtime.
– Tidy like never before. Yes, it feels unnatural to have your home in this state, but it makes a huge first-impression.
– Avoid cooking anything overly “pungent” at home, but bake cookies to leave a welcoming aroma.
– Leave! Do something fun while prospective buyers fall in love with the house you worked so hard to stage.