Thinking about putting your home on the market? You'll want to make sure to have it in tip top buyer-ready condition. We call this process staging. Once you decide to put the house on the market, it is essentially no longer your home and you need to make it desirable for its next owner.
Sometimes staging is confused with decorating, when in fact it's the opposite. Decorating is personalizing your home, while staging is de-personalizing. The purpose of staging is to have any buyer who walks through the door feel as if they could see themselves in your home. The faster they can make that connection, the more likely they will be to have an interest in purchasing your home.
Most of the time staging requires getting things out of the house, or otherwise moving furniture around so that it best complements the rooms. But I do bring things into my client's homes either from my staging stash or right off the walls in my own home.
Here are some tips for getting your home in selling-ready condition:
Paint. Painting is inexpensive and makes a huge difference. Replace bold or polarizing colored walls with neutrals. That doesn't need to mean paint the entire house off-white; that's not the idea. There are a lot of warm neutrals to bring into the mix. Don't paint the mouldings the same color as the walls. Mouldings are there for warmth and character. Don't muddle it by blending them into the walls. For bursts of color use moveable color in accent pieces such as flowers or pillows.
Return each room to its originally intended purpose. Let's say a living room has become the first floor playroom. Turn it back into a living room because that's what the buyer is expecting to see.
Declutter. Clutter is a distraction that leaves the potential buyer with an uneasy feeling. No one likes the feeling of disarray when they are shopping for houses. All unnecessary items should be removed from the floor, tables, counters and shelves.
Closets. This probably falls under the above category, but it's worth a separate mention. All closets should be slightly less than full, and definitely not over-filled. Too little in the closet seems strange and too much makes it look like there isn't enough closet space in the home. It's all about perception -- if it doesn't look like there is enough room for you, then it seems natural there won't be enough room for them.
Please put your collections in storage. Because they are fascinating to look at, they become a distraction. I've seen doll collections, plate collections, porcelain, bird houses, you name it. Every time we spend more time looking at those items than the house. If someone isn't a fan of antique dolls, they become disconnected with the house. I was showing a house recently where the ancient bride doll on the bed provided unintended creep factor. The only thing that should be on display is your house.
Sellers always ask about personal photographs. I encourage some photos because it makes you seems like they're buying from real people vs. buying a home that feels like the model version of the neighborhood. But THIN THEM OUT. Too many photos becomes a collection (see above re collections).
Find a good real estate agent who has a fair amount of staging experience and ask to see before and after pictures. He or she should spend whatever time is necessary in helping you to get the house in showing condition. Be open-minded and know that the effort will result in a faster sale at a higher price.