During the process of listing our house, I’ve gotten some helpful advice from our friend/Realtor and done quite a bit of research on home staging. Here’s what I learned and worked on at our house:
1. Spruce up house exterior and landscaping.
Lay fresh mulch and plant colorful flowers for quick impact. If your garage door is old, it might be a good investment to install a new one. Garage doors take up a good amount of the house’s exterior, and if it’s got dings and chipping paint, it sends the wrong message to potential buyers.
2. Focus on the entrance.
Stand at your front door and examine the area as if you were a buyer. After all, this is where they will stand as they await the real estate agent to arrive. Touching up paint, adding a new welcome mat, and a pot or two of flowers will go a long way.
3. Make minor repairs.
Take the time to fix minor problems around the house. A hole in the screen on the patio, a leaky faucet, exposed wires, can all show up on the home inspection report. Fixing them in advance is inexpensive and shows buyers the house is well-cared for.
If you have kids, you pretty much need to rent a storage unit and fill it to the brim. Take serious action in closets and the garage, as well. Too much stuff can look like your house is small and lacks storage space.
If you have a Disney room or an alter built to your alma mater, pack Mickey away and paint over that mascot. The same goes for brightly-colored rooms. Your son’s colbalt blue room or daughter’s florescent pink walls might be off-putting to some buyers. Have you ever watched an episode of “House Hunters” on HGTV? I think every episode features a couple walking through homes, complaining about bright color choices and all the painting they would have to do. Show a more neutral space where potential buyers can picture their things and won’t get sidetracked by the color.
Photo walls or collages can be distracting for buyers. They tend to look at all the photos, instead of focusing on the house. It can also be argued that taking down personal photos can help people visualize their own family in the house.
7. Take down photos and magnets from fridge.
A blank fridge looks clean and uncluttered.
8. Purge furniture.
Take out a few pieces of furniture. Removing a bulky chair, extra bookshelf, or table makes a room appear more spacious.
9. Rearrange to show more space.
In addition to purging some furniture, you can also rearrange to show off the space. Move a table that sticks out a little too far in the entryway or a chair that disrupts a natural walkway in the house. This doesn’t mean pushing all the furniture up against the walls, though. Conversation areas around a table are warm and inviting.
Give your house a deep scrub to remove dirt and odors. Don’t forget to shine faucets and wipe down all mirrors. You might also consider getting your carpets cleaned to remove odors and stains from pets and kids.
11. Organize under the kitchen sink.
Make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing under the kitchen sink. Use new shelf liner and organize underneath. This is a popular place for potential buyers to look.
12. Clear off counters.
It’s easy to accumulate a mass of objects on the kitchen counter — toaster, coffee machine, espresso machine, mixer, canisters, cutting board, knives, spices, cooking utensils, etc. Maybe pick three of these things to leave to leave out when your staging your house.
13. Add quick and easy centerpieces.
Apples and lemons both make inexpensive centerpieces that will last weeks. You can also borrow from your yard. Fall branches, spring greenery or summer blooms work nicely.
14. Plug in subtle scent.
Plug in a scented oil warmer 2 to 3 weeks in advance of listing your house. Of course you want your house to smell nice, but some of those plug-ins are super strong. Leaving them plugged in a couple weeks gives them a chance to calm down. I tried a few and liked this plug-in the best for its clean, non-flowery smell.
15. Put the toilet lids down.
Put the toilet seats and lids down. It just looks nicer, especially in pictures.
16. Light the way.
Turn your lamps on before showings for a cozy, inviting feel. Also, leave your outdoor lights on in the evening for potential buyer drive-bys.
Moving part 1: Sell your house faster with these home staging ideas
Moving part 2: Change of address, services to stop, organizing checklist
Moving part 3: Problems to look for when buying a house checklist
Moving part 4: Interior decor process for a new house
Moving part 5: Family’s first night in new house checklist