Prime Selling Season is Near: Stage Your House Like a Pro for Free

With a little work, you can stage your house yourself to make it stand out from the competition

Source: Investopedia; Revised by CLAIRE CAVALIERI, REALTOR

Successfully selling your house in today’s real estate market requires keen preparation. Your property must look its best to stand apart from the competition, which means you need to stage your home in order to get top dollar. Staging services can cost thousands, but with a little work and minimal investment, you can do it yourself. Here are seven staging secrets to help you sell your property faster and for a higher price.

(1)  Say Goodbye and Depersonalize
Cost  $0

Selling a house and living in it are two very different things. If you’re like most people, you have family photographs to make you feel at home. Now that you’re selling your house, however, it’s time to make room for buyers to imagine themselves living there, which means that all of your family photos and personal items must go. While you’re packing away baby pictures, take time to say goodbye to your house. If you have children, get them involved in this process as well. It’ll make it easier to start looking at your house as an asset you’re selling, rather than an extension of you.

(2)  Get Packing
Cost  $0 to +/-$50 a month for a storage unit

Once you’ve packed your family photos away, it’s time to clear your clutter. You want to show buyers the space, not your china collection — however beautiful it may be. Holiday decorations, memorabilia and books — anything you can do without for a while should be packed away. Cut back your kids’ toys. Use baskets or containers to store toys and keep things tidy. Consider renting a storage unit; the cost will be worth it, since your home will look much bigger (and considered to be worth more) when it has less stuff in it.

(3)  Add Curb Appeal
Cost  $0-$100

The outside of your home is the first thing a buyer sees — does your home stand out from the street? Clean the exterior of your home, touch up any flaky paint and add some bright annuals to your garden for a quick sprucing up. If you have a porch, set the stage with a potted plant or a chair with a colorful outdoor pillow. First impressions are vital, so don’t lose your chance to get buyers in the right mood from the moment they see your house.

(4)  Demonstrate Each Room’s Purpose
Cost  $0-$500 if buying furniture

Most of us use our spaces in ways that suit our lifestyle: dining rooms become offices, family rooms become playrooms and spare bedrooms become storage areas. Now that you’re selling your home, it’s time to restore those spaces to their original purpose. Look around your house for furniture that could fit the space, ask a neighbor or friend to borrow furniture or look at thrift stores or online bulletins for inexpensive staging props. Paint, slipcovers or a decorative tablecloth are easy fixes for dated or worn furniture. For example, it’s easy to turn a spare bedroom into an office with a simple table, chair and notebook. Or, an empty basement becomes a game room with a table, chairs and a chess board staged to play. Use what you already own, and stage each room so buyers can easily see what its purpose is.

(5)  Unify with Color
Cost  $0-$100

If you’ve ever been to a new, builder-staged home, you’ve probably noticed that decorators picked a color scheme throughout the house. It’s a stager’s trick: homes that have a repeating color scheme seem bigger and more organized. Chances are that you already have a favorite color you like to use in your home — just take a look at your curtains, bedding and towels to find a recurring color. If not, pick a subtle color and repeat it in each room in small ways. Scented candles, towels, framed postcards (you can use your family photo frames) and throw pillows are inexpensive items to help unify your décor.

(6)  Furniture Placement
Cost  $0

Hopefully, when you packed away your clutter, you also stored excess furniture to help make rooms look bigger. Here’s another important tip: if possible, avoid putting all your furniture against the wall like many of us do — it actually makes a room seem smaller. For example, if you have a fireplace, position your furniture facing it and “floating” (away from the walls) in a conversation configuration so visitors can sit close and enjoy the fire. Keep pathways clear and remember: LESS IS MORE. When in doubt, REMOVE IT. You want buyers to see your home’s space, not your stuff.

(7) Spic & Span

Cost  $0

It goes without saying that the entire property inside and out must be spotlessly neat and clean. Buyers will perceive your house as more valuable and will be willing to pay a higher price if it looks and feels immaculate.

Ready, set, sell!
When you’re done, ask your Realtor and an honest friend or neighbor to tour your property and give their input for any final touches. Remember to keep the house staged and looking its very best until it’s under contract. With these inexpensive staging tips, your home will be the most desirable in the neighborhood – it will surely sell faster and for a higher price than other houses not staged. Studies and my own professional experience have proven this to be true.

If you need help staging, I am happy to consult with you to help make your property look like a page out of Better Homes & Gardens.