Planning Ahead: Staging Your Home for Sale

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Ah, spring. A time for new beginnings. It will be here before you know it, and now’s the time to get your house ready to sell! If you’re like the majority of home sellers, you will most likely be living in your home while it’s listed on the market. Here are a few tips to entice a buyer by staging your home with you in it.

For our purposes, let’s assume you have repaired the leaky roof, fixed the broken gate in the backyard, mended the patio steps, and generally done all the repairs any buyer would normally see. Your home is holiday-ready. You have cleaned from top to bottom. The cobwebs are gone, footprints are invisible, fingerprints on the black granite are gone, the curtains are no longer musty smelling, the shower is mold free and the baseboards are shining again. You’ve really scrubbed the bathrooms and kitchen, and made the tile and grout beautiful and move-in ready. After all, studies show that the number one put-off for home buyers is a messy and dirty home.

Your responsibility as a seller is obviously cleaning, repairing and maintaining your home until the buyer gets the keys. You want your home to be beautiful and buyable. After you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to stage your home. This step goes beyond cleaning and repairing.

Staging is depersonalizing your home to appeal to a broader market, not just your taste. And it works. The National Association of Realtors survey revealed that 60 percent of Realtors believe staging decreases the amount of time a home sits on the market. Plus, they reported that staging increases sales prices anywhere from 1 to 10 percent when compared to similar homes on the market. Almost all Realtors agree that staging makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.

As you enjoy the holidays, it’s a good time to begin thinking about how to follow Realtors’ advice. Professionals recommend you get rid of half of your belongings. This includes the basement, attic and garage. Go through every drawer, closet and cabinet. If you can live without it, consider selling it, donating it or storing it somewhere else.

When a prospect walks into your home, they need to picture themselves in it, not your family. Remove from view anything that is personal, such as family photos, trophies, religious statues, posters of political figures or jokes hanging on a wall. All of those knickknacks, books, magazines and toys that have accumulated over the years need to be packed.

Add mirrors. They add lightness to rooms and add depth to the space, more so than just windows. Showcase your home’s most special feature. It may be an entryway or a vaulted ceiling. Whatever it is, don’t block it. Instead, focus on it through online photographs and in the narrative of your home’s listing.

Paint neutral colors; buyers shudder at red or violet walls. Use color as accents, though. You don’t want to look like a hospital waiting room. Accent furniture by removing larger pieces that tend to crowd a room. If possible, ask a friend whose home you admire to come over and lend advice on rearranging your furniture. Start at the front door and go throughout the entire home. Keep in mind that the less furniture you have, the larger your home will appear.

Consider curb appeal. Power washing the house will make a big difference. Perhaps a newly painted front door in a modern color would update the front at minimal cost. Consider hiring a professional window cleaner. Nothing makes as big an impression as sparkling windows.

Trim, trim and trim some more. Cut back greenery that is overgrown. Clean the gutters. Edge the yard and even fix the numbers on the house. Keep your home lit at night. Prospects like to drive by after dark.

Write a story about your home and share why you love it and how well you have treated it over the years. Leave copies for buyers to take with them, right next to the freshly baked cookies on the kitchen counter.

Of course, if all of this sounds daunting, you can always hire professional stagers. For a minimum investment, you can meet with an expert who will make recommendations on how best to show off your house with your current furniture and accessories. Or, you can spend up to $5,000 for a stager to replace your belongings with all-new furniture and accessories.

Whatever your course of action is, staging your home will most likely result in a faster sale with a higher price. Here’s to planning ahead! ■

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