For some great photo examples, be sure to check out my Pinterest.com account... Elizabeth A. Bryant..."Staging Ideas to Sell Your Home" and for some Do's & Don'ts check under Home Improvement tab at this website.
To sell faster and for more money. Some estimates say a staged home will sell in half the time and for 10% more. From my experience, I would guess the payoff to be much higher.
Staging is the deliberate plan to make a home appeal to the largest number of buyers. The goal is to make a home appear as new, big, light and bright and as versatile as possible, often with very little expense, just time & energy.
The average home takes three days to three weeks to prepare for show and it starts with an over-all general cleaning. The type of cleaning most of us reserve for special occasions or when our mother-in-law comes to stay. The type of cleaning that would stand up to a white glove military inspection, affectionately called "clearing quarters".
Everything should sparkle and shine, especially kitchens and baths. Get out the bleach, lemon juice and toothbrush and get going. Clean nooks and crannies-ceiling fan blades, wall vents, base trim work. Once you have finished the deep cleaning process, consider hiring a service to come in every 2-3 weeks. Then all you have to do is wipe down counters and do a quick vacuum before showings.
Once clean, necessary repairs are more obvious. Anything cracked, broken, missing or inoperable needs to be repaired or replaced. Most buyers will do a home inspection anyway and they often grossly over estimate the time, money and hassle to do any repairs. So do it ahead of time and save yourself loads of money and grief up front.
Most homes have anywhere from a half to two thirds of items removed from sight. You are moving anyway, so start packing now. Take extra items off kitchen and bathroom counters, tables, desks, mantles, refrigerator doors and bookshelves. Clean out closets, cabinets, pantries, basements and garages. Excessive wall art, sculptures, family photos, plants, toys, games & furniture can be stored, hidden or boxed up now for the eventual move. All that extra stuff may be valuable and hold dear memories but it creates "noise" when a buyer is trying to evaluate a room and picture their family and their stuff inside.
Wallpaper, strong colors, odors, personal photos or collections. You do not want to be the "wallpaper house" or the "smoker's house" or the "cat house". Consider some of the model homes you have visited. They are decorated professionally usually with a general theme-farmhouse, traditional, mid-century modern, urban industrial, eclectic--a style people want to duplicate or could see their family living in with very few changes.
Sage or honey or new "greige" gray-beige colored walls. The same soft colored sisal carpet throughout the home. Few, if any, family photos. There may be a "race car" themed boys bedroom but not the entire house. Be especially careful with religious and political items. The goal is to sell, not convert, antagonize or offend.
Be aware of smoke, pets, moth balls (they can not even be in the garage), and cooking smells. Also be aware of strong plug-ins and smelly candles. Try cinnamon, vanilla, cookie & lemon scent in the kitchen, but in the rest of the house use clean, linen or citrus. No fruit or flower smells.
Kitchen: New cabinet hardware, herb plants, fresh towels. If budget allows: stainless appliances, granite/quartz counters, glass back splash/subway tile.
Baths: New shower curtain & liner, new white towels, (some colors if room is too white) new bar soap & fresh new caulk. If budget allows: new shower tile or tub resurface, paint cabinet, new hardware, replace toilet seats, new faucet or shower head.
Bedrooms: New bed linens or duvet, new lamp shades, pile of new bed pillows to create a headboard like hotels. If budget allows: new tufted headboard.
Simply by rearranging furniture, art work and accessories you can create an entire new look. Keep in mind, you are creating enough room for at least two and usually three people (Realtor & two buyers) who are judging each room for the first time from the most likely entry point. The way you "live" in your home now may be more functional for TV watching or more convenient for working and dining, but is it the best way to "show and sell" a home?
Tables, lamps, dressers, chairs & sculptures placed at a room's entrance create a road block. Instead of a couch with its back to the entry, why not on an angle or move to a different wall. Anything jutting into the pathway while moving through a room should be removed or relocated. Anything precarious that can be knocked over by a swinging handbag or turning backpack should be moved as well.
Each room should have a focal point--a selling point. Not the television, but the fireplace. Not the red trash can or refrigerator covered with magnets but the large work island. Not the closet door with kids artwork and personal calendar, but the bay window. You get the idea. Try to direct the eye across the room and sell the spaciousness.
You are trying to create room for them to picture where they would have Thanksgiving dinner, put up the Christmas tree, take prom photos, host a BBQ, make taffy apples, watch the Super Bowl, have sleepovers--raise their family & be happy.
This is usually the fun part because all the heavy lifting, hauling and scrubbing has been done. It's usually the last step before photos and showings are allowed. Careful placement of lamps, plants, pottery, art, books and favorite items are the finishing touch that pull a room together. Put "likes" together and try groupings of three's and five's when just one is not enough. Draw the eye up to sell height with floor lamps, art work or tall house plants.
Avoid yellow, pink, red and orange. These colors on pillows, flowers and vases can create "flash points"-- hot spots--in photos that are a distraction. Try to work with black, whites, greens, beige and neutrals. Try River Birch firewood in your very clean fireplace. Potted herbs at kitchen window. A tiny lamp on the kitchen or bath counter.
Do not underestimate the power of staging a walk-in closet, pantry or laundry room. These are places people will spend time. Make them look good, organized, colorized. Nice matching hangers and coordinated containers. Old fashion laundry basket, clothes lines and old clothes pins. Create "vignettes". Wrapping paper center. Potting shed table. Straw hat collection. Stack of puzzles & one in progress. A cozy chair, floor lamp, small table and book. These create emotion. But do not feel like you must furnish every room. The two or three family bedrooms can be empty.
I once bought a house in Dallas because of the "hammock setting"-magazine, shawl, pitcher of lemonade and realized the first summer when I tried to duplicate the setting that the trees were too close together and the mosquitoes were the size of helicopters. But I fell for it--hook, line & sinker. I also bought a house in Phoenix that always had the fireplace going during showings with real crackling wood. It was 122 degrees our first summer there and we never used the fireplace in two years!
Light can be the most important emotional decorating element. Light lifts the spirits and makes rooms looker bigger, happier and more inviting. Depending on the size of each room, size and number of windows and ceiling heights... strive for two to three points of light...a skylight, window and table lamp or floor lamp, ceiling light & counter lamp. Just beware of light bulbs that are too yellow, too orange, too blue or too white. Goal is to create natural sunlight, even in the basement.
Light can be created by painting over dark paneling, covering dark floors with a large light rug, covering dark furniture with light slipcovers, pillows & shawl. Open all window treatments, maybe remove fabrics, tweak blinds and collapse open. Another trick is the use of mirrors to bounce light through a room or down a hall. The bigger the better, even huge ones leaning against wall on floor. You can get them cheap at Home Depot, Lowes, World Market, Pier One.
Consider carefully how your home looks from the street when you drive by. If people slow down now to admire your home, you have "Curb Appeal". Good job, keep it up. If they do not even turn their heads your direction, you can improve on that. Assuming the roof, gutters, siding and windows are in good condition, a one story home can be swept off with a broom and a two story hosed off. Make it sparkle. Then consider the approach to your home and your first impressions. Grass green and weed free. Flower beds shovel edged with fresh shredded mulch. Trees trimmed. How about the driveway? Need to seal coat the asphalt? No toys, garden hoses, boat trailers, trash cans...
Most homes need a new doormat outside, new floor mat or rug inside, a new brass kick plate at the bottom exterior of the front door and a fresh coat of paint on the door as well. How about the mailbox, house numbers & shutters? These add personality and should coordinate with the front door. The garage door should NOT be the focal point. Consider the new carriage-style doors painted the same lighter color as your trim, soffit and fascia. Let your front door and/or shutters be the punch of color along with flower boxes or a grouping of pots. Too cold for plants? Throw some tiny lights on a trellis near the front door or add a bench or an old wooden chair and a cool garden/architectural element. Make the entrance inviting.
One neutral super clean carpet throughout the home or hardwood floors looks bigger
Organized closets with extra space on the top shelf and floor look bigger
The average home has too many tired mis-matched area rugs, pillows and vases of fake flowers
Windows that are professionally cleaned inside & out look newer
Soft Scrub, Scotch Brite & a toothbrush take 20 years off the inside of a dishwasher & tile grout
Homes that look good and smell good--feel good
Your First Showing...
Bake cinnamon rolls or sugar cookies-buy Pillsbury and bake just one each morning
Turn On all the key lights-even in closets, basement and garage
Put Down all toilet seats
Open Up the windows - if its nice outside
Throw Down a slice or two of fresh lemon or grapefruit into the disposal
Turn Up soft "Buy My House" music-no elevator, easy listening music
Start a fire - if its cold, but only if you are nearby after showing. No burning candles.
Throw Out the trash
"Swiffer" the wood & tile floors
Take Out the dog, hide the cat, litter box & toys, any pet evidence
Vacuum your way out the door
I will call you with feedback or an offer!