Staging Tips for Sellers

Staging Tips for Sellers

Thinking about putting your home on the market? Many factors come into play for homeowners who make the decision to sell. Perhaps your family has outgrown the home. Maybe you’ve reached a different stage in life (such as empty nesting) and don’t need as much space. Selling your home shouldn’t be a rushed decision. We can help you evaluate your current home’s marketability and provide guidance on what is available for your next move. 

Once you make the decision to sell, you’ll need to undertake the task of preparing the home for sale. If you want to get the top dollar for your property, do the work to stage it. Staging a home shows your property in the most advantageous way to attract buyers. The goal of home staging is to improve the home’s appearance in the eyes of potential buyers, with the ultimate goal of selling the home more quickly and for the highest possible price. 

There are several benefits to staging:

  • Staging makes you to think like a potential buyer who is going to be looking at your home. It gives you a great perspective that can help you prepare.
  • Staging can increase the likelihood of a sale. When buyers can look at a home and picture themselves living there rather than the family who does live there, they are more likely to want to purchase if they otherwise love the home.
  • Staging can reduce the days on market, by helping the home sell faster. When you reduce the time on the market, it’s less likely that the home will sell for a lower price than the list price.
  • Staging a home can get more potential buyers into the home with a good first impression. If a home shows well, more agents will want to show the home to their clients.

We asked Alma Valdez, our resident staging and decor expert, to offer up her top tips based on what is trending and what impacts the bottom line. (Alma Valdez is also a Realtor who understands the market ahead of the curve based on demand in her staging business and buyer traffic and interest levels.)

Clean and Declutter

The first step in staging a home involves cleaning and removing clutter and excess. Deep clean the home inside out baseboards to gutters to weeding the yard. Pack up off season clothing, holiday decorations, unused furniture and anything else you can remove from the property while it’s on the market. Take a good hard look at your home and remove anything on any floor surface that is not necessary. 

Decluttering and in fact depersonalizing a home is often a challenging and emotional job for homeowners. Perhaps you raised your babies there and love that the entryway is covered in their photos. But these personal mementos can detract from the buyers’ ability to envision it as their home. Generic artwork and fewer family photos and knickknacks can be enjoyed again when you move into your new home. 

First Impressions

Think about how you might prepare for a house party. It all starts when the guests arrive. The front door and the front yard are the first impression a buyer has of your property, and it is the first photo that will show on an MLS listing. Restain or repaint the front door, and consider replacing the front door locks and handles, particularly if your current front door hardware is outdated. Buy some fresh colorful pots of flowers to sit on the doorstep with a new doormat. Make sure the yard is edged and mowed, put in fresh mulch and remove any dead or dying plants, tree limbs, or large piles of leaves. 

Now move into the entryway and continue editing the view. Make walking into your home a welcoming and easy process. Shiny floors, good lighting, and clean scents. Some realtors say that the smell of fresh baked cookies is welcoming, but we recommend clean scents over the aromas of anyone cooking – unless you’ll be serving those cookies in the kitchen. Whatever scent you choose, make it continue throughout the home from the entry to the living spaces, bath, bedrooms, closets, and so forth. Plug-in air fresheners and diffusers are excellent substitutes for fresh flowers. 

Three savvy home decor and staging tricks that really make a difference in first impressions:

  • Clean or replace the flooring, especially in high traffic areas. Have carpets professionally cleaned and consider replacing anything with stains with new carpet or – better – hardwood flooring. Show off hardwood floors to their best advantage by having any big stains or worn sections sanded and refinished. Polish them up and use area rugs to define different seating areas or spaces within a larger room.
  • Increase the wattage in all lamps and fixtures. You want about 100 watts for every 50 square feet in the space. Ideally, each large room space includes overhead, lamp, and accent lighting.
  • Update those ceiling fans or combo ceiling fan/lighting fixtures in high traffic areas with new ones that look like they came from this decade. 

The Moneymaker

You’ve heard it before and it’s still true. Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. The kitchen is the heart of the home. If there is one room in your home that needs to show well, it’s the kitchen. And if there is one room that you will consider updating, this is the one. Put extra time into this space decluttering and thoroughly cleaning. Counters should be free of small appliances and food items. Find a home for everything, behind doors. So, when you stage this area of your home, be merciless about removing all unnecessary items, including the coffee pot. Purge your cabinets and drawers. Put anything you haven’t used in 30 days into a box. If you don’t get it back out, then it probably can be tossed or donated. Holiday or party ware should be boxed up and stored. The cabinets and drawers should be neat, orderly, clean and appear as though there is a lot of room for a new buyer belonging. Pay particular attention to the sink and faucets. They should be clean and sparkling. Appliances should be spotless inside and out. Replace any old or broken appliances. 

Unless you’ve recently updated the kitchen, there are a few DIY things you can do that will make a big impact. First, consider repainting the room or at least the cabinets. Paint is inexpensive. Buy neutral tones like soft greys or whites. Next, buy new hardware for the sink and evaluate the quality of your cabinet fixtures. Local home repair and decor stores now carry a wide variety of peel and stick contact paper and pieces that resemble tile patterns, as well as beadboard. Keep it simple, clean, and neutral. You’re making the space feel like an open canvas for the buyer to customize. 

Home Office Trends

Never have home offices been more in demand on home buying wish lists. Many homeowners have converted guest rooms, garages, and other nooks and crannies into office space to fit the post-COVID workplace and school settings. If you have an office, great. Spruce it up and let it go. If you don’t have a whole room to work with, consider creating an office nook in a guest room, a corner of the living or family room or even a closet space. The goal is to give the buyer the idea that working from home in your beautiful space is an option should they desire it.

Living Spaces

Having too much furniture in a room makes it appear small and cluttered. You want buyers to be able to move freely through your living spaces. Edit out unnecessary freestanding cabinets, tables, trinkets, chairs and so forth. Maybe the way your living room furniture is arranged makes you happy. But does the sofa cover up great features like built-in bookshelves? Are the drapery’s or window coverings closed? Remember, think neutral, open spaces. Open blinds and draperies bring in natural light to warm up spaces. 

A working fireplace is a desirable asset for a family room or living room, regardless of the climate. Is there so much stuff on the fireplace mantle and hearth that the fine features aren’t shown to advantage? Pare down the accessories and clean the fireplace inside and out. Depending on the weather and time of year, light the fireplace before a showing when you can. If the interior looks old, buy some fireplace paint and give it a fresh coat. Pillar candles, birch logs and other simple accents draw attention to this feature. 

Make sure they can easily access your home’s best features like the fireplace or built-in bookshelves, and make sure they can look out all the windows. Avoid a cluttered look by minimizing items on the coffee table and not piling so many pillows on the couch that nobody can sit on it.

Of course, as with the kitchen, do a gut check on the wall colors in these large spaces. Maybe you love the peacock blue walls in your family room, but chances are few buyers will have the same favorite color. Greys, whites and other neutral colors make everything look newer, brighter, and less like your taste rather than your buyer’s. 

Spa-like Bathrooms

Wash, rinse, and repeat our advice on kitchens here: Consider repainting the room or at least the cabinets in neutral tones like soft greys or whites. Counters should be free of small appliances, hair products, etc. Perhaps it makes sense to replace fixtures. If not, make sure every surface is sparkling clean including the grout on the floor and in the shower and tub areas. Shower curtains, window treatments, and any rugs on the floor should be coordinated – you can always take any of these new purchases with you to your next abode. Fluffy white towels hanging on the towel rack, soothing artwork, a candle, scented hand soap in a non-generic dispenser, and a clutter-free space give a bathroom a spa-like feeling. 

Outdoor Oasis

Wherever you are – especially if you’re in sunny California – outdoor living spaces enhance the overall value of a home. A well-defined outdoor space can visually augment a buyer’s impressions of a small home’s “livable” footprint. Buyer’s with children will want a safe outdoor space that isn’t the park, if possible. You can find modestly priced patio sets and outdoor rugs at nearby home stores – again, you can take them to your place. 

As with the front yard and porch, buy fresh colorful pots of flowers to help create conversation areas around your outdoor seating. Make sure the yard is edged and mowed, put in fresh mulch and remove any dead or dying plants, tree limbs, or large piles of leaves. Any children’s play equipment should be safe and in good repair or should be removed. 

If you have a pool, pay special attention to maintenance, cleanliness, and seating. Even an older pool is inviting when the water sparkles and a cozy lounger awaits.

Make Smart Updates

Turning your home into a “smart-er” home can create an amplified impact on visitors, especially if you need to offset other upgrades that may not have taken place yet. You can find affordable smart home devices on Amazon, or in big box home improvement stores such as Lowes and Home Depot. Setting your home up with Smart Home devices can be a great marketing tool. 

Learn more in this related article Smart Home Upgrades that Attract Buyers in 2022 and contact us today. Whether you’re buying, selling or happen to be curious about your property value, our team can guide you on your journey. 

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