*This house staging post was sponsored by Travelers Insurance, and their Home Central site; an online resource on Travelers.com, where users can read home-related articles and learn about great tips for their home...all opinions, 80’s music references, and cheesy jokes are mine all mine.*
We’re talking about house staging tips today. But we’ll start this out with two little known, fun facts.
FUN FACT #1: I am a licensed real estate agent. And I’ve worked as an agent for the past 5 years. It’s kind of my fun, side gig.
I decided to get my license when the kids were smaller. Mostly because I wanted a way to escape my house from time to time, have an excuse to dress in clothing that wasn’t “faux” yoga pants (i.e. yoga pants that don’t really do yoga), and have conversations, at least once in a while, that didn’t revolve around bodily functions, PBS Kids, or remedies for diaper rashes.
FUN FACT #2…Dave and I are landlords, and have been now for over a decade.
We’ve purchased, managed, advertised, and rented multiple homes over the past decade. We currently have two homes, one single family home and one condo that we rent. We do all the work for them ourselves. So over the years, we’ve had to do a lot of house staging in order to attract renters for our properties. And it’s never taken us more than a couple weeks to get a home leased (without listing them on MLS or using a realtor/management company).
Why am I sharing these riveting fun facts with you? I want to impress upon you that while, usually, I have NO idea what I’m talking about,
TODAY, I DO.
A half decade in real estate combined with a decade plus as a landlord…mix that in with the experience of having bought and sold 5 homes of our own in the past 10 years, then top that off with the simple fact that I love houses…whether it’s decorating them or remodeling/renovating them…this whole house staging topic is definitely in my wheel-“house” ?.
So when Travelers asked me if I’d ever utilized their Home Central resource, I told them I hadn’t, but I’d love to check it out. So I did. They have some GREAT information available on on all things home-related. Topics to include selling and buying a home, renovating, home maintenance and more.
They’ve published articles on Home Central with tips for first-time homebuyers, steps for decluttering, safety during open houses, even a moving countdown calendar to help you get out of your home in 30 days without losing your mind.
They also tackle topics such as how to choose renovation projects to tackle that will yield the greatest return on your investment, and how to hire a competent contractor for the job if you’re not a big DIY’er or don’t have the time.
The house staging tips I’ll be sharing here today are a complement to an article they’ve already written on the topic. I’ve read through theirs, and added my own based upon my experiences. Packaged together, you’ll have an awesome roadmap for house staging that will draw a buyer for your home quickly, and help you maximize the profit you’ll make on the sale ? ?.
8 Expert House Staging Tips to Sell Your Home FAST & Maximize Profit:
Before we begin. I want to prepare you a bit for what you’re about to read. Selling a home is an emotional experience. And the process of house staging can be taxing emotionally as well. Many of these tips may sting a bit. Just remember that your #1 goal is to sell your home, as quickly as possible, for as MUCH money as you can possibly glean.
In order to do that, you will be best served by putting feelings aside. Feelings about everything from your family, to your pets, to your love for that amazing wallpaper you picked out for your baby’s nursery 10 years ago, or the stripes you painted in the dining room back in 2014 that took you 3 solid days to complete. SHELVE ALL OF THIS as much as you possibly can.
Try to look at your home as objectively as possible. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. What do you want to see, hear, smell, feel when you walk into a home you’re looking to possibly buy? If you can get to this place and think about your home with this lens on, then you are setting yourself up for success right out of the starting gate.
Let’s begin with one of the MOST potentially stinging recommendations, and get it out of the way first…
1.) Hide your children.
I’m SURE your children are PRECIOUS. I know they are. I know that those faces could sell ice to an eskimo. Oceanfront property in Arizona. But guess what? Little Cindy Loo and Billy Bob will NOT be able to sell your home to your desired buyers.
Why? Because buyers want to picture their OWN family in your home. If they don’t have kids, don’t like kids, are allergic to kids, etc…and the more they trip over Cindy Loo’s and Billy Bob’s dolls and Legos, the less they will love your home.
If they have to wade through a sea of Thomas the Train and Barbies in order to even step foot in a room in your house, the appeal of your house has already dropped by a factor of too many.
This is NOT personal, but we need to hide Billy Bob and Cindy Loo’s stuff when we are gearing up to sell a home. Declutter and pare down that kids gear as much as possible. And whatever stays must be stored NICELY and NEATLY. Keep it inside the home if you must, but ideally, renting a storage unit that either sits in your driveway, or is a couple miles down the road is a great plan.
The less kids stuff they see, the larger and more open your home will feel, and the more they will be able to envision themselves in the space. And that is CRUCIAL.
2.) Hide your pets.
Just like Cindy Loo and Billy Bob, I KNOW that your pets are AMAZING. Your cats are the funniest, your dog is the biggest sweetheart there is. But again, Tigger and Rover are NOT going to help you in your quest to sell your home quickly and for the biggest profit. In fact, they will hurt you.
I know this is CRAZY, but there are people out there who despise cats. They are scared of dogs. There are even people who are allergic to your animals. The LAST thing you want is for a buyer to enter your home and leave in anaphylactic shock. Smelling your pets is a big turn off to almost all buyers. Even the ones that like animals. Trust me. I’ve seen it a gazillion times.
If you have a friend or neighbor who would be willing to foster your pet while you’re selling your home, that is ideal. That goes for big pets, like your dog or cat, as well as small pets like hamsters, snakes, mice, etc. Many people think that the small pets are ok to stay, but not everyone likes seeing a snake in a house they are thinking of buying. Again, it’s nothing against Sammy. I’m sure he’ssss a sssenssssational sssnake, but just spying Sammy from afar may be enough to send some buyers running for the hillsss.
3.) Hide pictures of your pets and your children.
One of the reasons people love model homes so much is that they can picture themselves in a model home. Why is that? Because they aren’t personalized. They are made for the masses. No pictures of Cathy in her cap and gown. No prom pictures of Paul and his ex-girlfriend.
The story that a model home tells could be your story. It could be anyone’s story, and that’s the point. That’s what you want when you sell your home. Take down your family photos. Instead hang nice watercolors of the ocean. Everyone likes the ocean, right?
Take down your diplomas. When people see those on the wall, they gravitate to them because we are all nosey creatures. When they see you went to Tufts and you have a degree in accounting, they start picturing who you are…what kind of person you are…what your story is.
When they see all your personal items, buyers get off the track of wondering if they could see themselves living in the home, and they start wondering about you and your family. That’s not what you want at all. You want a potential buyer’s experience in your home to be about THEM, not you.
4.) Hide YOURSELF.
This one is possibly the WORST infraction of them all. DO NOT, I repeat…do not stay in your house as buyers are touring. JUST DON’T. I know you think you can answer questions about the home, tell them about all the wonderful, expensive upgrades you made. You can share how wonderful the neighbors are, and talk about the amazing community amenities.
I’ve seen this first hand many times over the years, and it’s painful to watch. It’s like watching your five year old bite it on his bike for the first-time…in slo-mo. Oooouuuuchhh.
If you must give them all the details, and sometimes that can be a WONDERFUL thing….do a write-up and leave it in the kitchen. If there is a feature like a built-in sound system that you think buyers may otherwise miss…post a sign on the wall. Post a couple signs if there are several features like that which don’t necessarily jump out, but are items that may impress buyers.
Don’t go insane with your sticky-notes, though. Limit yourself to around 5-6 TOPS, and then add the rest to your write-up that you leave in the kitchen, or pass that info along to your realtor to include in the flyer they produce for your property.
I’ve watched buyers be tormented by overly-excited sellers who insist on giving buyers the room by room tour of their property. The problem is that sellers are obviously financially and emotionally attached to their homes, and it’s hard to accept as a seller that not everyone will love our home. So if a seller is sticking around the house during a tour, they often aren’t picking up the “not interested” cues that buyers may be giving them.
5.) Sniff test.
A first date that ends with a bad kiss will not lead to a second date. Similarly, a home that smells badly will not lead to an interested buyer. They’ll break up with you before they make it past your foyer.
You ever go away for vacation, come back a few days later and think…”wow, this place smells kinda ripe.” We all get nose-blind to the smells in our home. But buyers are NOT nose blind. If anything, buyers are like a good sommelier. They are not only LOOKING at your house, they are smelling it, too. Mildewy basement? You better fix that STAT. Cat owners, take heed…litter boxes are a massive turn off. Home chefs with a flair for fish…I’m talking to you. No more salmon until your house sells. BAD SMELLS BREAK DEALS.
What can be done? We’ve discussed the pet smells. While your animal companions are at the sitters, get the carpet professionally cleaned. Use some well placed soaps in bathrooms to add a nice, but not overwhelming scent.
Some candles adds a nice touch of ambiance as well as scent, but unless there is an agent in the house who is lo0king after them for safety (like at an open house), then just place them in a space unlit.
We wrote about a couple of our favorite scentscaping tips here…
And for these little smell-good tricks, all you’ll need is some clothespins or popsicle sticks and binder clips.
JUST DO NOT OVERDO IT with scents. Almost, if not worse, than a bad smell is a stronger smell trying to cover it up. Buyers can be very discerning. They are all like detectives looking for any and every reason to not like your home. Don’t let your Glade plug-ins and last night’s tuna casserole be the reason.
This is a tough one for me personally, because I don’t do neutral very well. But when it comes to prepping a house to sell, neutral paint, and neutral decor is the way to go, for the most part.
If you have some rooms in your home that have very dark paint on the walls, consider painting them a light, bright, neutral color. Whites and light grays are good choices.
If you have loud wallpaper, busy curtains, a crazy duvet on your bed, etc…consider toning all that down. You don’t have to spend a ton of money in the process. Buy some cheap, neutral curtains at Wal-Mart, a yard sale, whatever. Or remove window coverings completely! Change out dark pillow covers for light. Make beds with light and bright, solid print linens.
If you get stuck, think about a pretty hotel you’ve stayed at, a spa that you loved, a picture of a bedroom in a magazine you really liked or a space in a model home that made you stop in your tracks, THAT is the kind of look to aim for.
7.) So fresh and so clean.
Speaking of magazine images, if you have any home magazine handy, go thumb through one right now. You’ll see a running theme. LIVE things. In almost every single magazine photo of any space in a home, you’ll see something living, be it fruit in a bowl, flowers in a vase, a little succulent or a big house plant.
There’s something about seeing something alive in a space that makes us like it more. So add a little bit of life to every room. Already moved out? Then opt for a fake plants! Fake citrus fruit in a bowl. Fake succulents and flowers. They make many that look surprisingly realistic nowadays!
8.) LET THERE BE LIGHT!
This tip may be the EASIEST to accomplish, and the most important of them all. If you are selling your home, keep the curtains OPEN and the blinds UP! Turn on every. single. lamp, chandelier, overhead light, under cabinet light, closet light you have before you leave your house. You want to let as MUCH light into your home as humanly possible. Buyers like light. LOTS and LOTS of it. I have never had a buyer walk into a home and say, “Know what Heather? There is just way too much light in here for us.” DOES NOT HAPPEN.
When buyers tour your house with an agent, 9 times out of 10, they will be entering your house together. It would be great if agents had 10 minutes to walk through your house prior to the buyers arriving in order to turn on all your lights, open all the shades, etc.
But when an agent is touring multiple homes with a client, the client is typically right on the agent’s heels as the front door swings open. So if you haven’t left the house with lights on and window treatments open, the buyers may not see the home at it’s best. And that’s super unfortunate.
Already moved out? Put lights (interior AND exterior) on timers. If your home is in a safe neighborhood, and you feel comfortable doing so, leave as many curtains and blinds open as possible even in your absence. It will make your showings much more positive.
Final thought on this topic: LIGHTBULBS MATTER! Make sure you have working bulbs in every fixture and lamp (including the light under your microwave, under cabinet lights, lights in your storage areas, etc)! And opt for warm (soft white) bulbs rather than cool or daylight varieties. Warmer bulbs make a house feel more cozy and comfortable to most buyer’s eyes.
And that’s it, friends. If you follow these house staging tips and tricks, I guarantee that your home will show better, and buyers will be interested faster and willing to offer more than they would have had you not implemented these concepts. I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand. Good luck in your home selling mission! And best of luck in finding and starting the next phase of your life in a new home ❤.
P.S. Don’t forget to head to the Travelers Insurance Home Central site for more homeowner tips and other great resources!
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