If you're trying to sell your home, you've probably already heard
about "home staging," a term applied to creating an environment
that helps potential purchasers envision living in your home. While
it's often done to new homes or those where the owner has already
moved out, it can also be done to occupied homes. The purpose of staging,
of course, is to create appeal; and, quite honestly, some homeowners
are more gifted than others in that area. If you're not one of the
gifted ones-and you may not know whether or not you are-ask for guidance.
If you are using an agent, ask their opinion, or ask friends. If you
need help, visit a few model homes. You can get some great ideas there.
Make notes of what you see in each room. You'll be surprised at how
the accessories differ from what we actually use in our daily lives,
but decorated models sell homes. Take advantage of what builders and
decorators have learned.
The exterior and front door must be inviting, and the entrance area
must be clean, and freshly painted. Paint or replace the front door
if necessary. If the lock or entrance handle doesn't look new, replace
it. Place colorful potted plants at the front entrance. If buyers
are turned off before they enter, it's almost impossible to turn them
The first impression you want buyers to have is one of cleanliness.
Hardwood floors must be free from all dust and should be polished.
If there is furniture, it should also be clean and polished. But make
sure the foyer doesn't feel crowded. Remember, prospective buyers
may be accompanied by agents, family, or friends, and they will pause
in the entrance area. Make sure there is sufficient room. Remove unnecessary
furniture and replace it with a live plant if that seems appropriate.
A kitchen can sell a home, but it must be great. If you have visited
decorated model homes, you'll notice that they never have appliances
on the kitchen counter, and there's a good reason for that. The room
looks bigger and better! Put away the coffee maker, blender, toaster,
etc. after each use. Sure it's a bit of a hassle, but you're going
for "Best in Class," and you won't be if you're not willing
to make a few small sacrifices.
NEVER leave dirty dishes, towels, or food in view. Your kitchen must
always be ready for the unexpected prospect that could show up with
little notice. Clean out the cabinets and pantry. If you find things
you haven't used in a year, you're probably not going to use them.
Donate or sell them. Buyers need to feel that their stuff will fit
in your space. When it's cluttered, you lose.
If you have an "eat-in kitchen" set the table or bar with
nice dishes and linen napkins. Place fresh flowers or a suitable arrangement-but
not so large that it overpowers the area. A setting for two is sufficient
unless you have an oversized table, and if you do, make certain it's
properly sized for the area. Every room must convey "spaciousness."
Rent a storage facility or borrow a friend's basement if necessary.
An interesting bottle of wine, napkin, and a couple of glasses can
generate an emotional tone that conveys serenity. If you do use wine,
don't use something cheap. Select a bottle with an attractive label.
It's critical that the kitchen feel spacious and inviting. With a
little work, you can make a small, average kitchen appear larger and
The dining room table and chairs must be clean and the table surface
should be polished to a brilliant shine. Once again, you must generate
a feeling of spaciousness. Remove any furniture that keeps the room
from feeling large. The chandelier should be sparkling clean and any
missing or burned-out bulbs must be replaced.
Set the table for four with your finest china, crystal, and linen
napkins. If you don't have something appropriate, borrow it. Add a
tasteful centerpiece, but not too large or too tall. Sit at the table
and make sure your imaginary guests could see each other with the
centerpiece in place.
The first impression of the master suite comes at the doorway. How
does it look? If the room is cluttered or crowded with too much furniture,
remove some. Nightstands should contain a lamp and alarm clock only.
If there is a phone, tissue, or medicines, put them away. If there
is sufficient space, a small vase with one or two roses is nice, and
perhaps one attractive book, but nothing more.
Does the room feel light and fresh? If there are heavy drapes or
window coverings, consider changing them to something that will allow
in more light. Walk to the window and check out the view; it's one
of the first things a prospective buyer will do. Is the view obstructed
or unattractive? Do whatever is possible to improve it-trimming shrubs
or trees, moving trash cans, dog houses, play equipment, etc. Remember,
the master bedroom should convey a feeling of security and be an enclave
The bed covering should be new or appear so and the bed should always
be neatly made. Some extra decorative pillows can accomplish a lot
for only a small investment. Rugs, carpet, and all flooring must be
clean and attractive.
Next check the master closet. A couple of hours spent here can pay
huge dividends. Neatness counts! Donate all clothing that is not being
used. Prospects will want to feel that the closet will accommodate
their clothes. Create some empty space. Three or four pairs of shoes
for each of you is enough. Store the others.
For most buyers, the master bath is next to the kitchen in importance.
Spend some time making it clean, neat, and sexy. Tile, tubs and showers,
counters, and fixtures should sparkle. If you have wallpaper, unless
it is simple and reasonably new, consider removing or painting over
it. Most bath wallpaper dates a house and makes it look old and dreary.
Clear the counter of all cosmetics, and all the items you normally
use in the morning, except for a bottle or two of nice perfume or
moisturizer. A nice decorative tissue holder, a candle, a small vase
and flower arrangement should be the only other things left in sight.
If you have a garden or jetted tub, add some sex appeal. Place a
nice bottle of bath oil, a couple of candles, and an attractive towel
at the ends of the tub or on the tub deck. Some tasteful artwork on
the walls can help to create a feeling that the bath is more than
just functional; it is a private escape from the stresses of the day.
Never leave towels or wash cloths hanging to dry, and clothes hampers
should be out of sight. Place new towels on towel bars, and, of course,
don't use them.
In most homes the family room is generally neglected. It's a room
where the family goes to relax, read, play, or watch TV. Unfortunately,
that means that it's cluttered with books, magazines, toys, tapes
and DVDs. Most have too much furniture, unsightly jumbles of electronic
equipment and TVs, and are frequently too dark. While a new owner
probably lives in a similar fashion, theirs is different, and they
will be turned off by yours. Make it neat, uncluttered, and easy to
navigate. If the room feels like an obstacle course, it is. Remove
extra furniture, with nothing left on coffee or end tables other than
lamps and one or two books. A nice dried flower arrangement on a coffee
table is all that is necessary.
Generally one of the most cluttered rooms in a home, the office is
where we accumulate the "stuff" that we'll attend to later.
Computers, related equipment, and the wiring that connects it all
are often unattractive, hazardous, and awkward. Piles of books, periodicals,
and bills are both unsightly and distract prospective buyers. Clear
your desk with only a few items showing. Bundle cables and wiring
and run it as neatly as possible. It's better for the room to appear
sparsely furnished than to have too much furniture. If the room appears
a little too bare, add a medium sized potted plant.
Most garages are unkempt, need painting, and are collection places
for junk. Clean it up, throwing away or donating anything you don't
use. Store the rest away from your home. If you've already begun packing
for your move, don't put the boxes in your garage; and don't put the
extra stuff you just moved out of your house. Prospective buyers need
to envision a space for their junk. If your garage is full, it won't
appear large enough.
Consider painting the floor. It's much easier to keep clean and will
look great. If there is a work bench, remove any tools or projects
stored on top. A neatly maintained pegboard or cabinet should be used
for all tools and equipment. While the kitchen and baths generally
appeal more to women, a super clean and neat garage appeals to both
Finally, if your home is unoccupied, that is, without furniture,
you can create vignettes in a few places to cultivate an environment
that is less cold. It's not necessary to purchase a lot of expensive
furniture to do this. A small budget can accomplish all that is necessary.
The objective is to attract a buyer. Tasteful staging can be done
with little expense and can pay huge dividends, and it may be helpful
to consult a professional stager. Whether you choose to do it yourself
or to use the services of a professional, the cost is small when compared
to additional months of payments. It's a decision that must be made
individually, but if you only use the above tips, you will dramatically
improve your chances of finding that one purchaser you need.