The past couple of weeks consisted of me shopping all the local thrift stores and Craigslist looking for items to fill our listed house. Many of the comments we recieve about Maple is it's cute but the basement ceiling is too low, the floor dips, and the spiral staircase is not going to work.
Mind you, the house is close to 100 years old: the floor is not even and the basement was not a basement 80 years ago. To draw peoples eyes away from it's imperfections, I tried to showcase what a wonderful home this is by showing it's potential. We call this STAGING.
Your home is your sanctuary. It's a place to showcase your life, memories, travels, etc. When selling your home, it is important to remember that the person looking to buy will be imagining where to put their favorite family picture, the statue they bought in Hawaii, their bookshelf with old books, and how their faces will look on walls. It creates a type of contention within a buyer to see other people's lives and memories posted throughout a home they are trying to see themselves in. When staging, replace your photos with generic landscapes or inanimate objects.
2.Clear the Clutter
Don't distract from the feel of your home by filling every inch with stuff. Make countertops look more spacious by placing a vase of flowers, bowl of lemons, or a kitchen-aid mixer and removing everything else. Especially take time in the closests. Visitors will take a peek in there. Clean it out to the bare minimum. Show them what it's like to have an organized closet. Don't forget to hide the doggie toys, cat tree, kid's toys, and clear out the garbage cans before showings. If needed, get an outside storage unit until the house sells.
This is the easiest, cheapest way to get your house ready to sell. Honestly, it might not be the easiest, but it is critical. Hire some help if needed. If you have pets, steam clean carpets to get out any smells or stains. Clean the windows, sinks, counters, floors, bookshelves...everything! There is no such thing as being too thorough. Take special note of the entrance: sweep the front stairs, wash the windows, wipe down the front door and shutters.This is the potential buyer's first look at your home.
4.Show the Flow
Help your buyers see how to move through the home smoothly. One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is having too much furniture in the home. This relates back to clearing clutter. Less is more. Move furniture off of the walls to create conversational areas. If possible, pairing up couches or chairs will improve visually seeing the conversational areas.
5.Bring the Outdoors In
There is something about seeing plant life that sparks emotional connections. Bringing vases of flowers, cactuses, bowles of fruit or veggies, or trees into your home will help potential buyers make a connection. Even fake plants--if they look good--will do the trick. Put a succulent on a pedastle with your soap, add a small aloe vera plant on your bookshelf, or put a large potted plant at the top of the stairs. If your selling during good weather, include plants on your porch or deck. Using air fresheners with scents like flowers, rain, a meadow, fruit or veggies ignites another avenue towards emotion: smell. The more you can access emotion and hit a buyer's senses, the closer you are to sealing the deal.
6.Make Each Space Have a Purpose
Do you have extra rooms downstairs that seem to hold all the Christmas decorations, extra chairs, or boxed winter clothes? It's time to show what these spaces can be used for: office, guest bedroom, reading room, exercise room, craft room, extra kids room, etc. Throw the extra stuff into the storage unit then purchase furniture from a local thrift store or borrow from a friend and set up a usable room. This includes the dining table. When empty, the dining table can make the room look empty and bare. Show visitors what it's like to use this space; add small vases of flowers and dinnerware.
7.Make Them Want More
Make the buyers want to continue through your ENTIRE house, not just the main floor. Entice them up the stairs by putting a piece of artwork, colorful rug, plant, hanging light, an accent wall SOMETHING that sparks their interest. Place items in corners, top and bottom of stairs, and in rooms to guide and draw buyers on.
This does not mean now is a good time to try out that interesting Pistachio color in your kitchen. Keeping the overall house neutral will appeal to more buyers. But using color will catch the eye, spark emotion, and differentiate your house from all the others for sale. Use colors in certain rooms to help buyers feel the purpose of the room. Bright colors encourage excitement, freshness and energy; include them in the kid's rooms or kitchen. Spa blues and greens envoke relaxation; use them in bathrooms and bedrooms. More examples include: a bowl of lemons on the table, a red throw blanket on the back of a chair, a vase of purple flowers on the dining table, a blue painting in the hall, soft green towells in the bathroom.
The outside of your house is still apart of your house, even if it's a small balcony or porch. Add a small, cafe-style table, rocking chair, or porch swing. Make the outside just as inviting as the inside: keep flower beds spruced, add black mulch to flower beds to enhance the colors of the flowers, mow the lawn, and keep everything watered and green.
10.Use Odd Numbers
Arranging accessories into odd numbers is pleasing to the eye. The Romans figured that out centuries ago. Grouping into threes or fives is especially appealling. Make sure you do not forget this rule on the walls.
11.Light It Up
Include lots of light into your home. This can come from lamps, floor lamps, hanging lights, etc. Good rule of thumb is having lighting for every 50 square feet. Open drapes and curtains to let in natural light. Incorporating mirrors on your walls or as accent pieces on end tables will help reflect both natural and lamp light throughout the room. Mirrors also help your rooms look larger.
12.Symmetry is Key
Even if this isn't your style, symmetry creates balance. More people lean towards symmetrical decorating. Draw a line down the center of your room, then make sure pieces match across that line. Pieces don't have to be exact matches: shoot for matching shapes, sizes, and density (which comes from how dark or light the piece is).
13.Make it Look Like a Home
Now that I've given you all of these tips, make sure your home looks just like what it is: a home. Make sure it looks like someone lives there. Keep it clean and clutter free, but show evidences of life: a washcloth in the sink, a (whole) bar of soap in the shower, bowl of veggies or fruit on the counter, fresh cut flowers in a vase, etc. Remember, in the end we are trying to show the wonderful things about our home to a potential buyer. Make them want your house by tapping into their emotions and senses.
Hit them with:
smell (fresh smelling air fresheners)
texture (layers, blankets, books, artwork)
sound (consider playing light music in the background)
taste (fresh fruit and veggies in a bowl or the smell of sugar cookies baking)
Good luck! And as always, there are many places around to help. Hire a professional, if needed.