7 Tips on Staging Your House to Sell


The COVID-19 pandemic home real estate boom is starting to cool and could experience a correction soon. The sale of new homes fell nearly seven percent in June. Once the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program ends in September, and homeowners facing foreclosure decide to sell there could be even more homes entering the market. Should you need to move, selling your home means a return to taking the time and money to make it more attractive to prospective buyers. The seven tips below will help you stage your house, so it stands out no matter what the market does or doesn’t do in the future.

1. Clean your house and make minor cosmetic repairs

The first thing to do before you take photographs, or any prospective buyers view your home, is to clean it and clean it well. Consider hiring professional cleaners who have the right tools to get rid of pet smells, mildew and dirt in hard-to-reach places. Home buyers can notice stains, dirt and odors that you have learned to ignore.

Besides cleaning, also inspect your home for minor repairs that someone looking at your house might notice. For example, say there was a leak in your roof that caused water damage. You repaired the roof, but never got around to repainting the ceiling. Even a tiny water stain will make buyers think there could be hidden expensive issues they’ll have to take care of later.

2. Declutter and put your excess stuff in storage

When potential buyers look at your home, whether online or in person, they want to imagine themselves and their things there, not your stuff. Banish clutter and depersonalize your house by renting a storage unit, boxing excess items and removing bulky furniture. Your extensive collection of Final Fantasy video game bobble heads in the living room might make you smile, but it’s not going to beguile buyers.

Besides creating a blank slate for potential home buyers, removing a lot of stuff will make your home look larger and more attractive in photos on real estate apps like Zillow and Redfin.

3. Decorate in neutral colors

Paint walls a neutral color. It doesn’t have to be boring white. Colors like sand, beige, and very light grays work well too. If your furniture is also neutral, even better. And yes, you need some furniture in your house to sell it. Oddly enough, like cluttered homes, empty properties also can appear smaller to prospective buyers.

Neutral colors and furniture also help them picture what the house will look like when they live there. It’s ok to hang art on the walls but remove anything that isn’t generic. You can also accessorize your house with cushions, pillows and plants. Acrylic furniture such as a round table or two make great spots for planters and other greenery.

4. Update the kitchen

If you’ve ever watched an episode of House Hunters, you know that people are picky about kitchens.  If your prospective buyer walks into your house and sees outdated cabinets, or a lack of counter space, they’ll cross it off their list. Of course, remodeling a kitchen is also one of the most expensive things you can do.

However, if you don’t have the budget for a completely new kitchen that includes tearing down walls, new cabinetry, new counters and new appliances, don’t despair. Remove items from countertops to add more space to even the smallest galley kitchen. Repaint or stain old cabinets and replace door and drawer pulls. Repair any cracks and scratches and remember to clean everything thoroughly.

5. Upgrade the bathrooms

Another potentially expensive room to redo is the bathroom. However, just like the kitchen, there are budget options to stage your home, so it appeals to people looking to purchase a house in your neighborhood. Furthermore, upgrading a bathroom that hasn’t been changed since your house was built will convey the impression that your entire house is more up to date.

Again, you don’t have to gut your master bathroom or guest bath. Often just switching out the vanity and toilet are enough to make an outdated powder room look brand new. It’s an easy DIY project and you can find attractive options at your favorite hardware or home supply store. A fresh coat of paint, new towels, bathmats and shower curtains can also go a long way towards impressing future home buyers.

6. No mystery rooms

If your house has an empty room, you never figured out how to use or that you used as extra closet space, don’t leave it empty. There can be no question about the purpose of every room in your home in the minds of future purchasers. If it’s a small room you can’t picture as a bedroom, stage it as an office, nursery, art studio or sewing room. And if it’s an extra bedroom you never used, furnish it as a bedroom again.

A word on basements, if they’re finished, stage the rooms just like you would any other part of your house. Don’t try to stage unfinished basement rooms. It will look odd and could confuse buyers. Again, any finished rooms should be staged. If you don’t have enough furniture, there are businesses that specialize in renting furniture just for staging houses.

7. Refresh your exterior and landscaping

No amount of staging the inside of your house will matter if it has zero curb appeal. Make sure the exterior of your house looks just as great as the inside. If it’s been a while since you painted it, repaint the exterior in a neutral color. Now is not the time to go bright green or deep purple with your home’s exterior.

In some cases, your HOA might have guidance on what colors are approved for houses in your neighborhood. If not, research which paint colors are in vogue right now.

Next, look at your front yard. Is it overgrown and covered in weeds?

Are their dead trees and grass? If your house looks great but your landscaping is a mess, it’s going to turn away potential buyers. Furthermore, a picture of the front of your home is the first thing they’ll see on internet listings and real estate apps. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t even click on your home to see the rest of it, let alone schedule an in-person viewing with their realtor. Clean up your yard by pulling weeds, reseeding dead patches of grass and pruning overgrown trees and bushes.

Final thoughts

No matter what the housing market does in the future, by following the five tips to stage your house inside and out, you’ll be prepared, and your home will stand out above any others that are for sale in your neighborhood.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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