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Staging Your Home

Want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar? Staging can help. Staging is presenting your home in its best and most appealing light to the majority of home-buyers. In theory, staging isn’t hard or costly, but in reality, many homeowners find it difficult because it’s often hard to see something objectively when we love it. An easy way to see effectively staged homes is to visit decorated models. Decorating a model is expensive, but builders are willing to invest the cost because they understand just how well a staged home sells. You too can profit from this knowledge.

Basic Staging Rules.

  • #1 – Clean. Your home must sparkle! To achieve this level is often only feasible by hiring a cleaning crew. In fact, having a cleaning service return weekly while your house is for sale is probably a pretty good investment. Get your windows professionally cleaned inside and out too.


    #2 – Fix. Got a dripping faucet or a cracked tile? These will send the wrong message to potential buyers. Getting them fixed before you put your house on the market is a smart idea.

    #3 – Eliminate Clutter. The “50% Rule” requires that you eliminate the clutter in your home by at least half. This may be the hardest rule of all! We love our clutter … it reflects our memories, hobbies, and values. But it doesn’t sell homes! Clutter makes homes seem smaller and disorganized. (Have you ever noticed that the really expensive stores seem to have an expansive, clutter-free layout, while “cheap” stores are often a jumble of merchandise?) Even the ancient practice of Feng Shui has as a central focus the elimination of clutter.

    #4 – Executive Neutral. Neutral colors sell. It’s a fact. Try to convey an image of quality and neutrality. Potential buyers walking through your home want to imagine themselves as the owners. If you use styles or colors they would never select, you’ve just turned them off. Staying high-quality, but neutral is safest.

    #5 – De-personalize. Remove objects that your potential buyers won’t be able to identify with. For example, political and religious items may turn off whole groups of buyers, because they cannot “imagine” your home as their home. Buying a home is an emotional decision, and you want potential buyers to make an emotional connection with your home by being able to “see” themselves in it.

The Test.

Wondering if something is acceptable staging? Visit a model home to see if they do it. For example, can you leave your high-end, designer toaster out on your counter? Nope! You won’t find a single toaster in the kitchens of model homes. Can you display an artsy topiary tree on your kitchen counter? Yes. Model homes do!

Some Specifics.

Curb Appeal. They say you can only make one “first impression” and people usually form their first impression within 30 seconds. What potential buyers see when they drive up to your house will be their first impression. This is a good place to spend a little extra time and money. Plant flowers, trim bushes, weed, pick up leaves, repaint your front door, replace tarnished house numbers or a dented mailbox, get a brand-new neutral doormat, park your old care somewhere else.

The Entrance. The first glimpse inside your home should give potential buyers positive, uplifting feelings. Make your entryway as light and bright as possible. Leave all the lights in the house on. (Have you noticed that model homes do this?) Get rid of all area rugs. (Even authentic, high-quality carpets should normally be removed since they break up the expanse of floor space, making rooms look smaller.) Limit your cooking to very plain foods so odors don’t linger. (No cabbage, garlic, or onions!) On the other hand, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie smells are just fine! They evoke a homey feeling for almost everyone.

The Kitchen. Kitchens sell homes, so the importance of making your kitchen appealing can’t be underestimated. Clean and de-clutter! Anything taking up counter or floor space must go (the only exception would be the types of designer touches seen in model homes). Anything displayed on the refrigerator must go. If your cabinets are old, consider resurfacing them. If your counter knobs are old or out-of-date, replacing can be a relatively inexpensive “facelift.” If your cabinets are wood, get a wood-toned touchup stick from your home supply store and fill in any nicks and scratches. Shelves and pantries must appear orderly and very spacious. Potential buyers will be turned off by kitchens that seem to have inadequate storage space. Put those extra items in your newly rented storage unit or give them away!

The Bathroom. Again, clean and de-clutter! You absolutely must get rid of any mildew/mold. If you have a glass shower door, squeegee it after every shower. A mold-and-mildew remover and a soap scum remover can work wonders. Glass cleaning products do a good job of cleaning windows and mirrors (but be careful if you have brass fixtures since ammonia will cause these to pit). Do not display any personal toiletry items! Remove all deodorant, mouthwash, electric toothbrushes, etc. and put them in your cabinet. (Model homes never, ever display such items)) Pick up all bath mats and rugs. Keep your soap dishes pristine. If you have bars of hand soap, they should look new. Get a new set of high-quality, neutral, fluffy towels and display them. (Model homes always do this!)

Rest of the House. Clean, repair, de-clutter, and de-personalize! You’re going for that Executive but neutral look, since almost everyone can “see themselves” in a home like that.

  • Remove those knickknacks!
  • Remove enough items from your closet so you can hang a garment without touching the garment next to it … this could be difficult. (Extra and out-of-season clothes go to your newly rented storage unit.)
  • Remove area rugs.
  • Remove throw blankets.
  • Remove throw pillows (or replace with “designer” pillows)
  • If your houseplants are anemic, remove them. Replace with high-quality silk plants or healthy houseplants in attractive containers (no plastic!).
  • Take a hard look at your carpets. Are they stained or worn? Replacing carpets is often an excellent investment because it gives your home that “new” look that everyone wants. (Buyers have notoriously poor imaginations, so replacing existing carpet with neutral carpet is usually a much better idea than offering a “carpet allowance.”)
  • Leave all the lights on (No Burned-out light bulbs!)
  • Keep wastebaskets empty.
  • If possible, send your pets to stay with family or friends. As much as we love our pets, they can be a major negative distraction to potential buyers.
  • Leave your home before potential buyers arrive.

Summary. Once you accept the challenge that you’re turning your home into a “Model Home” to sell at top dollar and in record time, you’ve won half the battle. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts!

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