Recently, my family and I have decided to downsize from our 3,600 square foot suburban home (shown above) to a 1,400 square foot city apartment. Over the last six weeks, I’ve been staging our home to sell. As a staging professional, I’ve worked with quite a few homeowners to help them declutter, organize, and update their homes. But now, as I’m readying our own home, I’ve uncovered even more staging tips and tricks. So now, from an entirely empathetic position, I’ve outlined these lessons step-by-step. If you’re a homeowner considering a move or a Realtor working with sellers, this article is for you.
The first step I undertook was decluttering every space. Even though our home is generally tidy, this step still took approximately 30 hours to complete. Not surprisingly, the attic and garage were the most time-consuming. Many homeowners wait to go through these secondary spaces after the move but investing the time before the home sells saves moving and storage costs and make the home appear more spacious.
In our attic, children’s artwork, printed photos, and holiday decor took up a lot of space. We also stored unused furniture items here, such as an extra bar stool, pieces handed down to us by relatives, and items from previous homes. In this space, I discovered that:
- Artkive is an excellent resource to convert boxes of your children’s artwork into a single, professional photo album
- Scanmyphotos.com will digitize your printed photos so you can store them electronically
- I don’t need most of the holiday decor that I’ve been storing. Moving forward, I’ll decorate more with organic, consumable materials such as greenery, flowers, etc. that don’t need to be stored afterward. I purchased holiday bins (clear plastic with colored tops), so I can see at a glance which items are for Christmas, Halloween, or Easter. I currently have four boxes of Christmas, one box of Halloween, and one box of Easter
- We donated the furniture pieces that we’d been clinging to
- I discarded or donated approximately 12 boxes that I had simply carted from attic to attic over the years. These boxes contained old CDs, retired electronics, useless papers, and more.
Now, when I go into the attic, I’m so happy. It’s clean and open and there won’t be much to move.
A clean, well-organized garage can help sell the home. Ours was a mess and even though it adequately accommodated two cars, it looked small and cramped.
- We had quite a few duplicates in our garage–4 hammers, 3 rakes, 2 snow shovels, etc. We donated items that we had extras of, didn’t work well, or we wouldn’t need in our next chapter
- We removed one large shelving unit and all of its contents
- We moved some items off-site, such as beach and camping gear, large coolers, a wheelbarrow, folding tables, etc. that we wouldn’t need access to while the home was listed
- We relocated our two trash cans from the garage to the side of the house
- We gave the garage a thorough cleaning
This has been the least enjoyable step so far. It’s no fun replacing a lantern with a chipped piece of glass, or a front door handle that’s peeling. These items seem small, but they make a big difference when buyers tour your home.
- A tip here is to make a list of needed repairs and tackle them quickly. In our case, we’ll bring in a handy person to take care of the items that we can’t do ourselves
- It’s also helpful to have your Realtor walk through the house to see if he or she spots anything you may have missed
In a recent survey, 83% of buyers agents said that staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Making your home look like new again is key. This step has been the costliest for us. We’re replacing our 5-year-old carpet throughout the house, painting most of the exterior and interior, and power washing our deck and outdoor furniture. Many homeowners skip this step because of the cost. They reason that the new owners may want to paint with another color or select a different flooring.
- Don’t skimp here–give your home fresh touches of paint, powerwash your outdoor spaces, replace flooring as needed, and professionally clean if at all possible
- Add fresh mulch to planting beds to make those look new
- Plant new plants in pots around the home
Once you’ve minimized, repaired and rejuvenated your home, it’s time to rearrange and accessorize! The most important staged rooms for buyers are the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. A professional stager can add a lot of value during this step. He or she can bring in stylish throw pillows, artwork, bedding, kitchen accessories, towels, rugs, and flowers that would otherwise be costly to purchase.
In my own home, I’ve brought in new accessories and removed our worn bath rugs, towels, and used bedding and pillows.
- Do this step last. If you’ll be living in the home while it’s on the market, you want your soft goods to appear as new as possible.
- Bring in fresh produce, houseplants, and flowers on listing day and refresh them during open house events
- It’s hard to stay objective in your own home. Take photos of your spaces to see it as a buyer would online. Most buyers find their homes online, so experiment with different vignettes to see what works best. Your Realtor can also advise you on where to accessorize for the greatest impact
- Don’t forget your pantry and closets! Buyers will see these spaces, too. Repetition in these spaces is essential–use the same baskets, bins, or jars to catch your buyer’s attention
We’ll be listing our home soon and are excited to take this step towards a simpler life. As you ready your home for buyers, remember why you are selling and where you want to go. It will be worth the effort! Of course, if you want someone to take care of all of this for you, contact Zesty Staging. Selling can be stressful, but staging should be fun.