Top 10 Tips for Staging Your Home and Selling it Fast


By: Susan C. Kim
 
A real estate slump is a real drag, especially if you’re trying to sell your abode. So stage your pad to beat out the competition and draw in more prospective buyers. Most buyers have a hard time looking past pink walls and green shag carpet, so do the legwork for them and present their “new home” on a silver platter. If done smartly, the money spent staging will be made up tenfold in the house sale — and you keep all the hot accessories for yourself afterwards (or unload them on Craigslist).
 
Here are some tips I used when staging my San Francisco condo. This unit sold within a month and a half for just below asking price. The exact same (un-staged) unit, located one floor down, never even got an offer. So there you have it.
 

 
1. Clear it all out. Move every single thing out of your place. That goes for your beloved troll doll collection, leopard skin rug, and the couch your mom claims you were born on. As sentimental as these things might seem to you, buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space; seeing clothes in the closet, family photos, and random tchotchkes prevents them from doing so. Then place back in only necessary furniture, keeping in mind that you want the space to look big, clean, spacious, and uncluttered. This isn’t supposed to be a functional room. Nope. As I did in this living area, you can lose the TV, stereo, side tables, and ottomans if it creates more room.
 

 
2. Freshen up the style. You may be a diehard Shabby Chic follower, but even Rachel Ashwell would agree that not everyone is. Aim for a style that most buyers would like, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Furnishings that seem homey and comforting — yet fresh and contemporary — give an aura that your home is updated and well cared for. Neutrals work best; just add colorful touches here and there. For this home office, I used a bright rug to punch in some color and pattern to an otherwise boxy white room. The clear console stands in for a desk (if buyers saw my real desk stacked with papers and dirty coffee mugs, they’d run for the hills). Curtains hide the closet doors and soften the hard walls. Stick-on mirrors from IKEA reflect light and space.

 


 
3. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest one of all? Your room, that’s who. Use mirrors liberally to make your area look bigger, lighter, brighter, and encourage sunlight to bounce all over the walls. In this small dining area, the mirror even adds color by reflecting the painting that’s hanging in the living area. How’s that for working double duty?
 
4. Don’t forget the details. Set the table. It’s easy to do and makes a big impact. Buyers walk in and instantly feel welcome, like as if they’re coming over for dinner. Light clean- or non-scented candles, place plush towels and fancy soap in the bathrooms, a breakfast tray on the bed, and a pretty book on the coffee table. If all goes as planned, they’ll want to stay over forever.
 

 
5. Play with texture. Wallpaper, pillows, rugs, blankets, baskets, and other tactile accessories can play up texture in a room. It’s an easy way for anyone, even my colorblind husband, to add warmth to a blah room. Try grass cloth wallpaper on plain walls that need a little oomph, such as in this master bedroom, where buyers expect to see a little more luxury and style.
 

 
6. Smart accessories. I cleared this kitchen counter of appliances, spice racks, towels, and cooking utensils and left only a few things: a couple of cookbooks and a shiny tea kettle. Random? Not at all. The gourmet cookbooks give the impression that this kitchen is built for serious cooking. It’s called “branding” — and it’s what advertisers bombard you with every day. You’re advertising your home, so buyers need not know that your cooking skills are actually a fire hazard to your own kitchen. The cookbooks here say culinary creations might have been whipped up here.
 

 
7. Small furniture, big space. It’s the trick of the trade: downsize your furnishings to upsize the room. Here, I got rid of the king-size bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and a bookcase; can you imagine what this room looked like with all that stuff crammed in there? I replaced it with a queen-size bed, a mirror, and two tiny lamps placed on footstools. That’s it. The one thing I regret is not ironing those sheets very well; it would have looked so much neater.
 
8. Create vignettes. Set up little scenes that help buyers visualize their potential life in this home. For the nursery, I wanted the buyer to walk in and say, “How lovely, I could totally see my future baby sitting in that chair nicely reading a book.” Now, if I can just get my own baby to do that….
 

 
9. Don’t forget the outdoor areas. Those spaces add as much interest for the buyer as the interior rooms. For this unsightly roof deck, I added inexpensive bamboo sheeting to the rail, an outdoor rug, small table and bistro chairs, and a few plants. Now the buyers will see this formerly blank space as an additional living area. Bonus.
 

 
10. White is nice. When in doubt, use white in the bathroom. It spells clean, and that’s what buyers want in a bathroom. Plus, it matches the toilet. (Note the absence of bath rugs, toothbrushes, and fuzzy toilet covers).

 

For more tips on organizing or selling your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

The Real Scents That Will Help Sell Your House


* Written by Neila Deen, Houzz

 

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you’ve probably made a list of items to tackle around the house. Declutter your rooms, paint the walls, fix any broken or worn items. Certainly, maximizing the visual appeal of your home is essential when staging to sell. But there’s one very important task to add to your list: making sure your home has a scent that will please the masses.
What exactly is a crowd-pleasing scent? That may seem a matter of debate, since an aroma’s appeal can be quite subjective. But there are definite strategies to follow. Read on for five guidelines for creating a pleasant home scent for prospective buyers.

 

1. Start with a deep clean.
Cleaning your home when prepping it for sale means scrubbing the nooks and crannies of all hard surfaces until they shine, as well as washing or vacuuming all fabric items, such as bedding and drapes. This heavy-duty cleaning approach should eliminate minor unwanted odors and introduce a clean, refreshing scent throughout each room.
Try using unscented or subtly scented cleaning products — those that are plant-based or eco-friendly and natural can be good choices. If you do use ammonia- or bleach-based cleansers, look for ones infused with fresh scents like lemon to help negate the harsh chemical smell.
For carpets and rugs, a good vacuuming or steam cleaning should do the trick. Unless you’re on a mission to remove heavy pet odors, try not to use perfumed rug shampoos, since the heavy detergent odors tend to linger.
2. Eliminate food and pet odors.
Whether you’re a cat lover or a gourmand, you may no longer notice the odors from pets or cooked food in your home. But for a potential buyer, these smells are at the very least distracting, and in some cases may even be offensive. Remember, buyers are there to view your home and — hopefully — to imagine themselves living in it. You don’t want them focusing on any unwanted odors. To gauge whether such odors are noticeable in your home, ask a friend whom you can trust to tell you the truth.

In the case of food, it typically takes a couple of days for the smell to disappear after you’ve cooked something that has a pungent aroma. As a rule of thumb, try not to cook with pungent ingredients for four days prior to a showing. But if you regularly cook with such foods — again, rely on that trusted friend to let you know if any smells are lingering — more drastic measures may be needed. Options include having a professional steam-clean your upholstery and carpets and deep cleaning the kitchen with a fresh lemon cleanser. Another great way to remove food odors is to simmer coffee beans in a pot on the stove. Also, be sure to keep your spices in sealed containers. If possible, air out the home by keeping the windows open for several hours a day.
Eliminating pet smells might require a bit more than a deep cleaning. These odors often live in carpet, rugs and upholstered furniture. Popular carpet or upholstery cleansers might just mask the smell instead of eliminating it.
For heavy pet smells, I recommend having your carpets and upholstered items professionally steam-cleaned well in advance of your first showing. This will give any lingering detergent smells time to fade. If steam cleaning doesn’t get rid of the odors, replacing a still-smelly item with a non-upholstered version will go a long way toward making your home more appealing to a buyer.
One more tip: Be sure to remove your dog bed or litter box before a showing
3. Keep it fresh and simple.

When it comes to choosing a scent to permeate your home, refrain from breaking out the potpourri — and forget the conventional wisdom about freshly baked cookies. Instead, take the advice of professionals like Eric Spangenberg, dean of the University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business. He cautions against using complex or mingled scents, because his research suggests that people can be distracted by a mixture of smells — they subconsciously spend a portion of their cognitive energy trying to identify the scent.
Spangenberg advises sticking with one simple scent, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the following are some of his top choices for open houses: orange, lemon, basil, tea, cedar, pine, vanilla and cinnamon.

 

 

Whether you choose to introduce a scent via reed diffuser, candle or fresh ingredients, make sure no other scent is mixed with it. Lemon should not be mixed with orange, for example. This will allow your potential home buyer to stay focused on the task at hand.
4. Less is more.

Introducing a simple scent to your home-staging efforts doesn’t necessarily mean you can drench the home in that one smell. Remember, less is more: You want potential buyers to appreciate the home, not be bowled over by an overwhelming smell of lemons.

 

One way to achieve a subtle scent is to use just one reed in a diffuser. Alternatively, if you select a scented candle, burn it briefly before the open house starts. Look to organic scented products — as opposed to synthetic alternatives — as they tend to be more muted and give off less of a chemical smell.
5. Let the scent reflect the space.

Finally, select a scent that is appropriate for the general environment and aesthetic of the home. For example, if you have a lot of wooden beams and walls, cedar might enhance the ambience.
If there’s no noteworthy natural feature nearby, don’t worry. For your clean and sparkling-white kitchen, a crisp lemon scent would certainly convey an uplifting feeling to a buyer. In other words, choose a scent that speaks to the general feeling of the home and underscores its positive attributes.
To read more tips on staging your home, check out these other Houzz articles:

See More Perfectly Staged Kitchens

Learn More Clever Strategies From Home Staging Professionals
9 Smells You Actually Want in Your Home

Get Your Home Market-Ready


We’re always on the hunt for tips and advice to help our buyers, sellers, and future clients. Today, we found a great infographic on Pinterest for current or future sellers. Below is a guide put together by the Real Estate Staging Association that outlines some tips for getting your home ready for the housing market. It includes ideas for organization, repairs, and how to present your home to buyers in the most appealing ways. To see more tips like these, check out our board dedicated to buyers & sellers.

 

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