Staging Your Home for Sale

Minimal style yields maximum return

After selling your home yourself, the next best thing you can do to ensure a good sale price for your home is stage it. By preparing your home to show it to its best advantage, you can sell your home faster and for more money.

Once you've made the decision to place your home on the market, you need to mentally move out of your home. Start thinking of it as a product for which you want to get top dollar. To do that, you need to stop thinking of it as home where you can store your collections of Beanies and egg cups, work out on the eliptical trainer while you watch TV in the livingroom, or where the kids' toys are scattered from one end of the house to the other. Your house is potentially someone else's home and your job is to facilitate their making that connection the moment they walk in.

Start at the curb

Curb appeal is the first step to selling your home. You have to compell them to stop, write down the phone number, and call to schedule an appointment. The only way a buyer will do that is if your home appeals to them on an emotional level. The key words to focus on include:

Whether you start from the ground up or the roof down, your home needs to be immaculate. No one wants to buy a previous owner's dirty house. Removing moss from the roof and lawn, powerwashing the siding to remove accumulated dirt, washing windows until they sparkle are tasks that you can do yourself or have done by a service. Trees, shrubs, and flowers should be neat and tidy, the garden weeded, the plants deadheaded. and the lawn mowed and edged. Store garbage cans out of site and remove anything, including toys, that might detract from your home's appeal.

Once you've removed everything that isn't useful or appealing, you can add touches to welcome visitors.

Clean sells

Once you've set a buyer's expectations with a promising exterior, you need to capture their imagination with the interior. The key to staging is to make it meaningful, set the tone, and suggest infinite possibilities. That means you need to remove most of what you own. This is a major decluttering opportunity. Remove everything that could distract the buyer's attention. Keep only what you must to remain functional. If you don't use something everyday, pack it for moving, and boxes into storage off site if possible.

Like the exterior, the inside needs to be scrubbed from stem to stern. Clean sells. Wash walls, windows, woodwork, and closets, cupboards, and drawers inside and out.

Make small repairs yourself. Replace broken faceplaces and tighten screws. Regrout tile and recaulk sinks, showers, and bathtubs. Make sure everything works the way it should.

If paint is showing signs of age, repaint. Neutrals are often the best solution for repainting though you can broaden your definition to encompass muted greens, blues, and browns in addition to the standard grey, beige, taupe, and off whites normally seen. Painting will be particularly advantageous if you've painted rooms very distinctive saturated or dark colors.

Refinish hardwood floors to show off that major asset. If you think the new owners will need to refinish the hardwood floors, do it for them. It will come back to you as good karma and more money. Be cautious about coating them with high-gloss polyurethane. It's nice from a maintenance standpoint, but some people don't like the artificial shininess of some finishes. A good rule of thumb is to keep the flooring as close to the original condition as possible, especially if yours is an older home.

After setting expectations, go for broke

Once the house is clean with fresh paint and flooring changes out of the way, stage your home with minimal furnishings. If you need inspiration visit some model homes to see how decorators have put rooms together.

Clear out closets, cupboards, and drawers. Remove all duplicates. Pack everything you don't expect to use in the next two months. Think about displaying items. Think about how items are used and where they would best be stored when not in use. Store the vacuum in a logical place; once you pack half of your stuff, you may find the perfect location for necessities. The goal is to make the buyer, open a door and say, "Ah, vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies. Good."

Whatever you do, simplicity and comfort is the bottomline.


To stage your home, consider hiring a maid service to help with the deep cleaning. ContractorNexus can provide recommendations for local professionals.

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