Smart staging involves interior design elements, psychology, storytelling, marketing, composition principles, and knowledge of the local market and trends. For showings, you want the house to look like an artfully arranged photo in a home and garden magazine. Real estate agents often say the goal of staging a home for showings and open houses is to make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves in that house. Here are some tips for stylish staging for not a lot of money.
Pre-Pack and De-Clutter
Depersonalize and eliminate clutter as much as possible; pack away personal photos, souvenirs, and non-essential personal items. Take a brutal look at the clothes closets and weed out items you haven’t worn in years. There’re likely boxes and boxes of extra stuff you could gather up and donate to charity. It’ll cost a couple of bucks for packaging tape.
But it may be time for a storage space (about $50 a month for a 5 x 5 foot unit) for things you want to keep but don’t need, particularly extra furniture. Some experts recommend packing up as much as 90% of your house.
Clear off the countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, reduce items in cupboards, and toss everyday personal items in attractive boxes or baskets. After you’ve cleared away all the clutter, reorganize cabinet contents in neat rows and stacks.
Clean Clean Clean
A dirty, stinky house will send buyers fleeing. This is the time to hire a professional cleaning crew to do a deep clean of everything: the baseboards, garage, shower grout, ceiling corners, kitchen walls, and all the windows. A professional crew will hit all those hard-to-reach places and get your house looking clean and new. It may cost around $100 for a 2,500-square-foot home.
Before a showing, be sure to eliminate odors; they may be more noticeable than you realize. Hide or remove litter boxes, shampoo carpets, and spray air freshener in pet areas. Real estate agents often suggest baking cookies or simmering cinnamon sticks in water.
Don’t Forget the Exterior
The exterior and entrance are the first things buyers will see, setting the tone for their first impression of the house. Power through all the usual landscaping chores like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, weeding, pruning, and clearing the gutters.
Then it’s time to break out the big guns: Borrow you neighbor’s pressure washer or rent one from Home Depot for $40 to $80 a day. Hiring a professional may cost you $250 for a 2,500 square-foot house. Wash the house exterior, walkways, and driveway.
Re-paint doors and window and floor trims. Spread mulch ($3 a bag) to ensure the landscaping looks neat and trim.
This is the fun part: You get to play interior designer. Professional stagers like to create photo-shoot ready “lifestyle vignettes” in each room. Here a few ideas:
- Create scenes with focal points: Place a large plant in a visible corner with a spotlight behind it. Set up conversation spots in the living room.
- Use accents to draw attention to features: Strategically place little plants (succulents are cute and easy), wrought iron, metallic, or glass lamps, and brass or silver mirrors and trays.
- Bring a bit of the outside inside: Establish a natural flow through the house with potted plants, flower arrangements, and cuttings tied with ribbon or raffia.
- Pops of color: Try accent pillows and candles in purple, teal, olive, and/or light yellows. Add a vase of red flowers or a colorful picture above the mantle.
- Grab a few glass accessories from thrift stores. Set up a tray with two coffee cups and cloth napkins or a glass bowl with candies to make the kitchen cozier.
More Tips and Tricks
Here are more tips and tricks for staging a house for sale:
- Can’t afford to redo the cabinets? Paint kitchen or bathroom cabinets a smooth white finish to modernize and brighten. A professional painter could cost a few thousand dollars depending on the size.
- New knobs and handles is another cheap way to update kitchens and bathrooms.
- In the bathrooms, add decorative hand towels, dried flowers, and candles.
- Dated tub and shower? Consider painting them with epoxy paint in more modern colors for $800.
- A vacant bedroom needs a bed? Fake it with moving boxes or an air mattress with a folding frame covered with a comforter.
- Master bedroom a little drab? Invest $100 on a luxurious new comforter set. Hang sheers or drapery behind the bed.
- Walls with scrapes or oddly dark or harshly bright colors need a fresh coat of paint. Spend $12 to $50 for a gallon of neutral paint (off white, tan, khaki, or beige) for a large return on investment.
- Make small changes to ensure each room has a distinct purpose.
- Rearrange the furniture so important features are not blocked and there’s a natural traffic flow.
Strategic staging is one of the reasons sellers hire real estate agents: helping make their houses attractive to prospective buyers. If you want to learn more about the real estate business or train to become a real estate agent, 360training.com offers an on-demand library of interactive online real estate courses.