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Home Staging Tips: Before You Sell Or Rent

By Lauramartindale @LauraMartindale

Whether you are trying to sell or rent your home, effective home staging will help you get more attention, command a higher price, and close a deal more quickly. There is little argument against the benefits of home staging, although doing it wrong can be worse than showing it empty and unfurnished.

The main goal of home staging is to give the buyer or renter the best possible impression of what the home would be like to live in,  without resorting to a major home remodeling project. Although an empty home might appear to be more spacious, it actually will seem more cold and uninviting, and cause the prospective buyer to focus on minor blemishes and imperfections that wouldn’t be so noticeable in a well-staged home.

First and foremost, you must keep it clean and eliminate the clutter – inside and out. You might love to have all those knickknacks, artifacts, pictures, and collectibles on display, but to a buyer it simply seems cluttered and closed in. The more clean, clear, and open you can present your home, the better. In fact, you should consider hauling a load to the local landfill, a.k.a. “the dump.” It even can be psychologically rejuvenating for you, as your home opens up. My husband and I love the occasionally home cleansing and trip to the landfill.

Start by taking down most of your family pictures. This might seem counterintuitive in that you expect your personal items will make the home seem warm and inviting. But in fact it makes a prospective buyer feel like she is invading someone else’s home, which makes it harder for her to envision it as her own.

Take down animal trophies and artifacts that might offend a buyer. You may be proud of the 5-point buck trophy and taxidermic mountain lion in your living room, but many buyers will be put off by it.

Enhance the ambiance by appealing to the visitor’s senses:  ample lighting, pleasing smells, soft music, open, clean, uncluttered, and dust-free. Brighten rooms with fresh, light, neutral tone paint. Be sure to take down heavy draperies and let in plenty of sunlight with light curtains and window treatments. Clean the windows and screens, and either replace or remove screens that are torn, bent, or rusty. Eliminate pet smells, but don’t simply use a lot of obvious air freshener to do so. Perhaps some potpourri would be in order. 

Examine your floors. Have the carpets cleaned, if they are still in good shape. Otherwise, replace worn or stained carpeting. Consider sanding and refinishing worn or scratched wood floors (unless you are going for a “distressed” look).

The easiest way to stage a home for dramatic transformation is with furniture, so find or borrow brighter, newer, more size-appropriate furniture. I have found terrific deals on great furniture using Craigslist.

Spruce up kitchens & baths. If tubs & sinks are badly stained, consider replacement or porcelain refinishing. Consider installing new faucets & fixtures if the old ones are leaky or rusty or otherwise unsightly. This doesn’t have to cost much. I like oil-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel (stainless) finishes. If the kitchen appliances are really old or have a 70′s-era color (like Harvest Green), consider replacing them, too.

Perhaps most importantly, maximize your curb appeal. After all, you can’t sell or rent the house if people won’t even stop to take a look. Clean up and cut back foliage (or add new plants, if needed). Haul away the old construction materials and broken lawn chairs that have been laying in the side yard for last several years. And an impressive front door helps a lot. Paint it black or red, or sandblast and stain it. 

Walk around the house. Is there dryrot on the window sills or other damage, mold, or mildew near windows where rain entered? Do you have a lot of spider webs in the eaves? Consider fixing leaks, power-washing the outside walls & eaves for spiders and dirt, and repaint the eaves and trim (and perhaps the whole house) if necessary. Also, you might want to hire an inspector to do your own pre-purchase inspection so you can identify and correct deficiencies in advance. Most of the findings would likely come out during the buyer’s inspection anyway, so the idea is to eliminate as many possible objections to the property as you can in advance.

Obviously, you can spend a little or a lot on your home staging, depending on the condition of your house, so create a budget and concentrate on the most effective enhancements within that budget.

Effective home staging entails a bit of cleaning, decluttering, paint, and updating, as appropriate, plus some well placed furnishings and ambiance enhancement. It will make a big difference in putting the best face on your house to get it sold or rented quickly and for top dollar.

Seek simplicity, comfort and value!


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