Preparing your home for showings, or Home Staging, can be an overwhelming task for any For Sale By Owner [FSBO]. Do your research, and learn how to invest wisely in the professional staging of your home!
The longer you own a home, the more “stuff” you acquire. Over the years, you tend to overlook the clutter and fail to notice things that may be obvious to guests in your home. For example, closets bursting at the seams…
This is one of the main reasons that Home Staging has become so popular. There are dozens of network television programs (HGTV is watched widely in North America!) that prove that dressing your home for success equals a better response from buyers and, usually, a quicker sale. Effectively using this imperative marketing tool not only increases your chance of success in the FSBO market, it also increases the overall appeal and value of your home.
Whether you decide to hire a professional home stager or do-it-yourself, the first step is the same: take a step back and change your point of view. Your house is no longer your home… Instead, it’s an investment for your future! You want your home to have an eye-catching impression and to appeal to your target market.
Basic principles of home staging for a For Sale By Owner [FSBO] can involve simple tasks like cleaning, deluttering, organizing, rearranging furniture, and even packing up and storing your personal items- this allows buyers the ability to imagine their own possessions in the home. Finally, focus on improving lighting, color themes, or otherwise enhancing the crucial areas of the home on which buyers will focus, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Top 10 Tips to ‘Successful Staging’
1. Curb Appeal
“Curb appeal” speaks to a buyer’s first impression. Depending on the season, you may want to install flowerbeds or planters, boasting colorful and attractive flowers to enhance the first impression. Other ideas include: a clean and inviting welcome mat; new and shiny door handles; a freshly-painted front door; neatly trimmed grass, trees, and shrubs, etc.
Stand at the end of your driveway and look at your home from a buyer’s point of view.
Obviously, the season will affect the decor, but make the first impression of your home a good one. A little time and effort will help to attract the eye of potential buyers!
Remember, you are now “staging” your home. So you are going to focus on preparing your home for showings; this means reducing your standard level of “clutter”. A cluttered house may give the impression of being poorly maintained, as well as making the home look a lot smaller than it actually is.
Now is the time to go through the home, room by room, and take out everything but the bare essentials. Keep in mind that you are eventually moving, so now would be a good time to go through all of your collected possessions. Decide what to keep for storage and what to throw out or donate. You may surprise yourself at how many things you have been storing, which you don’t really need to hold on to anymore!
Many people rent a storage locker to safely pack and store all unused treasures for future use in their new location, after the sale. Home staging requires space, so check and re-check- strip down to the basics. In sum, pay particular attention to the following areas:
- No piles of anything, anywhere!
- Bookshelves are to be almost completely packed up. If you insist on keeping your bookshelves in the room, ensure that the shelves are sparsely decorated with accent pieces only. Pack up your encyclopedia set and your DVD collection.
- Every closet needs to be cleaned out. Linens may need to be neatly refolded, and all extra, unused linens should be packed away. If it is not being used, pack it up. Approach every closet in the same manner. When finished, every closet should look well-organized and spacious.
- De-clutter and empty out as much as possible from the garage. Buyers will be interested in how much space is available; fewer items equals more space.
- Take everything off the walls and replace only a few items. Select impersonal artwork; avoid family photos, awards, and certificates.
- Take everything off the shelves. No knickknacks, photo displays, movies, books, magazines, or personal collections of any kind. You don’t want to distract potential buyers with ships in bottles, or your prized glass elephant collection…
- Remove appliances from the kitchen counter. If you’re not using it, pack it up. Create open, clean space.
- Minimize the volume of furniture. Too much large-sized furniture takes up valuable space and may make the room look small. Select only the pieces that enhance the room. Remember, you are dressing your home for showings and not for personal comfort.
3. Clean, Clean, Clean!
This should be common sense, but you may be surprised to realize that not everyone has the same standard of clean… A sparkling home gives the impression of one that is well cared-for. A crisp, clean smell is always inviting.
4. Let The Sunshine In
Open all curtains and blinds. Natural light enhances the presentation of any room. If the view from one or more of the rooms diminishes, rather than enhances the appeal, tilt the blinds to allow light in, but not a full view outside. Turn on all the lights, upstairs and down. Never allow a buyer to enter a dark, dismal room.
Some sellers cannot see the benefit of de-personalizing their home, but there are some key reasons to do so. When staging your home as a For Sale By Owner [FSBO], the point is to make it look like it could be anyone’s house, not just yours. Buyers want the opportunity to visualize their possessions in your home. That can be very hard to do if everywhere you look there are personal reminders and pictures of your family.
Personal items can also inadvertantly feed an existing prejudice. For example, a seller who leaves his PhD Certificate in Psychology hanging in the office may intimidate a buyer with a lesser education. Their resulting insecurity might possibly extend to feeling taken advantage of, or caught in a contract loophole. In another instance, a family photo with a single parent can potentially fuel the impression of a “desperate seller”, who may be lacking the financial support as presumed in the case of two working parents. Finally, a family picture with two parents, but only one seller, may indicate recent hardship caused by divorce or death. This can create the impression of a forced sale and may encourage low-ball offers from buyers. Other impressionable items, such as those relating to religion or culture, may also, unfortunately, negatively impact how a buyer perceives the homeowner.
De-personalizing the home eliminates any false impressions that may negatively affect your negotiating power. In the end, de-personalizing can actually help increase your final sale price.
Paint is probably the cheapest way to enhance any room. Repair all chips and dents, and prepare walls in a professional manner. Nothing is worse than a poor paint job, which can actually decrease perceived value, rather than increase it.
The majority of stagers choose fresh, neutral colors and earth tones for heavy traffic spaces, such as living rooms, hallways, kitchens, etc. Accent walls in living rooms and bedrooms are very popular, but color choice is a deciding factor in the room’s appeal. Avoid dark or shocking colors. Many For Sale By Owner [FSBO] sellers use drapes, blinds, paintings and built-in features to tie rooms together, creating a steady flow of color/decor from room to room.
A professional home stager can be a great asset when it comes to color and decor, even if you are a For Sale By Owner [FSBO] on a restrictive budget. Consultations can usually be booked for a reasonable price, and help to ensure you are making wise and profitable choices.
7. Minor Upgrades
Minor upgrades, such as replacing light fixtures and water faucets, can go a long way in making an impact on buyers. New decor handles can update the look of cabinets, and a new bedspread can change the look of an entire bedroom. Accent your home’s best features and use eye-catching upgrades to modernize those less-appealing areas that could use a boost!
8. “Dedicate” Each Room
Ensure each room’s purpose is clear and functional. Don’t create a bedroom where the dining room should be, or vice versa. Combined spaces are confusing for buyers. Follow the mantra: One room, one function.
Floors need special attention. If they cannot be scrubbed or shampooed into looking clean and sparkling, then you may want to consider replacements. New flooring can definitely change the feel of any room. With such a wide variety of products and prices available, there are several options for any budget.
10. “Live” Accessories
Fresh flowers work well to inject color and life into the atmosphere of a home. Nearly all home staging books exhibit photos of rooms with fresh flowers. Unscented or soft-scented candles, and even some soft music can really get buyers in the mood… All of these items create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
You may think that these home staging ideas are a lot of work.. And you’re right! But the improvements suggested will pay off in the final sale price you receive. If you find any staging project too daunting to pull off on your own, there are countless professionals out there, who are available to assist you at reasonable rates. Hiring a home stager in the beginning may prove cheaper than a reduction in selling price, due to poor staging.
Whether you decide to do-it-yourself or hire a professional, consider home staging an important part of your journey to successfully sell your home For Sale by Owner [FSBO].