You’ve done everything you can to get your property ready for sale or rental. You’ve renovated, rehabbed, upgraded and created what you think is the perfect home for prospective buyers or renters.
But before you call me to come and stick that “open house” sign on the front lawn, there’s one final thing you need to do to make sure all your hard work pays off: staging.
Staging is the art of presenting your property in the most attractive and positive light possible. Done right, staging turns a property into a home and allows people to envision themselves living there.
While factors like location and number of bedrooms can get people in the door, it’s the way that the property captures their imagination that will ultimately influence whether or not they decide to sign on the dotted line.
Here are 10 simple but powerful steps to stage your home successfully.
Keep it Simple
To appeal to the largest number of people possible, keep the decor understated and neutral. Cream-colored or beige furniture, linens, curtains and bedspreads are always a safe bet, although you can also evoke a mood by using certain colors in certain rooms. Bathrooms, for example, show nicely with spa-like colors like soft blues, greens and lavenders. (Imagine soft blue towels, neatly folded and stacked, next to a matching blue soap bottle and a matching toothbrush holder.)
Keep it Bright
Well-lit rooms look bigger, newer and more inviting, so let there be light whenever possible. Open up curtains and blinds to show off how much natural light each room gets, and use lamps to brighten up any dim corners.
Keep it Comfortable
Be mindful of potential buyers’ and renters’ physical comfort as they tour your property. If it’s summertime, make sure your rooms are cool. If it’s winter, keep the furnace high enough to keep out the chill and take advantage of the opportunity to show off fireplaces with a cozy fire. The more physically comfortable people are, the more likely they are to linger and take in all the great features your property has to offer.
Make it Look “Lived In”
Empty rooms don’t look more spacious; they actually look smaller because buyers have a hard time telling at a glance how much furniture the space can accommodate. They also come across as stark and uninviting. Adding a few key pieces of furniture and accessories can help people feel at home and allow them to really picture themselves living in each room.
You don’t need to fill up each room completely, just enough to create a welcoming scene. In the living room, add a couch, coffee table and some side chairs, along with accessories like an area rug (if you have hardwood floors) and complimentary curtains. In the bedroom, a bed, nightstand and dresser will do the trick. (Pro tip: Stack two mattresses on top of each other and neatly make the bed in order to avoid the hassle of moving an actual box spring into the space.)
Additional touches like fresh fruit in the kitchen and scented candles in the bathroom can up the “homey” factor. Just stay away from cheesy props like fake food and artificial flowers; people can spot them a mile away.
Highlight Each Room’s Purpose
A wasted, “catch-all” space impresses no one. If a room doesn’t have a clearly defined purpose, define one yourself based on what your target market is looking for. That spare room could become an office, extra bedroom, craft room or playroom, depending on how you stage it. Don’t force people to brainstorm ways they could use an extra space; help paint a picture for them.
If you have any odd corners or “dead spaces” in your property, you can also stage these to make them look like positive features. A random nook in the hallway could be turned into a reading area with a comfy armchair and an open book, for instance.
Know Your Market
Think about your buyers’ (specific) needs.
If you’re flipping a home in a mid-range suburb where buyers are largely families, turning that tiny spare room into a kid’s bedroom may net you great positive feedback.
If you’re renting a Class A home or luxury condo in a high-end neighborhood, turning that tiny extra bedroom into a home office or a walk-in closet complete with shelves, mirrors and a plush seating area might get you more “wow” factor than staging it as a cramped, small bedroom.
Accent Selling Points
Draw people’s eyes to the best features in your property. Painting an accent wall, placing a large plant or arranging accessories in groups of threes are all easy ways you can highlight features like fireplaces, window seats and built-in shelving.
Make Sure it “Flows”
Walk through your property as though you were touring it yourself to see if any objects interrupt the natural flow of traffic from one room to another. You may need to rearrange a piece of furniture here or there. Poor flow distracts people from your property’s great features and can also make rooms feel smaller than they really are.
And above all, make sure it is clean!!!