How To Stage A House For Sale

Many homeowners feel qualified to prepare their home for sale. They like to decorate, they feel they have a good eye for design, and have watched thousands of episodes of "Designed to Sell" on HGTV. Unfortunately, their best decorating intentions may have actually decreased the marketability of their house. After sitting on the market for months without any offers, many of these do-it-yourself home stagers will turn to a professional for help. Here are a few tips the professional home stager is likely to tell them.

Remember that decorating a home and staging a home are two entirely different concepts. A well decorated home reflects the owners' personal tastes and interests. It may feature very taste-specific design, such as floral patterned drapes for the woman who loves her rose gardens, or a hunting-motif den for the duck hunter in the family.

But when a property is being offered for sale, it needs to appeal to the widest possible range of potential buyers. For this reason, a properly staged home will not show the slightest hint of the current owners' interests and predilections. All collections, family photos, and cherished bric-a-brac must be removed and carefully packed away to travel to the owners' new home.

A well-staged home follows the rule of "less is more". Just one or two pieces of furniture in each room will help the new buyers recognize the use of the room, but will still allow them the space to picture their own furnishings. Closets and storage areas should be pared down until they are less than half full. The same goes for the garage, where too many stored items will leave the buyers wondering whether or not they can fit their vehicle in the space. Above all, the buyers are paying for square footage, so do not cover up valuable square footage with stored junk.

Make sure to feature the special attributes of the home. Grab your digital camera, then stand in the doorway of each room and view it through your camera. Whatever you see is what the buyer will see. Is your beautiful fireplace blocked by a large sofa? Does your dining room look like a sea of chair backs, hiding the picture window that overlooks the lake? Chances are, your view of the family room is completely dominated by a large-screen television, or entertainment center. By removing large furniture items that dominate a room, you will help your buyer remember your house, instead of your stuff. And remember, it is the house you are trying to sell, not your furniture!

Make sure you pass the smell test. When living in a house, we become used to its natural odors, which may include offensive pet odor or even unpleasant laundry odors. Ask a trusted neighbor or family room to walk into your house and give you an honest opinion of its odor. Keep in mind that "if it smells, it cannot sell". No amount of decorating can cover up litter box odors, so do yourself a favor and eliminate smelly problems before your buyer points them out.

Pay special attention to the front door. Stand on your porch and look around. This is what your buyer will do while the real estate agent is trying to unlock the front door. If you see rusty porch lights, faded house numbers, cracked cement, or cobwebs under the eaves, take care of these issues before your show the house.

By taking time to properly clean and stage your home, your buyer can truly appreciate the square footage and amenities that your house has to offer. And with any luck, you'll be reviewing multiple offers in no time!

The author is a twenty-year veteran of the real estate industry and taken home staging courses. She uses well-chosen kitchen canister sets and bathroom accessories to prepare a home for sale.

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Jeremy E Moore

Century 21 United Realty

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Jeremy Moore

Jeremy Moore

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 United Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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