Taking the Mystery Out of Home Staging

By: Kim Hunter

Home staging. Everyone's talking about it, but to many homeowners wanting to sell it can seem overwhelming. Where do I start? How do I know what to do? Is my money and time going to be wasted? These are questions sellers are asking when they hear about home staging.

For starters, it doesn't have to be as complicated as it may seem. It can be as simple as eliminating the clutter in your home and then giving it a thorough cleaning, something you would probably be doing anyway. And as for the cost involved, it doesn't have to be huge. It could be merely buying some hinge lubricant for those squeaky cupboard doors and a couple of gallons of paint to make the walls shine. The budget you put into home staging is entirely up to you, but evidence shows that what a homeowner gets back by way of a great sale price may be directly related to the effort they put into preparing their home.

Let's say your budget is only a few hundred dollars and no more than a week of work. A lot can still be done. In fact, one of your best investments may be to rent storage space and start packing. Unless your home is naturally spartan, packing up most of your decorations and even some of your furniture, off-season clothes, little-used appliances and such similar items can make a dramatic difference in your home. It creates space that both makes cleaning easier and allows buyers to truly see the home.

I mentioned squeaky hinges. Remember that first impressions are of huge importance. Be sure the front door opens smoothly. Many buyers will open closet and cupboard doors, so make sure those are in good working order, and not jam-packed with all your junk - hence the storage rental advice. Oiling your hinges or making minor repairs to doors only costs a few dollars and takes mere minutes, yet it can be the difference between a buyer thinking "oh, this home needs work" to them not noticing a problem at all.

I mentioned cleaning and paint. Selling is the time to give your home a much deeper clean than you might normally do on a weekly or even monthly basis. Pay special attention to bathrooms and kitchens, ensuring the porcelain and stainless sparkle. Remove any and all mold or mildew. If necessary, replace your shower curtain with a brand-new one, and during showing, hang out your best towels.

Wash your walls and even ceilings, if you can. If you have kids or pets, or have smoked in the house, it might be better to re-paint, at least in some rooms. Your goal will be to make the house shine. Choose bright and neutral colors, white and off-white are always safe choices. A new owner can easily paint over these with their own color choices - far easier than they could if you went with that trendy brick red for the walls. If you have moldings, try an off-white and white combination. Don't let your off-white get any darker than a light taupe.

Once the walls are clean and/or painted, remember to turn the lights on, and leave the curtains open. You want the house looking bright. Wash the windows inside and out to be sure they look great and let in the maximum amount of light. Freshly cleaned drapes or blinds will increase this affect.

Remember that the outside of your home is the first thing a buyer will see. If the exterior is worn-looking, consider if it needs re-painting. This might be the biggest expense, but it will also have the biggest pay-off by making your home look great right from the first view. Give the yard some extra attention to make sure your landscaping is in good shape, too.

So you see, staging your home doesn't have to be the big production some can make it into. It is something that can be done to suit any budget, and involves things you would probably be doing anyway. In this buyers market, it makes sense to give your home that boost that will make it stand out among all the others.

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