Spring and early summer is a popular time to sell homes. While so much goes into planning your next location, selling your current home usually comes first. We've sold a few homes with our large family and I have 3 steps on how to stage your home for sale.
Clutter, Clean, Color/Decor
We'll focus on clutter, cleaning and color/decor. I don't spend a lot of money following these steps for staging and I'm not trying to make a model home as it's not realistic. When I follow these steps, I feel fairly confident I've staged my home for sale to the best of my ability to make a buyer feel comfortable.
3 Steps on How to Stage Your Home For Sale
Plain and simply, remove the clutter in your home. If you must leave some things available, nicely box them where you can still get at it. If you have so much stuff that boxing creates a bigger mess - take things to a storage unit. I'll list by room what clutter really consists of. All else is because you live there, most reasonable people will understand that, so don't sweat. CLEANING COMES AFTER CLUTTER! I'll get to that, brace yourself.
- Kitchen - Move or box most items on the counter you can live without while the home is for sale. Dehydrators, knick-knacks, extra canisters, blenders etc. Search the cabinets and pantry - you mean people look in there? YES! I would, if I was interested in space. Neaten up and leave them tidy. Old 1/2 bags of anything removed. Put food in nice plastic containers and use chalk board labels. Glasses and dishes neat, no broken stuff kept. Take out old plastic containers and leave just a few useable ones. Organize and dump clutter in the refrigerator. Buy containers made for the refrigerator to organize. I've seen ones for eggs, meat, bottles and more. Take out everything from under the sink, keep one plastic tub with organized needs. You get the idea.
- Bedrooms/Closet - Box, and box more. Put the junk away or get rid of it! No books or other keepsakes need to be out. Keep only the clothes in season in the closet, including shoes. Make it open, but, you still live there, people know this.
Put soap in nice containers. Put up shelves if needed, show organization. Have nice baskets for dirty laundry. Consider finding new rags in the towel closet and don't overload it. Fold each towel neatly and each washcloth into a triangle. My brother laughed at me once for doing that.
Just pack up what you can do without for a while and replace your 'needs' with nice decor, like baskets or candles, or nothing. Clean off desks, clean out any storage cabinets or spaces. Bookshelves, make as neat as possible.
Clean up stains on the garage floor, arrange bikes and toys neatly, clean off the top of refrigerator if you have one. Put up shelves or get hooks to hang things if needed. Don't leave cars in the garage or driveway for showings, if possible.
Your goal is to make the yard clutter-free, useful and attractive. Too many yard ornaments are tacky. Make wood piles clean and neat. Gardening things cleaned up and nice. Throw stuff out or sell it.
Bulky Furniture Can Look Like Clutter - Not everyone can replace furniture because of budget, meet us. You can store it, but consider if you really need it. Storage units cost money, so replacing might make more sense. Big furniture is an eyesore, and sometimes plain ugly. We decided sell our bulkier furniture, replace what we could, and leave space open if we couldn't find something attractive. You don't want space so bare that someone wouldn't know what to do with it, and you also don't want it so filled the buyer can't envision something great. Furniture that is old and doesn't match anything needs to go, and good grief don't try to decorate ugly stuff.
2. CLean - before the sign goes up
Don't think someone won't turn and walk right out. Clean the house. Don't just surface clean. IMPORTANT: The steps to staging your home for sale do not include hiding cosmetic flaws such as spots on carpet, or a stain on the countertop. If you can't fix them, leave them open to see. If you try to hide them, they will wonder what else your hiding. Just do your best and be honest.
I had a lady pick up all my rugs in a home we had for sale once. I put them there for prettiness, she thought otherwise.
Here's a good start list for cleaning:
Clean the front door area. Clean the concrete to the walk-up. Paint your front door and trim. Add a wreath to the door. Add flower pots, even hooks to hang baskets of flowers if you haven't yet.
- Clean all floors and trim in the house. Polish hardwood, and shine up the floors. Give the children toothbrushes and have them go through every piece of trim and scrub it off. Paint trim if needed.
- Replace anything broken.
- Shine the faucets up in the sink and shower, no water stains.
- Clean out drains. Use a toothbrush to scrub the drain areas and around the shower doors. Clean the light fixtures over the sink.
- Scrub the toilets and replace the lids if they are cracked or stained. Caulk the toilets, tub, and sink area.
- Clean all cabinets and use wood polish to shine them up.
- Clean the light fixtures over the table or anywhere you have glass fixtures.
- Clean the stove-top using a ceramic cleaner, and a good oven cleaner for the oven.
- Shine the kitchen sink and drain with a bleach scrub, using a toothbrush around the drain and hard areas to clean. Run the disposal if you have one and put baking soda down the drain.
- Clean the refrigerator if it's staying.
- Clean the microwave, toaster, and pantry. All must all be sparkling with no crumbs anywhere.
- For showings, unplug the coffee pot and toaster, make sure they are sparkling.
- Furniture needs to be polished up, use a polish with lemon (hint). If your wood furniture has stains, this sounds abrasive but scrubbing bubbles cleaned off the little stains here and there. I then drenched it in wood polish cleaner and the furniture looks new.
- Windows all need to be see-through. Don't use vinegar to clean, it smells. In fact, this isn't the time to be organic. Just clean it and make it smell NICE. Consider pressure-washing your outside windows.
- Dust slats on wood blinds with a furniture cloth, window-sills, ceiling fans, and anywhere you think dust might be hiding.
The laundry room needs to smell good and be clean. Shine up everything you can. Pull out the washer and dryer and clean behind them. You'll find socks. You'll find dust. Consider leaving a box of dryer sheets open on a shelf. That smells nice.
No leaves or weeds in the yard or garden. Get the yard useful. Add fresh mulch or dirt to gardens. Clean off concrete porches and patios and driveways with a pressure washer, no oil stains, rust or dirt. Consider staining or painting decks. Clean cracks that have weeds in them. Get some Scott's Weed and Feed, get that grass green! No junkie bbq's, fire-pits, chairs, or tables etc. Clean out drains and gutters.
3. color and Decor
Sometimes it's very obvious how to coordinate colors. If you have a hard time matching colors, use a color tool like this one. Color on walls is rather important. Keep it neutral or paint it neutral. Some buyers will be thinking, "Do I want to do all this painting after shelling out the money for the house?" Depends on the house and how much is wild, and the buyer.
What I normally do is hold the tool up and fanned out to whatever I want to coordinate. I can quickly see colors that look nice. Easy! Colors that are best when staging your home for sale are neutral colors. I do love light gray and white trim rooms. Keep it low toned. If you have wild colors, consider repainting.
The only room in my house that is painted is my kitchen, as I wanted to separate it from our living area, which is sitting right next to it.
Decor helps a buyer feel comfortable. I wouldn't rate it as important as color because the color stays and your decor goes. Make your home appear cozy and pull a little color from each room around the house with your decor choices. A matching candle is nice, but what about a tray with various colored items on a table? Or a bowl filled with large colored potpourri? (Be careful with strong smells.) I have blues from my kitchen here, I have a yellow mini quilt in the stairwell, and most furniture is a barn wood type brown or gray.
Living areas should have nice pictures of your family on the walls, people like to see those real people who live there and it shows they care about their family. If you have shelves up stage the shelves to look nice and non cluttered. Floating shelves are wonderful.
Our real-estate agent loved this corner in our entry way, called the red hall. He said it was beautiful. That made me happy.
In the bathrooms, match up a few towels and items for a shelf. Use the color tool! I would keep bathrooms white or beige and use towels to make color stand out. (Tip: I take down show towels in the kid's baths, and keep them on a chair in my room. When showing time comes, all towels get passed out again.)
Green plants look nice and give life to dull areas! House plants are inexpensive and a super choice to fill an area that needs love but not clutter.
These are 3 steps on how to stage your home for sale are fairly long, but the 3 steps really help form a guideline. We always try to take care of our homes and make them cozy, and make the 10 children we've housed help take care of the space they've been blessed with.
In the end, a buyer will love or not. The steps to staging a home are personal and have personality! Never think you should do nothing to stage your home for sale, or have an "it is what it is" attitude about selling your home. If a buyer sees that you loved your home, it's easier for them to love it too.