Although most real estate professionals would agree that home staging can provide an excellent return on your investment, hiring experts to do this may not be the most practical way to go depending on your situation. Not everyone is prepared to pay several thousands of dollars in upfront costs to showcase their home, and many sellers are understandably concerned that hiring a traditional home staging process could be disruptive to their lives. On the other hand, it’s undeniable that buyers are motivated by positive emotions associated with a home, and favorable first impressions are critical as a majority of buyers are finding their homes online. Given the advantages of home staging, it pays off to ask your real estate agent for advice, and ensure that you take the following basic steps to make your home more attractive to prospective buyers:
Trust your agent when they say to clear out clutter, and de-personalize your home: As anyone who has ever sold a home may tell you, your real estate agent and you may have vastly different ideas of what is considered to be a de-cluttered home for the purpose of showing it to prospective buyers. If you’re understandably reluctant to remove objects such as photos, mementos and other personal possessions from sight, keep in mind that your objective is to make it a easy possible for the buyer to imagine what each room would be like if he or she were to live there. To do this, it’s critical to remove the obvious evidence that you are living there, while still maintaining the character of the space.
Put personal items in drawers, decorative boxes, or better yet, use the opportunity to try the 4-container method, a strategy professional organizers use to help people streamline their homes. You’ll not only make your home more appealing and spacious, but you’ll also reduce the amount of packing and moving you’ll eventually have to do.
Consider alternative storage solutions: It may seem like a great idea to rent a storage unit for all of those excess items you plan to keep, but according to realtor.com, this is another unnecessary expense, as is the truck you will probably have to rent to move it all. The solution is a service such as Clutter, which offers reasonable rates and will make the storage process much easier. Full-service storage providers such as these will come to your home to collect unneeded items, and do all of the packing, lifting and driving for you. They’ll also provide secure storage and will carefully inventory your items so you can easily keep tabs on your belongings. When you want your stored items back, you simply log onto your account and schedule a delivery.
Refresh your bathrooms and kitchen: Making small improvements in these areas of your home can carry maximum impact for minimal effort and financial outlay. Painting cabinets, applying a peel-and-stick backsplash in keeping with the home’s style, and replacing light fixtures and cabinet hardware are all good ways to update these spaces without overspending. As the Washington Post points out, you can create a homey, inviting feel in your kitchen with decorative elements such as such as a big wooden cutting board and/or knife block, an attractive paper towel rack and wooden bowls filled with fresh fruit or polished rocks. In bathrooms, you can’t go wrong by purchasing new towel sets and shower curtains that complement your current paint and tile and can be taken to your new home.
Paint, but stick to neutral colors in most areas: This is also the time to make any of those annoying little repairs needing fixing, like broken molding, stained walls or chipped paint. And as you likely already know, one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the look of your home is to give it a fresh coat of paint in the areas that need it (if not your entire home). New paint will remove important effects of everyday wear that tend to make your home seem old and worn, and it’s especially key for those who have homes with unconventional colors that may not appeal to everyone.
In general, your best bet is to choose neutral, contemporary colors that complement your home. The exception would be for an accent wall or for highlighting focal points of your home such as a fireplace or bay window. For more ideas on how to add the right amount of color to make your home showcase ready, check out “The Third Rule of Home Staging: Add a Splash of Color.”
Work with the furniture you own, and acquire finishing touches on the cheap: Rather than shelling out for new furniture that you’ll have to move once you’ve sold your home, think in terms of repositioning what you already own for enhanced flow and balance, updating the furnishings you already own and adding accent pieces that complement your existing furnishings. For instance, coordinating ready-made slipcovers for couches and chairs in contemporary colors can solve the issue of those pieces that look worse for the wear. Without overextending your budget, you can also find accent pieces like artwork, mirrors, lamps, area rugs and colorful throw pillows at places such home improvement stores or yard sales. Also consider your lighting, and make sure you’re using good quality light bulbs with warm hues that are more universally flattering.
Get the curb appeal factor going: The best way to get those serious buyers into your home to appreciate your careful staging efforts is to just as carefully spruce up the outside. Add a new doormat, new house numbers and maybe a new mailbox. Paint the front door, wash siding and touch up exterior paint that may weathered. If you have any landscaping, make sure it is cleaned up and tidy. The potential of a functioning garden can be enticing to prospective buyers, so plant some full grown, healthy flowers and add new mulch. Ambient outdoor lighting is another beautiful and relatively inexpensive home upgrade that will make a significant difference.
Looking for some visual guidelines to assist you in the do-it-yourself home staging process? If you haven’t checked out the Houzz app yet, now is an opportune time to give it a try. The largest database of home design ideas on the internet, this free tool enables you to redecorate or remodel your home virtually. It’s a great way to find inspiration for home staging, and can give you the confidence in knowing that your money and effort will be put to good use.