Many say it is just putting lipstick on a pig; however, I have actually put lipstick on a pig and it most certainly does make a difference. Not only does it get a giggle out of all involved but the pig stands out from the crowd and as my grandma always says, a little color never killed anyone. For the record, it didn't kill my pet pig either.
Not everyone can afford a professional stager. Staging is crucial and makes such a tremendous difference in selling a home. When possible, hire a professional. When pennies are being pinched, rely on the experience of an experienced Realtor if for no other reason than an experienced Realtor DOES know tips and tricks that will make your home shine.
I am NOT a professional stager; however, I have spent countless hours, days, months and years going in and out of homes. I know what makes a difference in the eyes of a buyer and what sends them straight for another front door! As most Realtors, I may not be a professional designer, but I am a pro at stretching a dime!
The below tips are from years of taking what we have and making it work! Again, if you can afford a professional stager, DO IT. If not, ask your Realtor how they can help you with the following shades of color!
1. Mr. or Mrs. Seller, meet Mr. Clean! – It doesn’t take a professional to clean a house and clean it well. It takes good music, determination and a little hard work. I really like using Mr. Clean white pads for baseboards! But avoid walls, as this can remove paint in some situations!!
2. Walk through each room and imagine yourself as a Bed & Breakfast owner- If you have children, you may already feel like a B&B owner, but this is different. From floor to ceiling you want each room to offer comfort, peace and space for guests. If you think your home already looks fabulous, call your best friend, she will be honest, then call me.
Kitchen- clean the countertops, free them of anything not used daily. Remove kitchen wash rags (never show your home with kitchen rags hanging from oven, fridge, faucet, etc... Please). Each morning wipe down all countertops, fridge, range and microwave, use handi wipes or a spritzer of apple cider vinegar and water. Trust me, it works and takes much less time than the panic of realizing you have a showing and you kitchen is not prepared.
Entryway- This matters, and it may just matter most! Free the entryway from clutter, sneakers, and dogs (friendly or not). If you have a table or stand, remove clutter and leave fresh flowers or a nice floral (think small NOT oak tree) arrangement. If you have a giant chalkboard that expresses your disappointment in your husbands failure to run his errands, maybe write, Welcome to My Home instead.
Family Room- Think sitting area, also think about vacuuming all the cookie crumbs, pizza crust and Fido’sfur OFF of all furniture at least weekly during the marketing term. If you have 4000 pillows, remove 3992 of them. Think clean, smooth lines. If the pillows are dingy, either clean the covers or go to Bed Bath and Beyond and pay $9.99 for new covers. Pillows are an easy way to make the color palette throughout a home flow. Choose one color that will appear in everyroom, it adds to the flow and gives consistency. The coffee table should be clean, clear of anything other than a tasteful (ask your mom, if you aren’t sure!!!) book and 1-2 remotes. That is IT. If you have 4000 cords from various electronic time wasters, remove or hide 3999 of them. There are easy ways to bundle them in an organized manner (Bed Bath and Beyond and most any store have small devices for this priced below $5). Make sure it is well lit during showings, not candle séance lit, but lamp/light fixture! Resist the urge to Fabreeze yourself into frenzy, if your home is clean. Fake flower aroma is unnecessary.
Dining Room/Eating Area- It has been my experience that a full table setting (12 plates, forks, glasses that you never let anyone use) is unnecessary. Instead an appropriate (call me) centerpiece and a clean surface is all that is needed. This depends on the room. It if is Formal Dining room, then setting placemats, napkins and a pop of color (again call me) is preferred. If it is an eat in kitchen, a clean surface and nice centerpiece will do the job!
Master Bedrooms- Think of every nice hotel you have ever visited (if Motel 6 comes to mind, call me). Clean crisp lines with fresh linens. Corner to Corner make sure anything that is NOT used daily is put away or packed in storage. It is necessary, no matter how painful. It is necessary. The baseboards should shine throughout the entire home, but especially bedrooms/baths. Nightstands should be clear with the exception of a lamp, 1-2 tasteful (call your mom) books/magazines, clock or small flower arrangement. You want the room to feel inviting to everyone, not just women and not just men. The bed is very important. Linens MUST match and pillow cases must be crisp and clean. Pillows and pillow cases don’t cost much, but dingy or stained linens will cost you a sale! If you don’t have time to make your bed each day, you don’t have time to sell your home. Hate me or not, it is true. Leave your bedroom as if your mother in law is coming to stay! Dressers and other bedroom furniture should be clean and completely free of clutter. If you have 4000 framed photos, remove 4000 of them. Sorry.
Guest Bedrooms- More of the same bedroom advice, crisp linens, matching linens, warm inviting and very CLEAN. This can be fun, prepare each bedroom for guests (that you really like) thinking of every possible comfort. Remove anything doesn’t make sense! If you have a treadmill in your guest room, STORE it. If you have your bike in your guestroom, find another place for it. If you have any strange appliance, structure, or cage (yes I said cage) remove it.
Bathrooms- White is your friend. White towels, white throw rugs, white shower curtain. Of course there are exceptions, if your bathroom is painted a stark color; a tan or gray may be preferred. Baseboards must shine, floors must be clean cabinets must be wiped down and cleared out!!! Yes, people open cabinets. Clean, clean, clean, if you don’t know how, don’t call your mother, she failed you, call me. Counter tops should be free of ALL personal items. Do NOT show your home with deodorant, toothpaste, hair cream and or other odd manicuring products strewn about. Do not do it. And please, always close the toilet seat. I know you live there, but it should look as though you don’t.
3. Closets, patios, screen porches and other additional spaces- Clean is King. It is worth the cost of a storage unit. I know that is a pain, I have done it myself and yes it is a pain. It is also the difference in selling your home or crying in your grits. Any outdoor living space should allow for actual living. Screen porches should be inviting, offer a sitting area, and have a plant or two, LIVE plants. Closets must be organized, crazy-obsessive-person organized, not the door is closed I don’t care organized. I have a long list of tips on how to do that (just please don’t look in my closet).
These basic principles also work for second homes, vacation homes, even rentals. There is no excuse NOT to have your property prepared for the scrutiny of buyers. Your property will continue to be overlooked as long as it isn’t looking its best!
If you need new bedding, buy it. If you need new drapes, buy them. I can assure you, an investment of $1000 will gain a return of being able to move forward and sell your property at a higher rate than if you simply place a sign and a prayer.
As I said, I am not a professional stager. I am a top selling Realtor and I have been for quite some time. I know what it takes to sell a home. I know what it takes to prepare a home for one of the most challenging markets in history. If you can’t afford a professional stager, make sure your Realtor knows the basics!