Canada's Condominium Magazine
In today’s real estate market, home staging of some kind is a given. Industry people say that staged homes generate more interest and bring in the best prices. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you can do it yourself. Just remember that staging is not decorating. In fact, it’s almost the opposite: undecorating. The basic principle of staging might be summed up in two words: minimize and neutralize.
It goes without saying that you want your home to look its best at all times, but especially when you have people over. What do you do to prepare for having friends over? You clean and tidy the place up. And this is for people who know you.
All the more important to clean and tidy up when the people coming over are strangers who will be sizing up the place with the possibility of buying it from you.
So get rid of anything that might be an obstacle to that. Remove anything overtly religious or political, or that might give offence in some way. This could include guns that you hang over the fireplace or animal trophies in the den. It could also include magazines and books, artworks, photographs, furnishings and souvenir knick-knacks. You really can’t be too careful when it comes to giving offence. To be safe, get rid of it all.
The idea here is that people will be more comfortable entering your home if it looks like nobody currently lives there. That way, they can imagine that they live there. But you don’t want the home to be empty: it’s well known that empty homes don’t show well. So the more pleasant, clean, calm and comfortable the home appears, in a neutral, unobtrusive way, the more appealing it will be to buyers.
Making the home appealing includes taking care of odours. Don’t cook fish and cabbage the night before your first showing. Never leave over-ripe kitty litter or anything smelling of animals in your home when you are showing it. You don’t want people saying, “Oh yes, that was the place that stank of wet dog and cat poop, wasn’t it?” Put out cut flowers, both to add a trace of pleasant scent and to add to the freshness of the ambiance. Don’t use commercial air fresheners that have a pronounced scent and draw attention to themselves. (What are they trying to hide with that hideous lilac air freshener?)
Real estate professionals say that if buyers see something in a home that looks shabby or needs repair, they begin to disengage. They see these things as problems that they will have to deal with and spend money on, and this is a big turnoff.
To avoid this, paint the walls if they need it, in neutral colours of course. Remove any highly idiosyncratic or outdated wallpapers and paint instead. Clean the carpets, and if your broadloom is worn or stained, replace it. Replacing it will cost less than the reduction in price you may have to accept because of it. Clean the windows and remove any strange or quirky curtains or window coverings. You should consider replacing light fixtures and faucets as well, if they are outdated and or not functioning properly.
Make sure the light in your home is pleasant and unobtrusive. Take advantage of natural light where possible, but the home should look warm and cozy at night, with well-placed lamps that are neither too bright nor too dim. Track lighting and other special fixtures should be working properly.
Kitchens and bathrooms must be spotless, squeaky clean and odour free.
The more move-in ready your home looks, the faster it will sell—assuming buyers who intend to move in, not tear it down or renovate it from top to bottom.
An added benefit to you, the seller, is that in getting rid of all the clutter in your home, you’ll have an easier time packing when it’s time to move.