We help our clients understand that placing their home on the market is all about changing perspective. Your house morphs from a place of comfort with your family’s touches to a more neutral space that will present your home as a place someone else can decorate and call home. Check out our top five staging considerations to get your home ready to show and learn why minor repairs are a must. For steps to take to prepare for your home's photo shoot, see our article on Preparing Your Home for Photos.
Stage it Right
When you are ready to sell, think of your home the way a new home builder thinks of a home - it's a product. That's why model homes are so much fun to tour - you can totally see yourself living in one! We've worked with hundreds of buyers and see first hand what impacts their purchase decisions. Based on our experience, here are the top five Austin home staging to-do's:
1. Scale Back the Personal Touches
When it comes to getting the best price for your home, put your emotional attachments to each space aside. Although it’s not easy to flip the switch on a place where you’ve built many memories, your home is now a product. This also translates to the personal touches that dot the home. Store all family photos, heirlooms and other personal items out of sight. Prospective buyers want to picture their own lives decorating the space. Note: This doesn’t mean start stuffing closets. Some sellers opt to rent storage space during this process. See "No Clutter" below.
2. Make it Sparkle
Before you consider the first showing, give your house a scrub that rivals spring cleaning. Nothing turns a buyer off more than grime, strange odors and dirty carpet throughout the space. Remember to:
- Make windows in key areas sparkle, such as your living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. Clean windows go a long way to help brighten up a room.
- Dust, sweep and vacuum each room. Don’t forget fan blades, baseboards and light fixtures that normally go unnoticed.
- Make the bathrooms and kitchen shine! Bleach grout, polish fixtures and sinks, scrub toilets and tubs.
- Air out any musty-smelling spaces. Sometimes, Febreeze and candles won’t cut it. You may need to replace worn rugs or cut out old carpet (minor expenses can be worth it).
- Professionally clean the carpets and your upholstery if necessary.
- Change burnt out light bulbs - a bright space is an inviting place!
- Change the filter for your air conditioner to help freshen your home. Don't forget to clear unsightly dust from the vent.
3. Reduce the Clutter
Clutter heaps can distract and actually prevent many prospects from envisioning the home at its greatest potential. If prospects inspect your closets, will the family Christmas tree and Halloween costumes tumble out to greet them? This is the perfect time to reorganize and simplify your own life before the move. Clean up the clutter throughout your home and don't forget to inspect your home’s storage spaces including:
- Coat, bathroom and bedroom closets.
- Kitchen cabinets.
- Garage and attic: Although a mess in the garage and attic are usually acceptable and one of the last places potential buyers look, try to organize them as much as you can.
4. Keep it Neutral
We all get it at some point: the desire to express ourselves on the living room or kitchen wall. Maybe you chose mint green or a cobalt blue as the accent color. Whatever the deviation, prospects can’t seem to take their eyes off of bold accent walls, but unusual colors can cause potential buyers to strike your home off their list. If you are in doubt, keep your wall colors neutral - consider painting before you list your home.
5. Greet them at the Curb
Nothing resonates with buyers more than your home’s first impression. The second a prospect parks curb side, they survey the exterior, yard and even the front door to gauge if this is a place they feel they can proudly call home. To deliver this impression, it takes a bit of effort:
- Pressure wash the home’s exterior, roof, driveway, porches and walkways leading to the entrance if necessary.
- If pressure washing didn’t do the trick, consider a fresh coat of neutral paint (if it’s possible in the budget).
- Paint the front door. Even the color of a front door can characterize a home. Although you want to use discretion, a pop of color can make a house look unique from the street.
- Change the doorknob and even the lock if needed. A flimsy, loose knob or a rusted lock can send negative signals to a buyer. When they open the front door you want them to think "secure" and "new".
- Finally, don’t forget the usual yard maintenance. Mow, trim, rake and plant flowers to present a manicured look and add charm.
Minor Repairs Make a Difference
When sellers are focused on closing the deal on their home and moving out, they don't always consider investing in minor repairs. However, these small improvements can help foster a quicker close as well as secure a higher selling price. If your home is on the market, here are repairs to consider:
- Patch up and paint over any holes in the walls.
- Change out dark, drab features such as curtains, bedspreads, towels and rugs for light, airy adornments.
- Fix leaky kitchen, bathroom and outside faucets.
- Re-caulk sinks, tubs and showers. Also remove rust or other stains while you’re at it.
- Fix anything that's broken - e.g. a sagging fence or screen, chipped tile, etc.
Although preparing your home might take some upfront time, depending on its condition, it’s a process that has proven to decrease the time to sell your home. Such minor repairs and improvements will help attract a buyer and make the home inspection go smoother - thereby keeping your buyer confident.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Although you’ve done your best to fix up your home, some potential problems may be revealed during the home inspection. If you’re worried about costly repairs on major items like air conditioners and other large appliances, consider purchasing a home warranty. Some companies offer home warranties for sellers that help cover the costs of expensive repairs while their home is on the market. If you’re interested in purchasing a home warranty during the sale of your home, talk to your Realtor to decide which one is right for you.