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Monday, March 14, 2016
The Ultimate Checklist for Staging Your House (So It Sells in Record Time)
Removing personal items should be a top priority when staging your home. You want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in the space. Image: Charrissa Vitas, staging | Randy Robinson, photo
Just take this real world tale of two condo listings from Terrylynn Fisher, a REALTOR® with Dudum Real Estate Group in Walnut Creek, Calif., who also stages:
Both units were in the same complex. One hadn’t been staged or updated since it was built; the other was staged and had been slightly refreshed (a little paint here and there and one redone bath). Otherwise, both units were the same size and layout. The staged condo sold for about $30,000 more than the unstaged unit, she says. “People couldn’t believe it was the same model.”
Before your eyes turn into dollar signs, keep in mind staging isn’t guaranteed to get you more money. But it’s an important marketing tool to help you compete at the right price, which means you can sell faster. (A study from the Real Estate Staging Association bears this out.)
Helping buyers fall in love with your property takes more than running the vacuum and fluffing the pillows: It’s all about decluttering, repairing, updating, and depersonalizing, say real estate agents and stagers.
With help from Fisher and other sources, we’ve compiled the ultimate home staging checklist.
Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.
Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum.
Freshen up and modernize those cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware.
Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Give it the old college try or consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly recommends stainless steel.
Tip: You can get the look of stainless for the cost of a cheap dinner with stainless films.
Remove those fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning.
Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.
Declutter! Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them (neatly!) in the garage or — better yet — a rented storage unit.
Don’t forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork should all go.
Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
Transform underused areas of the house — the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway — into functional spots. Add a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook.
Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs.
Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty — or dingy — hardware.
Damaged or aging hardwood floors? Replace damaged boards with new wood, sand down the entire floor, and re-stain.
Do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom — including carpets — before viewings.
Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so long as it complements the trim and doesn’t blend, says The Real Estate Staging Association. Steer clear of unconventional colors like purple.
Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers.
Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch until everything sparkles.
Make sure the locks and doorbell function.
Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one.
Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds.
Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door.
Whip that yard into shape with fresh sod or new seed.
Store yard equipment and children’s toys out of sight.
Repair shaky banisters.
Get a hammock (or bocce ball game or raised fire pit) to show off how fun your yard can be.
Dress up any imperfect planting area with mulch.
Make sure entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects.
Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses.
Don’t forget your outdoor living space. Stage your patio like a second living room, with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor.
is a freelance writer, editor and author whose work appears in such publications as Forbes BrandVoice, The Content Strategist and Business Insider. She’s constantly DIYing something in her Ann Arbor Cape Cod where she lives with a big human, a little human, and a silly, silly dog.