Selling your home these days takes more than just finding an agent and listing it. You’ve got to really sell it. That means impressing buyers the second they walk in the door.
One of the best ways to do this? Home staging, where your home’s decor undergoes a makeover in order to entice home buyers to swoon and make an offer.
“The statistics don’t lie,” says Samantha Rose Frith of Warburg Realty in New York City. “A well-staged house will sell more quickly and draw a higher sales price.”
But who has time for that? Hiring a pro is pricey (here’s more on how much home staging costs). Plus a pro can’t do all of the work; you’ll still need to do some sprucing up if you have an unexpected showing.
So if the clock is ticking, here are home staging tips and tricks that you can pull off fast, depending on how much time you have—from an hour to just 5 minutes.
Home staging in 5 minutes
- Put down the toilet seats: “Yes, that makes a difference,” says Jennifer Okhovat, a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Tracey Hampson, a real estate agent in Santa Clarita, CA, also recommends hiding the plunger and toilet brush, and any reading material you may have accumulated in your bathroom. “A bathroom is a bathroom, not a library,” says Hampson. Amen.
- Open the blinds: Let in as much natural light as possible—unless you have a spectacularly bad view, in which case, keep those blinds closed.
- Take out the trash and recycling: You may get that one potential buyer who will look everywhere.
Home staging in 15 minutes
- Clear your countertops: “The less clutter on countertops, the better,” says Okhovat. A nice bowl of fruit can spruce things up, but if you have several small appliances and all of your spices out, take a few minutes to stash them in your cupboards or a storage bin.
- Adjust the temperature: You don’t want buyers to rush through your house because it’s too hot or too cold. You also want to show that your heating and cooling are working. The ideal temperature depends on your home and the season, but keeping it at around 70 degrees should ensure everyone who sees your home is comfortable.
- Hide any piles of toys, clothes, and mail: “Remove the clothes from the stair steps, ensure the four piles of mail get reduced to one or tucked away entirely,” says Katie Coombs of Total Home Experience in Reno, NV. Janet Lorusso of JRL Interiors, in Boston, recommends keeping baskets handy in your living spaces for quick cleanup of toys and other clutter.
Home staging in 30 minutes
- Remove personal items: Buyers like to view each home as a blank canvas, and that’s hard to do with pictures of someone else’s family dominating the space. “Family and vacation pics are great, but maybe the Disneyland throw blanket and the hanging, glued-together puzzle could go in the closet for a bit,” says Coombs. Keep your privacy in mind as well as you clear items. You may want to stash items with your family member’s full names on display, for example.
- Clean, clean, clean: Vacuum, sweep, and mop as often as you can stand. “Check mirrors for spatters,” says Lorusso. Bonus: “The smell of cleaning products will make your house feel clean, even if it isn’t.”
- Add or adjust your lighting: “Use torch lamps if a room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, says Joel Moss of Warburg Realty in New York City. “We also find that replacing LED bulbs with bulbs that give it a warmer feel has a beneficial effect on buyer interest.”
- Hang a mirror: “Hang a wall mirror strategically to add visual interest and make the space look larger,” says Amber Harris of Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC, and interior decorator with At Home DC.
Home staging in an hour
- Rearrange the living room furniture: Instead of arranging your living room furniture based on the best view of the TV, “arrange furniture to face focal points in the room, like a large window with a view or a fireplace,” says Anne Clancy, a Re/Max real estate agent in Cottage Grove, MN.
- Make small repairs: “That leaky faucet or moldy caulk might not seem like a big deal if you lived there for the last 10 years, but they will almost always factor into a lower offer,” says Frith. If there’s a small project you’ve been putting off, like fixing a hinge on a cabinet door, now’s the time to take care of it.
- Spruce up walls, outdated countertops, dressers, and more with contact paper: “It’s not just for lining shelves anymore,” says Michael Nelson, chief operating officer of the Pyramid Project, a property management firm in Kissimmee, FL. “We’ve used it on everything from walls to countertops. It holds up well, looks great, and when you want a change, it removes with ease and no damage to the surface.”
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