Staging to Sell: How The Little Things Can Make a Big Impact

If you’re like most people, then the thought of inviting strangers to scrutinize your home in hopes that they’ll make an offer probably makes your stomach churn. You might have many concerns: “But what if they hate my decor? What if I don’t have time to clean? Am I going to have to spend a ton of money to make my house look nice enough?”…you might be thinking these things. But fear not! Staging to sell can be an enjoyable experience if you can shift your perspective a bit. Right now, your mind is stuck on, “I have to get this thing sold!” Try this instead: Remember when you were a home buyer (or maybe you are one right now), and think about what it feels like when you find that house that stands out because you can really sense its potential for you and your family. From the moment you pull up to this sort of house, you’re excited to see everything the house has to offer. And where did that feeling come from? It’s possible the owners simply had a clean-looking lawn and a welcoming front entrance. Regardless of exactly what it is about the house, you feel excited about it. And you can set up potential buyers to feel this way about your home. Here are a few pointers to help guide your efforts:

  • Keep a clean lawn/entryway. Basic mark of a proud homeowner: Keep your lawn neat and trimmed. Note: This doesn’t call for perfection. There are some who dedicate themselves to having the greenest turf, the shapeliest hedges, the perkiest flowers…these things aren’t necessary, so keep it simple: Mow the grass once a week (or, depending on your climate, once every other week). Try to have fairly even mowing lines for aesthetic appeal. Also, if you don’t have any flowers out front, consider picking out a color or two that complements your exterior paint and other surrounding plants and plant a few either in the ground or in pots along the walk to your front door. This will make your yard pop and add some extra curb appeal. In addition, make an inviting front entryway by putting down a neutral-toned doormat and hanging a seasonal wreath on the door (think evergreen/holly for winter, flowers for spring/summer, and broom-brush wicker or red leaves for fall).
  • Bake something sweet in the oven. Nothing says “Welcome Home!” like the smell of freshly baked cookies or brownies. It sets people at ease and, for many, trigger nostalgic feelings of family and good times. This is a favored alternative to just spraying air freshener all over the house because while this may be necessary for some bathrooms, it can create the impression that you may be trying to cover something up. Remember, people are shopping for a home. Make that work to your advantage!
  • Let the buyers see themselves living there. Again, you’re probably worried about the cleanliness of your house, and the reality is, you have to have it clean for home buyers. Dirty carpet, last night’s dishes in the sink, and kids’ toys thrown all over the floor can damage a home buyer’s impression of the house because they’re distracted from the home’s potential by the nastiness of the mess. It’s a great idea to have the carpet steam-cleaned if you haven’t in a while, and it couldn’t hurt to wipe the windows down inside and outside, dust, vacuum, polish wood floors…the works. However, don’t be too unrealistic: You live here, after all, and others need to be able to see themselves living there too. Instead of thinking every inch of the house has to be sterile and spotless, picture how you idealize your home. Kids’ toys may be orderly picked up, but they’re not out-of-sight. Leftovers aren’t left out on the counter, but a basket full of your favorite fruits and a cookie jar wouldn’t be hidden away in the cabinets. And how often do you completely shut-up your entertainment center so nobody can see the TV? People need to see that your home is lived in so that they can picture themselves living there. Let them see it!

Here’s the bottom line: Home buyers need to see the potential of your house so that they can envision it as a home. They don’t have to have the same taste in decor or color-scheme in order for that to happen (those are things they can easily change). Cater to the potential you already know is there, and don’t distract from it. Now roll up your sleeves, have a little fun, and sell that house!

Written by Ben Mix

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