Romancing the buyer – Staging a home for sale

Think of this as romancing the buyer – you want your home to look good, smell good, be attractive, welcoming and comfortable. You want the buyers to fall in love with your home. This is more about aesthetics: design, organization and appearance.

The goal is to prepare the home to appeal to the most potential buyers, sell the home more quickly and for the highest selling price.

You’ve done all the functional and mechanical repairs needed in the home. Now it is time to stage your home, to think about what would be attractive to a buyer. Here are some general guidelines.

Curb Appeal.

Like a blind date, first impressions are important and that means staging your exterior for maximum curb appeal. This may include a fresh coat of paint on the body and the trim, a neatly mowed and edged lawn (sod and repair as necessary), fresh mulch in flower/plant beds (remove weeds), trim bushes or trees (especially around windows and doors), and clean windows (screens and frames, too). A new front door or fresh paint on the door is worth the money and effort.

Power-washing cement entryways, patios, and driveways can also be a plus.

The entryway should be welcoming, free of clutter and well-lit. Use a high-quality welcome mat. Place fresh, bright flowers and plants near the entry.

Attract the Buyer In.

Bright lighting, fresh smells (vs smoke, pets, last night’s dinner, etc.), clean flooring, fresh flowers and an open spacious entry create a welcoming entrance that makes the buyer want to see the rest of the house.

Reduce Clutter.

Strive for a simple clean look to maximize the space throughout the house. Reducing the items on shelves, in closets, hallways and cabinets will also give you a head start on packing for moving. Removing personal photos and items will help buyers picture their own items – and themselves — in the house.

Use Groupings in Common Living Areas.

Buyers envision using living rooms and family rooms for family activities and entertaining. Make the space user-friendly and look larger. Position sofas and chairs into conversational groups; be sure that the placement makes the traffic flow obvious. Floating furniture away from walls into these cozy groupings can add to the feeling of spaciousness. Minimize family portraits; remove knick-knacks.

Clean and Brighten Kitchen.

This is a key area. De-clutter and maximize usable counter space, but don’t make it spartan. Clean all appliances and counter surfaces so they shine. Turn on lights; open curtains. If upgrades are needed, think counters, cabinets, and under-cabinet lighting. Staining, painting or changing knobs and handles are low-cost improvements. Updating kitchen faucets and lighting can also add appeal.

Clean and Update Bathrooms.

These areas need to be sparkling clean and look and smell like a model home. Update fixtures and hang plush towels that color-coordinate the space. Fresh flowers add to the appearance and also smell fresh.

Make Bedrooms Look Comfortable.

Buyers want to see a neutral, spacious and comfortable space to relax in. Remove excess furniture and personal photos. Use luxurious bedding – comforter, accent pillows. Reduce clothing, shoes, etc in closets to make them appear more spacious.

Transform Spaces.

Repurpose unused spaces into reading spots, study/work areas with a small desk and table lamps; drapes, mirrors, carpet remnants and pillows can create meditation and exercise spaces; a bookcase can make a nook into a small library or display area.

Home Lighting.

Most homes are improperly lit. Increase the wattage of bulbs and use all three types of lighting – ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting is the main lighting source, generally overhead, windows and skylights. Task lighting can be pendants over dining areas, under-cabinet for counters, and reading lamps. Accent lighting comes from table lamps and wall sconces. Great lighting makes the home look warm and inviting.

Make Spaces Look Bigger.

Using the same color paint can help make adjacent rooms, like kitchen and dining rooms, appear seamless and larger. Matching drapery color and wall color can also give the illusion of space; the differing tones in the same color can also create a sophisticated look.

Use Neutral Colors in Large Spaces.

Large walls in bold colors will only appeal to a small subset of buyers. Use warm beiges and tans as well as soft blues and greens to cover large off-white spaces.

Deep dark tones can be used on single-plane accent walls to create a more intimate or dramatic space. Contrasting built-ins, niches or wainscoting will also add interest to a room.

Hang Art to Create Interest.

Hang art creatively by varying the patterning, height, and grouping. Try to tie in colors from furniture, upholstery, walls and flooring. Use artwork to create or accentuate the mood desired in the specific room.

Accessorize in Odd Numbers.

It is not just about de-cluttering, but tastefully accessorizing to create an ambience. The right accessories displayed attractively make a difference. Three is a favorite number of interior designers. Find a unifying element and group the items by scale, color, shape, texture with the largest item at the back and the smallest at the front (from the initial entry point to the room). Placing items in a triangular shape also creates balance.

You can do much of this yourself; however, many real estate agents work with interior designers or professional stagers to accomplish this efficiently and effectively. Using professionals to help set the stage to romance the buyer is often worth the expense, especially when it results in shorter selling times and higher selling prices.

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