Once your house is on the market it’s time to make it ready for potential buyers. Home staging has become an important part of selling property because it can increase the value of your home by up to 15%, and it gives buyers an opportunity to see how their life can fit into your home. Of course, you will need to scrub and vacuum every square inch of the house, but staging is more than just cleanliness. It’s about how the buyer experiences the house. If you have the spare cash, hiring professional stagers, known as Accredited Staging Professionals, is the easiest and fastest way to stage your home. But, if you are planning on doing it yourself, here is a 10 step list of musts.

1. Make a List and Check it More Than Twice

Walk through your house and make notes of every major and minor imperfection. Nothing is too small to note. A paint chip, a broken light switch, a hole in the wall? Everything makes it on the list. This step is the most important. It is your guide through the staging process. Organize your list and work through it one step at a time.

Our recommendation? Start with the big projects and move down the list to the smallest ones. If you are having trouble seeing what needs attention, ask your First Team real estate agent to help. Their fresh perspective will be closest to the buyer’s point of view. And it helps that they’ve been through home stagings before. 

2. De-Clutter (and Pack!)

De-cluttering can also be thought of as depersonalizing. When potential buyers walk through the house they are imagining their life in it: mentally adding furniture, photos, and rugs. They can’t do that if your life is in the way. Understandably, this is an emotional time for you. You’re saying goodbye to your home.

Now is a good time to start emotionally distancing yourself by thinking of it as property rather than home. This is also a great opportunity to start packing! Wall-to-wall visible floors are key to showing off how much space each room has. Extra furniture and piles anywhere in the house need to be taken care of–even behind closed doors. You never know where a buyer might peek.

3. Rearrange and Revamp

When you originally furnished and decorated it was to make the property your home. Now you need to rethink. Your main goal in each room’s organization is presentation and appearance. Think comfort and conversation for all common room furniture, cozy and intimate for bedrooms. If your furniture is loud and you can’t afford to buy neutral, consider neutral couch and chair covers. They are affordable and will do the trick.

If you’re unsure what you’re going for, a nice hotel is the the best reference. Look at pictures of suites online to get arrangement ideas. Hotels are also a good reference for decorating. Your decorations should accent the overall feel of each room rather than establish it. Make sure all the decorations in each room are creatively arranged and show variety of pieces and location. 

4. Neutral Colors and Bright Lighting

Bold colored walls and dim lighting might be the most relaxing and lovely environment for you but makes your property look uninviting. Repaint the walls to neutral colors and replace dim bulbs. Luckily, we live in an era where neutral has broadened its definition. You no longer have to stick to tans and whites. Now neutral also encompasses soft and light blues, greens, and yellows.

Anything that is white should be given a fresh coat. It may not look dingy or dull to you but white has a way of aging. As for lighting, a good lighting rule is 100 watts for every 50 square feet. Try to spread the light out a bit. It will give the rooms a nice ambiance. You can find inexpensive, attractive lamps at places like Ikea or Target, or if you’re patient, garage sales and thrift stores. 

5. Show Off Storage Space

Everyone has stuff. Potential buyers are looking at your house and assessing it by a number of qualities but nothing can damage your sale faster than making it seem like your property has no storage space. Contents of cabinets, closets, and drawers all must be minimized. Potential buyers are going to look in all of these places with or without permission so be prepared.

Don’t empty completely, just make sure these spaces are not brimming full or disorganized. Think of it as giving the potential buyers a suggestion on how to arrange their items. As we mentioned earlier, this is a great time to start packing for your anticipated move.

6. Perfect Bathroom and Kitchen

When you walk into a hotel room it smells nice, it looks nice, and all you want to do is kick off your shoes and relax. That is exactly what you want potential buyers to experience when they walk into your house. Remove every mark of cooking and eating from the kitchen, rid the bathroom of any stains on the walls, doors, curtain, mirror and toilet, and don’t forget to sweep and mop the floors!

Bathrooms and kitchens can get dirty quickly and the gross factor is very high. This is what your potential buyers are going to notice. Signs of neglect in the bathroom and kitchen will give the buyers the impression of overall neglect

7. Modernize

Outdated looking appliances can significantly reduce the value of your house. Investing in a new stove, microwave, and dishwasher will pay off in the value added to the house. If buying new appliances is not within your means, give everything as modern a feel as possible. Refinishing or painting cabinets and drawers can immediately give your property a fresh face. For older dishwashers, you can buy stainless steel laminate for a minimal cost to give your kitchen a quick facelift. 

8. In the Details

Now that your furniture is rearranged and your walls repainted, it’s time to look at the details.You never know where a potential buyer may look so it’s crucial you are prepared.

  • Rearranging furniture often leaves dents in your carpet that can persist for days or even weeks. If you need them out sooner than that, leave an ice cube in each divot. It will melt into the carpet and once it dries, the carpet fibers will be revamped!
  • Check all the nooks and crannies in your house. Clear away dust and debris from ceiling fans, countertops, decorations, under the stove and anywhere else it might be hiding.
  • Is the grout between your tiles clean? If not, borrow or buy a steamer to get rid of unsightly stains.
  • Fix any leaky faucets or loose door knobs. You don’t want the house to feel like it’s old or falling apart.
  • Don’t leave up old blinds and curtains. Make sure they accent the room. Make them yourself by buying fabric and doing a little stitching or buy ready made curtains. You’ll be happy you did!

9. Curb Appeal

Regardless of if potential buyers come into the house or just drive by, the outside view of your house is the extremely important first impression. If they are just looking at it from the outside, it’s the only impression. Make sure your lawn is mowed, flowers and hedges trimmed, and driveway and walkways are free of dirt and litter. If you haven’t painted your house recently, give it a fresh coat, especially the front and garage door.

Your house might not sell if it looks old and weathered and it likely won’t earn your asking price. Make sure you give the same treatment to the backyard. Although no one will see it driving by, once inside, the potential buyers will want to know where they’ll be able to relax in the sun. Make it to look inviting.

10. Sprucing

Everything looks done, inside and out but something is missing. Go room by room and think of how to add a little life. Maybe a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, some fancy soap and potpourri in the bathroom, fresh flowers in the living room. Do you have a porch? Arrange some chairs, tables, and plants on it. This is a good time to add color into the house. Neutrals are for permanent or large fixtures but people respond to color. Decorate bedrooms with small stacks of books on night stands and a couple candles. It’s up to you but remember to continuously view your house from a stranger’s eyes. 

Once you’re done, walk through and around your property. Ask yourself, will the buyers want to live here? Ask your First Team agent, neighbors, friends, family members, and passing strangers for their opinion. It’s perfect? Perfect! Now, just maintain the cleanliness and enjoy living in a model house until it’s sold very soon.