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How to Stage Your Home So It Sells

There’s a lot of work involved in getting your home ready for sale. You may need to pump up your curb appeal by painting your front door a cheery color or planting masses of blooming flowers in the yard. You may also need to make some long-needed repairs, like changing out your water heater or fixing broken roof tiles or rain gutters. Even if you have a long to-do list with these kinds of tasks, you need to devote significant time and energy to staging your home.

Home staging focuses on aesthetics. It’s the process of pulling together a design scheme—everything from paint colors to furniture to the smallest decorative objects—that appeals to prospective buyers. If you doubt the value of staging your home, consider this: A 2020 survey from the Real Estate Staging Association found that 85% of staged homes sold for between 5% and 23% above the listing price, and they sold at a faster rate than non-staged homes, spending an average 23 days on the market. Here are some secrets on how to stage your home while you’re still living in it so you and potential buyers feel at home.

Before You Get Started

Before you start moving furniture around, some advance planning is involved. Staging your home will go more smoothly if you do some prep work:

  • Declutter. You’re probably going to do this anyway because you’re moving, but don’t wait until the “sold” sign goes up in front of your house. Go through your home and donate or get rid of the items you don’t need anymore. Once you pare down the extraneous clutter, it will be much easier to stage the rooms with what you have left. It will also help you see if there are any design holes you need to fill for staging.
  • Clean. A thorough, deep cleaning will set the stage for staging, giving you a clean canvas to work with. As you clean, make a note of any chips, breaks or other minor repairs you may need to make.
  • Think about storage options. Books, toys, workout equipment—there are things you can’t live without, but you don’t necessarily want them laying around to detract from your staging. You may want to invest in some nice closet storage boxes where you can dump items when buyers are scheduled to visit. That way your child can still play with their favorite toys, but they can easily be stashed away when needed.
  • Decide if you need professional help. Stagers can handle all the details for you if you’re overwhelmed with your move. But staging can be easier than you think. You can create attractive spaces with some simple strategies.

A Quick Note: Interior Design vs. Staging

You don’t need to be an experienced interior designer to stage your home. Even though both involve the look of your home, they have different goals. Interior design is meant to appeal personally to you and accommodate your family’s lifestyle. Staging, on the other hand, has to draw a broader audience—it’s more about the house, not the people living inside of it. In a way, staging your home isn’t personal; it’s business—you’re selling a product (your home) and you want to put it in the best possible light.

DIY Home Staging Tips

Tip 1: Keep it neutral. This isn’t a time for bold patterns and colors on your walls or furnishings. A neutral palette offers mass appeal and works well with any type of design style. If you find it hard to live without vivid color for even a little while, stick to select pops of color, such as a throw pillow, artwork or even a bowl of lemons against a neutral backdrop.

Tip 2: Create a cohesive look. Find motifs that you can carry throughout your rooms as a unifying design element. It could be a subtle pattern, a type of wood or a thematic feature. For instance, if your home has a coastal theme, you may choose to hang black-and-white photos of the ocean or put out a tasteful decorative bowl of white beach rocks on an end table.

Tip 3: Less is more. Coco Chanel used to say women should look in the mirror before leaving the house and take off one accessory for a chic and sophisticated look. The same could apply to home staging. Don’t fill every corner of a room with a piece of furniture, lamp or knickknack. This will make the space seem cluttered and too busy to be pleasing to the eye. Instead of piling a coffee table with books, trays, candles or other decorative objects, choose a statement-making vase with clean lines and fill it with fresh flowers. Another benefit of not over-staging and letting your rooms breathe—it creates a sense of airiness that makes a space appear larger.

Tip 4: Mix it up. You may adore a hard-edged industrialist interior design scheme, but it may not have the universal appeal you need to attract buyers. Blending design styles, instead of adhering to one niche theme, is a safer bet for attracting bids on your home. One of the easiest ways to do this is adopting a transitional design style. This is a blend of traditional and contemporary home design. They’re both popular. Many people will respond to them (and it will be easy to purchase any items you need for staging).

Staging your home can be simpler than you think. Try these techniques when you’re ready to sell your home—but be ready to pack up fast because the offers may start rolling in.

Alan Weiner, COO of Elegant Strand.

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Brian & Dan | Sereno Group

Brian & Dan | Sereno Group