You've decided to put your house on the market and you're planning to do so in a month or two. Now you must decide how to prepare your home for sale. To make that task easier, here are six ways to begin the home staging process now.
1. Decide what needs to go
- Check each room and remove furniture and accessories that are not necessary, are visually distracting or block the views of architectural details. This includes family photos, collectibles, accent furniture or maybe even large pieces such as a buffet or TV.
- Look for too much pattern in a space. When your home photos get posted online, pattern can be very distracting. You can slipcover upholstered furniture, remove a busy area rug or remove pillows or other accessories that add too much visual noise.
- How to decide? Rooms should appear as large as possible and traffic pathways should be free and clear. Take a photo if you're not sure and compare it to houses currently on the market that look appealing to you.
- Also remove anything that has a limited personal appeal such as dated window treatments, wallpaper, decade-specific colors like mauve or teal, your collections or very taste-specific styles.
- When in doubt, take it out! Less is more here.
2. Decide where it will go
- Once you have identified the things you want to remove, figure out where they will go. An end table may get moved from the family room to the living room to flesh out a sparse space.
- If you have storage space in the basement, excess items can go there if neatly stacked, preferably in a closet or along a wall.
- What if you don't have any storage space available in your house? Consider asking a family member or friend if you can store items at their home. Rent a storage space or pod. But make the phone calls now and sort this out so your home is ready to show on listing day.
3. Cull excess items from closets and storage areas
- If you can reduce what's in your closet by one-fifth to one-third, it will make the space look larger and indicate to buyers that there is plenty of storage space. Donate apparel you haven't worn in the last year or the kids have outgrown. You'll have less to pack and unpack for the move. Box up out of season clothing that you won't need for a while.
- This strategy applies to gadgets and dishes in the kitchen and items in other areas of the house, too. Is there something you aren't using? Pack it up or take it to a thrift shop.
- Do you have a graveyard of miscellaneous items you don't know what to do with? Things like electronics can be donated if working, or recycled at electronic recycling depots if not. In St. Louis, check http://www.ecyclestlouis.org/. You'll find locations where you can take electronics to be recycled and you'll help the environment.
4. Repair deferred maintenance
- Always repair those obvious things that really need fixing. Even addressing simple issues like jiggly doorknobs makes a house feel well-maintained.
- When walls or trim are dirty, marked or can't be cleaned, it's time to paint.
- Personal color choices with limited appeal will need attention. This can mean dated hues, like mauve and teal, or colors that may not appeal to the masses, like purple or neon green.
- Dark colors can be difficult to paint over and may make a room feel smaller. Along the same vein, dark paneling may make a room feel cave-like and dated. Consider painting these spaces in a light, neutral color that will feel brighter and larger.
- Choosing neutral colors like light beige or neutral green will make the house feel fresh and appeal to the widest number of buyers possible. This can offer a big impact for a small investment.
6. Make simple updates
- Switch out light fixtures, faucets and even bathroom hardware such as towel racks, for an updated feel with a minimal investment.
- Pay attention to metal finishes that are currently in style. In most cases this means anything but brass.
- Not handy? Call a handyman service. They are usually qualified for tasks such as replacing faucets and lighting and can be reasonably priced.
Make sure you apply these steps to the interior and the exterior of your house. Whatever you do to get your property ready for the market, give yourself plenty of time. This allows you to complete the tasks yourself or call in help if needed. Preparing your home for sale is like studying for a test or readying for a job interview--the investment of time now can really pay off in the future.
Cathy Brosius is the owner of Arranged Smartly, a home staging and organizing company. Cathy and her team are working smartly for homeowners and real estate agents throughout the St. Louis region. She has also been interviewed on KMOV's Great Day St. Louis, providing tips on staging a home for sale.