Staging that is well done is definitely an asset. Over 95% of people start their buying process by looking online - your pictures need to stand out among all the other properties that potential buyers are looking at!
In addition to working with hundreds of buyers in my time as a realtor and knowing what they notice when walking through properties, I also have 2 home staging accreditations (one from the US and one from Canada), have worked with interiors for nearly two decades and have background education in marketing and psychology. The tips I provide below are honed from years of experience and given to you with the best intentions for you and your sale!
Tip #1: CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
As soon as you make the decision to sell your house it is no longer your home. It is simply an asset that you want to get the most money out of for the investment in your new home. Any necessary changes to your interior in order to best market your house to potential buyers are much easier to make without the tough emotions associated when you still think of it as your home.
Tip #2: CURB APPEAL
Once a potential buyer decides your house makes the list of ones that interest them, they will do a drive by. Stand back and assess your exterior. Make sure everything is clean, clear of clutter or debris and “season appropriate”. For example, winter holiday decorations in April and dead summer plants in October are not appealing.
Tip #3: REPAIR & DECLUTTER
Walk through your house and make a list of all items that need to be repaired, such as dings, settling cracks, or holes in walls; baseboards that are damaged; drawers that stick, etc. Do these repairs! Then start pre-packing your belongings. Many people rent storage units/pods in order to remove extra pieces of furniture, extra packed boxes, valuable pieces of art and decor, etc. so that the house looks more spacious. I also suggest to pack up your “off season” wardrobe - rule of thumb is for closets to be only 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Tip #4: DEPERSONALIZE
Pack up and remove all family photos, treasured personal items and any extensive collections you may have (some people collect frog or owl paraphernalia, for example). Buyers need to be able to imagine their own belongings in the house, just as you will when looking for your new home.
Tip #5: ASSESS ROOM FUNCTION
Many people change the original function of a room in their house to better suit how they live. For example, I have walked through many homes where people have changed their dining room or a bedroom into an office or a home gym. You cannot assume that every potential buyer will want to use your house in the same way. Buyers usually see many homes during the buying process. Trying to keep each straight is confusing enough, let alone remembering that some rooms can be changed to what they may need. For example, a family needing 3 bedrooms may remember your house as only a 2 bedroom if one of the other bedrooms is set up for a different function. Changing rooms back to their original function may benefit you.
Tip #6: ASSESS YOUR DECOR
You will hear “neutralize” a lot when it comes to staging a house. This does NOT mean you need to paint everything beige, grey or white. The look of the home needs to flow, though. Many people like to have different themes for different rooms in their house. When selling, this can be a detriment. In order to create an attractive flow throughout the house, choose one look. My advice is to make sure it is light and bright, and is on point with any general trend in interior decorating at the time you are selling.
Tip #7: LIGHTING
Having nice lighting fixtures is good, however the main point is to have a well lit house. Poorly lit spaces are less attractive to most people. There should be 2-3 different types of lighting in each space – the main three are natural, overhead and task. Remove any bright fluorescent lighting – it can remind people of institutions, rather than the comfort and warmth of home. Also, make sure any light bulbs turn on immediately – some bulbs need to “warm up” before they get to their full brightness. Buyers will not wait, or even know to wait, for that to occur – they will just assume it is dim.
Tip #8: ASSESS SCENT
This can be difficult for many home owners because we get used to our house! To start though, you need to address any offensive scents that may be in the house, such as cigarette smoke, animal smells, cooking smells (fish or fired items, for example) and musty smells. This is where we NEUTRALIZE. A “no scent” home is ideal. Strong cleaning product smells and air fresheners can be just as bad. Buyer may think that there is something being covered up.
Tip #9: “SPRING” CLEAN
Dusting, washing floors, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen is all a must, but sellers also need to “display” their house. Just as people do not like to shop in a dirty store, eat in a dirty restaurant, or buy a dirty car, they will not want to buy a dirty house. Wash windows, wipe down baseboards and trim, clean ovens/fridges/freezers/microwaves, clean grout lines and caulking, wipe top of cabinets - everything needs to sparkle and shine! My advice: hire a reputable cleaning company that provides “move in/move out” cleaning services. It is definitely worth it, if you can swing it.
Tip #10: HIRE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THESE THINGS
When you are selling a house you are competing with others. Any realtor worth your time will talk to you about putting your “best foot forward”. Some houses need very little done to make them market ready (cleaning and space planning IS considered a type of staging), others require more effort. You need to have your house marketed in a way that attracts as many people in your target market as possible. People that say that staging is not worth the time or investment and is not necessary, is not looking out for your best interests. Buyers will spend more on a house when it is “move-in ready”. Make it easy on the buyers and you will be ahead of your competition!