Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Selling your home? 10 staging hints that will make it stand out

According to, there are more than 4.1 million homes for sale right now in the United States. Here are 10 ways you can make yours stand out in the crowd.

Go for neutral
Remove highly personal items like family photos and artwork your kids brought home from school, and consider painting any brightly colored walls a more neutral shade. Personality is important, but you want prospective buyers to be able to imagine themselves in the space without feeling like they’re invading yours.

Spruce things up
Shabby furniture should get a makeover. Sure Fit ( suggests covering up worn, outdated, or loud furniture with tailored or fitted slipcovers in a neutral shade. New area rugs (to cover worn or stained spots on the floor), throw pillows, and flower arrangements can make a space feel fresh without costing a fortune.

Declutter what you can
Yes, you can do without all of your knickknacks for a few weeks, or even for a few months. Remove everything but the essentials; it’ll make your house feel more spacious and make it more attractive to buyers. That goes for extra furniture in the bedrooms, countertop clutter in the kitchen, and piles of books and magazines in the living room, too. Bonus: Once your home sells, you may find that you didn’t need all of those things after all.

Clean everything
Shampoo the rugs, polish the hardwood, dust the bookshelves, make the beds, do the dishes. Instead of perfumed air fresheners that cover up or contribute to odors (and can trigger allergies), place vases with freshly cut flowers throughout your house, and be sure to open the windows if the weather is nice. Avoid shoving everything into a closet -- prospective buyers and real estate agents want to see how much storage space you have, and a closet that’s crammed full of stuff makes it look like your home doesn’t have enough space.

Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms
Scrub every surface, clean out your appliances and cabinets, and clear the counters of everything but the essentials in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Wipe down windows and mirrors, and hide your personal items, if possible. Replace broken or mismatched hardware, and consider resurfacing the cabinets if they’re especially outdated or shabby. Turn on the lights, set the table simply, and have a pot of water with a few cloves and cinnamon sticks ready to simmer on the stove at a moment’s notice -- the spicy scent makes a house smell more like home.

Pretend your patio is on the inside
Treat your deck, porch, or patio like it’s part of your house, and be sure to scrub, declutter, and stage those areas as well. Add potted plants, touch up the banisters and railings, and be sure to update the tablecloth and cushions for your outdoor furniture.

Take a look from the curb
A prospective buyer may never set foot in your home if he or she doesn’t like how it looks from the street. A fresh coat of paint on the door, trim, and shutters, some potted plants, and a new mailbox can go a long way toward updating the appearance, but cleanliness is even more important. Pull weeds and repair cracks to the driveway and sidewalk. If the house’s numbers are hard to see, update or repaint them.

Pay attention to the roof
HGTV’s suggests checking your roof and gutters while you’re taking care of the outside of your home. Repair missing or broken shingles, clean leaves and debris out of the gutters, and pay attention to signs of water damage, which can seriously affect a sale.

Light it up
Decorative lighting is inexpensive and can enhance your home’s curb appeal while also making it safer. Look for pre-packaged kits with battery or solar-power for easy installation; they come in a variety of styles.

Don’t forget the yard
You should make sure your house’s exterior is as well-staged as the rooms inside. Keep the lawn mowed and free of kid-related clutter, lawn tools, pet leavings, and excessive decoration. Weed and mulch the garden or flower beds, and be sure to rake the leaves and keep the pathways clear. If you stash your lawnmower and other maintenance tools under your deck, consider adding inexpensive lattice to hide them. Clean the windows, and pressure wash the siding if it’s especially dingy or moldy.

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