Staging Is A Must

By Anica Wong

April 17, 2013 4 min read

Selling your house can be hard. Should you use a real estate agent or go at it on your own? What listing price is reasonable for your area? How long should you expect your house to be on the market?

While a lot of the selling process will be out of your control, there are some things that you can do to make your home more appealing to buyers, which will potentially put money in your pocket more quickly.

"Two things sell a house -- one is price and the other is staging. I think staging is the most important," says Barb Schwarz, the creator of home staging and StagedHomes.com. Staging a house makes the space more inviting, comfortable and cozy, causing potential buyers to say, "I can see myself living here." When most people think of staging, they imagine a real estate agent popping a tray of cookies into the oven to give the house a home-baked smell. While this isn't a bad tactic, there are several other things that you can do on your own to make your house more buyer-friendly.

1) Clean everything. Clean the carpets, get deep into the corners and give the exterior a good washing. A clean house is always more appealing.

2) Declutter. We all have clutter whether we think we do or not. Because we live in it, we don't often notice the pile of newspapers or the flip-flops littering the doorway. Getting rid of clutter is one of the most important aspects of staging your home, according to HGTV's website. Too much clutter makes a space smaller, and you want to show people that you house has big rooms that will accommodate their lifestyle. Schwarz suggests taking pictures of each room from the doorway, printing out the photos and seeing what items can be removed from the room to give it a more open feeling. The same goes for the outside of the house -- get rid of extra sand toys or chairs that haven't been used in ages.

3) Check your colors. While your 15-year-old might have wanted her room bright purple, your potential buyers probably won't. "Paint is one of the cheapest investments you can make," says Schwarz, suggesting that neutral white or beige walls be throughout the whole house. If you want to add pops of color, add in artwork, area rugs, towels or pillows. These are items Schwarz likes to call "moveable color" because they can be removed when you move out and a buyer moves in.

4) Be creative. Don't be afraid to move items around in your house to give the rooms a more balanced look. While you might not think of your dresser as a buffet, moving it to the dining room and hanging a big mirror over it will add a little something extra to that space. And if you want to use accessories from around your house, HGTV suggests grouping them in odd numbers, especially threes. Put the accessories in a triangle shape to maximize their effectiveness.

5) Learn to compromise. It'd be great if you could redo your whole house to get a better selling price. Since most people can't afford that, turn your sights on the things that need the most attention. Fix the damaged (and potentially harmful) kitchen floor before replacing the pink tiles in the bathroom. You can add decorative items to the bathroom to soften the look.

6) Communication is key. Look at the message that each room is communicating to your potential buyer. Is it inviting? Does it give them a glimpse into what its purpose could be if they lived in the house? Make sure your space as a whole is communicating the right things.

7) Be committed. Whether you're living with a spouse, a sibling, a parent or a friend, selling a house can be a big deal. Make sure that all parties living there are committed to staging the house to the best of their ability to get the maximum potential. "The investment of staging your home is far less than a price reduction on your home (price)," says Schwarz.

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