The top 7 things sellers forget to do when staging their home

Staging is all the rage in selling houses, residences sell quickly when every space look its very best.  But it’s about a lot more than just re-arranging your living room furniture.   As we go through our lives, things we see everyday start to fade to the background, and soon we don’t notice that pile of broken garden tools has been sitting in the back yard for 2 years or that the kid’s bedroom is covered in posters and trinkets.

Even the most beautiful architecture in a desirable location will have less value if the house is not immaculate.  From a prospective buyers opinion, if the current homeowners aren’t taking care of the little things in the house, have they been neglecting the big things like foundation or plumbing problems?

To start, you need a fresh set of eyes and a brutally honest friend. Invite your friend and your Realtor to walk through your home give a 100% honest critique. Does my house have a funky smell, are there piles of dust bunnies floating in every corner, which closets are so messy they are shameful?

So as you prepare to stage your home and put it on the market, here are the top 7 critical elements you can’t overlook:

1. Pre-pack

No, your house hasn’t sold yet, but you can get a jump start on the impending move and make your house more sellable by gathering some boxes and pre-packing key items. The goal is to remove your personal style and preferences so any buyer can imagine their own life in the house.

  • Box and store at least 50% of the decorative items in your house, and remove all dusty silk plants or flowers.
  • Reduce or eliminate photos of family and friends, and religious items.
  • If you have kids, and especially teenagers, take down every poster, picture, and drawing off their walls, clear all trinkets, makeup and general ‘stuff’ off the dressers and bathroom countertops.

2. Cupboards count

If it is attached to your house, potential buyers can and will look!  In kitchens and bathrooms, or any space with built in storage, open every cabinet and drawer (yes, really, every single cabinet) and take a look.  Throw out the outdated or nearly empty containers then organize every can, bottle and box, neatly fold every towel.  And if there is something embarrassing you don’t want a stranger to see, toss it in your pre-pack box! Finally, wipe out any crumbs, dust or debris to leave a clean surface.

3. Closets come clean

home staging

Organize every closet in your house: bedroom, hallway, linen and storage. If it has a door, organize it!  If the closet is overflowing, grab your pre-pack box and store all the items you will not need for the next month or two.  A neat and organized closest looks twice as big as a stuffed full closet, and every buyer values closet space!

4. Ugh, the yard

Most people remember to spruce up the front yard with fresh flowers and trimmed bushes, but what about the backyard?  If you see any of the following in your yard get rid of it or put it in the pre-pack box;

  • pots with dead plants
  • broken toys piled high
  • broken tools left to rust
  • piles of debris
  • stacks of wood (that you really do intend to use one day)
  • a half collapsed playhouse your child has not used since 2010
  • If you have a shed will be sold with the house, the time has come to clear out the junk and get it cleaned up.

5. Look upward

Look at your light fixtures, ceiling fans and the corners of your ceilings.  Do you see an inch thick layer of dust or spider webs?  What about the baseboards, corners and crevices in doorways?  Pull out the vacuum and suck up all the offending dust bunnies and dirt.

6. Sniff it Good

The brutally honest friend and Realtor mentioned earlier?  This is where they are most important; a true friend will tell you if your house just doesn’t smell right.  A thorough cleaning might fix it, moving a litter box to a new location might help, tossing old doormats or having your carpets and hard floors steam cleaned might be the solution.  Go through the house room by room to determine where the smells are coming from and take all means necessary to eliminate the odor.  The most beautiful and amazing home is just not going to sell if it smells like a high school gym locker!

7. Lock up your stuff

Sadly, there is a chance that a less than honorable person might come through your home during an open house or viewing.  So to protect your valuables, remove or lock up any of the following;

  • Prescription medicine
  • small electronics such as tablets and phones
  • jewelry
  • paperwork with personal or financial information (checkbook, passport, bank statements)
  • pocket size valuables or heirlooms.

If you have kids, put away their small toys.  While little kids viewing your house with their parents are unlikely to intentionally steal a toy, if they are bored (and let’s face it, a kid on a home tour will be bored) they may pick up your child’s beloved Star Wars figure and then forget to put it back!

That’s it, you are ready to stage the furniture, put out a platter of home-baked cookies, and get ready for the offers to come!