After touring cluttered, messy, or dysfunctional homes, buyers find that much more appeal in the polished, staged home. Most real estate agents agree that staging a home is critical to selling it faster and for more money. Agents have seen the proof over and over again.

Within the first few seconds that potential buyers step into your home, they’re making judgements. Can they see themselves living there? That depends on what they see, or more bluntly, what you present to them. Preparing your home for market means emphasizing its best features and minimizing its worst. The longer buyers hang around, the more they will remember your home’s most positive features. If your home is cluttered, poorly lit, or full of too many personal items that speak to your lifestyle, then their judgement gets clouded by distractions.

Staging a home simply means that you are physically preparing it to give the best impression possible to potential buyers. Below are several essential things you should do to properly stage your home.

1. Declutter and depersonalize. Buyers expect to see clean rooms. If you have a lot of “junk” piled up in corners or stuffed into closets, remove it. You want to show off as much space as possible. Decluttering also applies to furniture. The less furniture or the smaller the furniture in the room, the more spacious your rooms will appear. Reposition furniture into conversational-like groupings away from the walls. This gives a warm appeal and also helps make rooms feel larger. Also, remove family photos from walls and table tops. Too much personalization distracts buyers from seeing their own family in the home. Box them up and replace with a minimal amount of artwork.

2. Define each room’s purpose. Buyers want every room to count, so give each room a purpose. For example, you may have a room that you’ve used as overflow for a miscellaneous desk, chairs, and boxed-up things you no longer use. Don’t let buyers write it off as a boring storage room when it could easily be transformed into a small study or reading room. Get rid of the boxed items, arrange the desk and chairs to work as a study, add some colorful pillows to the chairs, put down a small throw rug, and hang up a few pieces of art. Voila! You’ve successfully given the room purpose as well as buyer appeal.

3. Give your home great lighting. Many homes suffer from improper lighting that dampers the emotional effect of a room. You can remedy drably lit rooms by using the maximum allowable wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Or buy lamps that require higher wattages. Aim for a total of 100 watts (1,600 lumens) per 50 square feet. The best lighting includes three types per room: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet, or reading) and accent (table and wall).

4. Use the right props and accessories. After you’ve decluttered and strategically placed furniture, use props and accessories to create a serene and warm feeling to your home. This could be as simple as using an accent table in the bare foyer and adding colorful pillows to beds and sofas. Use neutral linens and bedspreads in the bedroom. Add a fine hotel/spa appeal to bathrooms with neatly arranged towels, candles, scented soaps, and decorative baskets for a polished look. Vary the height and symmetry of shelf and table accessories.

5. Paint larger areas a neutral color. Bold colors in bigger spaces of your home can turn off buyers, even though paint is one of the easiest and least costly things a buyer can change. Today’s neutral goes beyond beige. Soft gray against white trim, honey, deep tans, and light blue-greens are all neutral minus the boring. You can still use bolder colors in smaller rooms and for accent walls.

Professional staging companies usually start around $1,000-1,200 and can go as high as your budget allows. For vacant homes and homes without any wow factor, professionally staging will especially increase buyer appeal and price offers. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to stage a home and it’s certainly possible to do it on your own. A good real estate agent should provide helpful staging tips. After all, proper staging is a big part of marketing your home for sale. You can get creative with inexpensive new furniture pieces, artwork, and shelving and table accessories. You can even rent furniture on your own for areas that require the most help. Staging is about spending the right amount of effort and money exactly in the spots where it needs to go. Sometimes, staging only key rooms of the home, such as the main living space, kitchen, and bathrooms, is enough to improve your home’s appeal.

Platinum Service Realty