Home staging basics

Home staging basics

A buyer’s first impression of a property can make or break the deal, no matter what else it has going for it. That’s why staging a home is so important, especially if you want to get the best price and a quick sale. Staging allows buyers to see the home’s potential, and to picture themselves living there.

But wait, do you really need to put all your stuff in storage, redecorate, rent designer furniture, and basically live somewhere else for the duration? That depends on your property, the market in your area, and the tolerance level you have for showings. But if you aren’t using a professional stager, there are plenty of ways to make your space appealing:

  1. Declutter, declutter, declutter.

    Clutter makes spaces feel smaller. A closet that isn’t crammed with clothes will look more spacious, and a kitchen with empty countertops will feel bigger and more appealing. Pack up anything you don’t need, paying special attention to closets, countertops and storage areas: you can rent a storage unit and stow the extra items there. By containing the clutter, you’ll open up your home visually and make it look larger and more inviting.

  2. Organize.

    Messy never makes a good first impression (even if it’s an “organized mess”). Pantries, closets and any other catch-all spaces need to look roomy and functional. Once you’ve decluttered, make the time to make what’s left feel organized: shoes in neat rows by the front door, office bookshelves attractively arranged, dishes neatly stacked in kitchen cabinets. And don’t discount buyers who look in the fridge (they totally do), so make sure the shelves are wiped and the food inside looks tidy.

  3. Do a deep cleaning.

    You want your home to be sparkling clean from top to bottom, beyond what you do for your usual cleaning routine. Do it yourself or hire a pro, but put in some extra elbow grease by cleaning walls, steam-cleaning carpets, tackling bathrooms (recaulk if there’s mold and get rid of hard water stains), wiping down baseboards, washing curtains, wiping ceiling fans and cleaning anything else you can think of. It gives buyers the impression that you take care of the property, which boosts confidence.

  4. Make smart updates.

    While that cute mural in your child’s room may be charming to you, buyers will only see more work ahead. And that bold accent wall may be a bit too much of a personal taste. A coat of paint is an easy way to refresh a space, but stick with neutrals. Other affordable facelifts: updating dated cabinet knobs/drawer pulls, replacing stained carpets, and repairing damaged walls or doors. Small changes can make a big difference.

  5. Depersonalize.

    You want buyers to envision themselves in their future home, not yours. Put away family photos, kids artwork and other personal décor to create a neutral environment that has broader appeal.

  6. Set the stage.

    Think about the impression you want people to have of each room. Buyers should be able to envision cooking their favourite meals in the kitchen, working from home in an office space, relaxing in a tranquil bedroom, and entertaining on the balcony or terrace.

  7. Don’t forget the home office!

    Even if you don’t work from home (or you prefer to take your calls from the living room sofa), these days many buyers are looking for a home that has a great office space. The most recent staging trend, especially in condos, is to set up the second bedroom not as a guest room, but as an inviting office. Make it look as spacious and organized as you can. And even if you don’t have a dedicated room, you can still set up an appealing workspace elsewhere so buyers can picture themselves comfortably working from home.

    staged home office with minimal furniture and lots of plants
  8. Give it a sniff check.

    You’re probably “nose-blind” to how your home smells, but strangers won’t be, guaranteed. Cigarette smoke, pet odours and musty scents can be deal-breakers. Open up the windows, make sure your deep cleaning addresses odours, and ensure everything smells fresh and inviting. But don’t go overboard with fragrances: subtle air fresheners are great, but for people with sensitivities, strong scents can be a turn-off.

Talk to the pros.

These staging strategies are a good start, but your agent will know what will appeal most to the buyers in your area and price point, and they will help you determine if investing in professional staging makes sense. And remember, if they tell you your giraffe collection needs to go or that you need to repaint that bright pink bedroom you love, don’t take it personally. They aren’t making comments on your taste, just trying to make your space appealing to the greatest number of people so they can get you the best deal possible.

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