Tips for Staging Your Home

Get your home looking open-house ready!

Putting your home up for sale can be a daunting task. You’ll want to make sure that everything looks nice enough to attract potential buyers, and that includes keeping it clean, putting away overly personal clutter, and of course, staging your home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of staging and aren’t sure where to start, follow the tips below!

1. Depersonalize your home

When a prospective buyer takes a look at your space, whether it’s in person at an open house or through photos and videos, they’ll want to visualize themselves living there. You may have created a cozy space for your own family filled with trinkets and personal knickknacks, but an abundance of framed pictures depicting someone else’s relatives will make it hard for the buyer to imagine the home as their own. You don’t want them to think too much about who you are when it’s your home that really matters.
Take down those framed family photos, put away any memorabilia that verges into religious or political territory, and keep bathroom counters clean of any personal items like toothbrushes or makeup. A clean slate will really help the buyer to connect with the space.


2. Focus on specific rooms

While, of course, you want to get every room in your house looking its best, research by the National Association of Realtors has shown that potential buyers pay the most attention to the living room, the main bedroom suite, and kitchen. These are likely the rooms where they’ll be spending the most time — or where they’ll have the strongest preferences. Maybe they’re hoping for an up-to-date kitchen, a master bedroom with large windows, or a living room that has a fireplace. They may have more leniency when it comes to things like extra bedrooms and bathrooms.
So how should you stage these all-important rooms? Make sure everything is free of clutter — remove fliers and kids’ drawings from the fridge, keep living room bookshelves organized neatly and attractively, and pare down the number of personal belongings on your bedroom’s dresser. The floors should be vacuumed or cleaned, furniture should be organized in a logical way, and everything should be as neat as can be. Which leads to our next tip…

3. Clean, clean, clean!

It seems obvious, but no one wants to envision themselves in a dirty house! Take care to clean your home, and not just in the typical way — vacuuming, making the beds, putting away laundry. We’re talking about a serious, deep clean. Check the places that might not always catch your attention, like baseboards, window blinds, or ceiling corners. Make sure your windows look clean from the outside. Keep in mind that prospective buyers will often inspect the property pretty closely, whether they’re opening rarely-used closets or walking through the basement. A super-clean house sends the message that the property has been well taken care of.
If you’re worried about wrangling your home into a squeaky-clean state, consider hiring a cleaning service or housekeeper to help out. Steam-cleaning the carpets is a great idea too. There’s no shame in calling in some extra help — after all, it’s a serious task!

4. Prioritize neutral colors

This one goes along with depersonalizing the living space. While you might love colorful walls, furniture, or accessories, too many eye-popping details can detract from the home, making it difficult for potential homebuyers to find potential in the space. If you’ve painted the kids’ bedrooms in shades of bright pink or lime green, now is a good time to cover it up with gray, white, tan, or another neutral shade. Odds are the new residents will do this anyway, but it will help your home make a good impression at showings and open houses if it’s been toned down.
On a smaller scale, this applies to details like brightly patterned bedspreads or artwork on the walls. Something that’s too eye-catching might overwhelm someone who’s trying to get a feel for the space. Consider swapping these items out for something more neutral, at least for the time being, so the buyers won’t be distracted.


5. Set the scene

From the moment a potential buyer arrives on the property, you want them to feel both welcomed and intrigued. Mow the lawn, add a pleasant doormat, and spruce up any other landscaping details that visitors will notice. Power wash the sides of the house if it’s looking a little dirty, touch up the paint on your window shutters, or add some tasteful outdoor furniture to your patio or porch. If it’s the holiday season, consider toning down or removing any decorations; these can cause the property to look dated in photos. 
You’ll also want to consider the safety of anybody who might be coming to look at the house. While you won’t need to worry about winter weather in Los Gatos, remember that sometimes a potential buyer might come to look at the house later in the day. Keep walkways and driveways well-lit, both to keep your home approachable and to keep visitors from tripping in the dark.


6. Rearrange furniture

Many professional stagers will actually remove excess furniture from some rooms before a showing. Why? Typically, this is to make the house appear bigger. The eventual buyer will be moving in with all their own furniture, so having an emptier space will allow them to envision how they might arrange things. This can be difficult to picture when the living room is overwhelmed with a large couch or when ottomans and desks crowd the master bedroom.
Additionally, buyers won’t be familiar with the space, so you want to make sure they have room to move freely through the house without running into anything or getting lost. A lack of clutter will help them easily navigate the home. Pull couches and other furniture pieces away from features like windows and built-in bookcases — potential buyers will want to take a good look at these details.

7. Make repairs

You don’t need to spend major amounts of money on repairs as you stage your home, but you’ll want to make sure everything is in working order. If there’s a gas fireplace, make sure it starts easily, and the same goes for any light fixtures, jacuzzi jets, or alarm systems. Potential buyers will want to make sure that your home really does come with the great amenities they’ve been promised, and they will likely want to check things out to make sure they’re all usable.
This is a great time to schedule any small repairs you may have been postponing, from leaky faucets to noisy air conditioning units. There are also plenty of things you can accomplish on your own without needing to hire a service. Patch up any cracks in the basement with spackle or caulk, and touch up any chips in the paint. Do a thorough examination of your home to find anything small that may have escaped your notice.

8. Lighten it up

When a prospective buyer walks into your home, you want them to feel comfortable and at home. No one wants to live in a dark house, especially if you’ve got an attractive backyard or nice views! Raise the blinds on all of your windows to let in as much light as possible, and play up the areas of your house that get the most natural light. (Switching your wall colors to something more neutral can also work wonders in terms of lightening the space.)
As for interior lights, switch on as many as possible. Bathroom lighting can be important to buyers, so make it as bright in there as possible! You’ll also want to make sure prospective buyers can easily navigate the house without having to search for switches in the dark.

9. Highlight nice scents

Ensure that your house makes a good impression on buyers by keeping everything smelling wonderful! This can be achieved by burning subtly scented candles before a showing or placing a scented plug-in in a highly-trafficked room like the living room.
Aside from adding pleasant scents, make sure to keep up with regular home maintenance so that everything smells fresh and clean. That includes opening windows from time to time to bring in some fresh air and regularly taking out the trash, especially if potential buyers will be coming to tour the house.

Browsing homes for sale in Los Gatos? Contact Los Gatos real estate agent Susan Ward today. With years of experience, she will be happy to assist in the search for your dream home.

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