Monday, February 10, 2020

If You Stage Your Home, Make it Sensual!

Happy Valentine's Day. For readers who live in countries where this is not a national holiday, I can explain. It is a day set aside for people to show their love. We do this by spending money. This day of celebration was invented by the chocolate, florist, greeting card, restaurant, and jewelry industries.

But seriously, I think people should show their love 365 days a year. Instead of bestowing commercially produced tokens of affection, loyalty, and passion on February 14, how about we all just show kindness to the people we love? Like, all year.

Still, go to Olive Garden for their breadstick Valentine bouquet.

If your home is for sale, spend that chocolate and roses money on a few things to make people fall in love with it!

You can make buyers fall head over heels for your house, and all it takes is paying attention to the senses and how they make an atmosphere inviting.

COLORS SPEAK TO BUYERS

Soft colors like pastels and whites add a romantic feel to any space. Colors like corals, lilacs and blues -- even in pale shades -- may not be ideal for all the walls in your home, but elsewhere they are what will add personality to your home.

So, use these "friendly" colors in small doses, like vases, artwork, pillows or lamps. The books, lamps, paintings, rug and bedding in this photo from Whitney Campeau show how soft tones can create a soothing bedroom scene.

Do you have some paint left from DIY projects you've done for your home? Properly stored, a can of paint will last for up to five years. If you add some of it to white paint you'll automatically have a pastel that will harmonize with what's existing in your home. It takes lots of white to make a pastel, so don't try adding white to a can of dark or highly saturated colored paint. Rather, start with white paint and gradually add small amounts of that leftover deep color.

Professional stagers know that intense wall colors can be hurdles to prospective buyers. Most of today's buyers want a home they can move into without fixing or updating anything. As much as you love your cherry red dining room walls or chartreuse powder room, buyers see these as projects they don't want to tackle. Go neutral with walls. Here's my best advice on choosing interior paint colors.

Don't let your house get photographed and listed like this. 
If you are having an open house, use signs and pennants with matching colors. When it's for sale, your house is like a mini-business, and up to half of all customers find a business because of signage. Does your Realtor have an eye-catching sign that's well maintained? I've blogged about how to DIY a simple pennant banner for an open house to help people find your home and attract passersby.

TEXTURES MAKE A ROOM INTERESTING

Incorporating some varied textures is important in any well-decorated home. This fact is especially true in a staged home where the color scheme is simple, and a simple color palette is usually the kind of look we aim for when we stage. 

Here's a homework assignment: Walk through the rooms of your home and look for interesting textures. Have you incorporated some smooth and shiny surfaces, some rough and nubby textures, and some fluffy or even furry materials? If you're not seeing a variety, here are samples to get you playing with textures.

Place a rustic basket or wooden bowl on your glass- or marble-topped table. How about a flokati rug on the tile floor of your entrance? Or a loopy yarn throw on the arm of a leather loveseat? Stage a wicker bar cart with chrome tumblers and a crystal decanter. These kinds of contrasting textures add subtle variety to a room

I'm crazy for these pillow covers I made from a fuzzy, thrift store sweater, and then
combined them with velvet pillows to telegraph that feeling of relaxation. Yum! 
People touring your home will "feel" these surfaces with their eyes. They might even want to get close, run their hand over the cool granite countertop, or touch that lush, potted fern on the nightstand. These are the luxury touches that appeal to the tactile sense. Buyers want to think they are taking steps up the social ladder with their home purchase. Luxury is important to Americans, who spend a whopping 42 hours a week commuting. They want a dream home to come home to.

Retail outlets know that when a customer picks up a piece of merchandise to handle it, chances of an actual purchase go up. Make buyers feel your home.

SCENTS PUT BUYERS IN A HAPPY FRAME OF MIND

The sense of smell is so important that it's another trick high-end hotels and department stores use to coax buyers into a positive mindset. Forward-thinking stores that can afford it scent their indoor air with fragrances like vanilla, lavender, jasmine, bergamot, sandalwood, musk, lemongrass, citrus and pine.

You can imitate this powerful strategy. People will tend to linger longer, and judge your home as more pleasant, cleaner, and more memorable when it has a pleasing ambient scent.

The right way to cast this spell is to use essential oils, not artificial fragrances like so-called air fresheners and scented candles. Sorry, Scentsy, Fabreze, and Glade, but you guys are hormone disruptors that mess with our health. Follow that link to read how to make natural scents with essential oils. (Relax, I am not a distributor.)

Using essential oils will keep you healthier, and will prevent anyone touring your home who is chemically sensitive from experiencing common allergic reactions like coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes. That's not the experience you want to create for prospective buyers.

EDIBLES APPEAL TO THE SENSE OF TASTE

You don't need a fancy expresso machine
to stage a refreshment center for
your home on the market. This one by
Nina Hendrick would let people on
tour of your home make a cup of coffee.  
Some Realtors recommend setting out cookies for people who come to see your home. It seems a little hokey to me, but if that's the tradition in your area of the country, you don't want to be the exception.

An open house is another story. That's the perfect time to have some light refreshments that will set a welcoming and casual tone, and perhaps encourage people to stay a little longer. It would have to be monitored, especially if children are coming by.

If it's winter, hot drinks like green tea (which has less caffeine than black tea) or hot chocolate would be a nice touch. In warm months, you can't go wrong with chilled water or iced tea.

You may even consider having some candy in a small bowl by your front door. Make them individually wrapped and nothing too precious. Peppermints, small candy bars, or wrapped chocolates are a nice touch.

These are the kinds of things that will help people remember your home after touring a number of homes in one day.

FLORALS DELIGHT THE EYES

Staged homes on the market often get criticized for being "too vanilla." And to that I say, "What is wrong with vanilla?" Vanilla is America's most popular flavor! But if you want to add some "sprinkles" or "hot fudge sauce" to your staged room, flowers and plants are the way to do just that.

There is something special and even magical about flowers, even ones that are not real. I never recommend buying fresh flowers for staging unless you are living in your home, have a generous floral budget, and already have a routine of picking up a fresh bouquet every week. If your Realtor is scheduling an open house, I hope she's springing for the fresh flowers.

My vote goes to silk flowers that stay looking just-picked. Today's silks are classy and convincing. In lieu of flowers, you can stage with green plants that are either real or artificial. Green plants add that sense of freshness to a space without calling attention to themselves the way a big floral centerpiece does. I have my favorite very-low-maintenance houseplants.

I encourage you to try a few of these ideas when you're staging your own home, and I know you'll see, feel and smell the difference. If you need more inspiration and how-tos, download my eBooks on home staging. They come with a money-back guarantee. One click takes you to more information about how to order and what you get. You can start smart-staginng your home today!


Monday, February 3, 2020

Four Mistakes You Might Be Making When You Stage

I'm all about encouraging home sellers to stage their own homes!

According to Family Handyman Magazine, staged homes spend up 90% less time on the market than unstaged homes do.

That's an impressive figure. It translates into money in your pocket, because there are always carrying costs when a home sits on the market -- costs like insurance, taxes, mortgage payments, and maintenance expenses.

But I always remind people that staging a home involves more than adding some toss pillows and hiding family photos. Often it calls for tedious jobs, some dirty work, or even heavy lifting.

Experienced professional stagers know how to take precautions to make sure no one gets hurt. Here are the most common mistakes I've seen inexperienced DIY-ers make. I want you to stay safe when you stage. Because getting hurt is no fun!

You're not dressing right for work

Protect yourself. Protect your wardrobe. Wear what will keep you safe, save you time, and help you do a better job. I've blogged about how to dress for yardwork and how to dress for painting projects.

Always wear closed-toe shoes, never flip-flops, slippers, clogs, or sandals, when you tackle a home repair or furniture moving job. Invest in some shoes that are comfortable, support your ankles, and prevent slips and trips. 

A pair of safety glasses will protect your eyes when you deal with scraping popcorn ceilings, pruning shrubbery, or using power tools. I like mine because they have a warm tint to them, so I see the world literally with rose-colored glasses when I wear them!

I keep gloves for every chore -- latex ones for wet work, nitrile ones for painting, and heavy-weight but flexible gloves for demolition work. It's a joke in my family that I never saw a pair of gloves I didn't like. The right gloves will give you a better grip, and protect your hands from injury, and (horrors!) a ruined manicure.

Fasteners like nails, screws, tacks, and bolts cause 30% of all injuries that happen when people are doing home improvement projects. Keep your work area clean and organized as you work. If you do get a puncture wound, you should get a tetanus shot.
  
You might not enjoy wearing it,
but it's going to keep you safe.
Photo:YourGloveSource
A particulate mask will protect you from dust particles but you need something more serious if you are going to be using epoxy paints and glues, oil-based primers, or strong cleaning products. You need a full-face respirator. Yes, it will cost you, but they will protect your precious lungs and keep toxins from circulating through your system. Ventilate your work area to avoid the dangers that things like mold and spray paints present.

Be aware of where lead paint and asbestos can lurk, and don't disturb these substances by sanding or removing them.

You don't know how to use a ladder correctly

Slip and fall injuries can happen easily in your home while you're doing work you're not accustomed to doing, like climbing ladders.

Most likely you will use a 6-foot stepladder to do things like paint walls, clean a ceiling fan, install drapery hardware, or hang a large painting. Be sure the ladder is on a level surface and that it doesn't have any slippery, loose or broken steps. Don't use the top rung as a step. Don't use a metal ladder when working with electricity. If possible, have someone spot you or hold the bottom of the ladder while you work.

Chances are you won't be using an extension ladder for home staging, but in case you need to clean out gutters or do some high work, be careful! Have a spotter stand on the ground but with both feet braced against the ladder's bottom legs. Make sure the ground is level and stable. Follow the "four-one" rule. For every four feet of ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from a wall or structure.

No matter what kind of ladder you use, don't over-reach while standing on it. Instead, climb down the ladder and move it.
I love a ladder like this for all kinds of
household tasks. It stores well, is safe,
and is super-versatile. Photo: Support Plus

You're lifting things the wrong way 

Avoid lifting furniture if possible. In my eBook on furniture arranging, I recommend using gliders to place under the feet of furniture. They make a world of difference when you're not exactly sure where you want furnishings to go and you need to see a few variations. These small, inexpensive devices are game-changers.

If you must lift a piece of furniture, hold it close to your body, and at or below waist level with your elbows tucked in. Don't bend from the waist. Instead, crouch with your knees bent to avoid back injuries.

If upright, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in order to distribute the weight of the furniture more evenly. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed as you work rearranging things. This will give you more control and reduce the chance of hurting yourself or the furniture.

Pace yourself, and don't try to move heavier pieces on your own. Even if it seems silly to ask for help with a lighter piece, it's far better to have a buddy than to be out of commission when a job needs to be done, or to do damage to furniture or walls or door casings.

Gliders under furniture pieces will protect your floors when you are
moving things around, as well as make your job easier.

You leave valuables in plain sight

Besides putting yourself in danger of bodily harm, there's also the possibility of emotional or financial harm. These days, you can't be naive. Be defensive. Get proactive about staying safe.

If you are alone in an unoccupied or vacant house and working on staging it, don't be obvious about it to passersby. Keep the doors locked, even if you have a helper or two. Keep your phone on your person. Most women Realtors and professional house cleaners keep pepper spray with them because they are usually working alone or even in teams and know they could be victimized easily.

When you are living in the house, failing to protect your valuables and personal information when you stage and list your home leaves you susceptible to trouble once people start touring your home. Realtors cannot accompany every person to every room when showing your house. Thieves operate as couples. Some scumbags schedule tours of homes just so they can survey a place and then come back to burglarize it when no one is there.

Jewelry, electronics, and small antiques should be kept out of view. Larger valuables, such as artwork or expensive gadgets, should also be secured or removed before your home is photographed and listed.

Keep your personal or professional paperwork stored safely, never visible. In the wrong hands, your financial information could do long term damage to your whole family.

Remove personal items like sports trophies and family photos, as well. These can be off-putting to buyers and could make your children vulnerable to being targeted.

Of course you'll remove prescription drugs from the premises. Even if people are genuine buyers on a serious home tour, seeing something that's valuable or useful can be tempting. People can be impulsive. Don't give them any excuse to take advantage of you.

Get the look, Get the book. 

I hope these reminders will encourage you to stay safe while staging. And I hope you take advantage of my home staging eBooks to sell your home quickly and for a good price! They will help you stage your home to make prospective buyers feel like they are walking into anyone's version of paradise -- even if your property isn't a paradise like Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands!

It's winter and I am dreaming of a getaway! Photo: Magnum Helicopters

Monday, January 20, 2020

3 Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make

If you are getting your home ready to sell, part of your "homework" should be to check what's current in your local online real estate listings.

This kind of research is crucial because once you see how homes like yours look and what the asking prices are, you'll have a good idea what your competition will be.

Don't compare your property to the ones that show poorly. Compare yours to the ones that show well, and then do what's smart to meet or beat them.

If you're like me, looking at online photos or at open houses, you'll begin to see some common mistakes made by poorly motivated (or else naive) home sellers.

These are the three that stand out for me, mistakes I don't want you to make!

Kitchen Without Updates

The kitchen is to many buyers the most important room of the house. Because so much goes on in the typical kitchen, a lovable one can be a major selling feature.

And an unlovable kitchen can be a dealbreaker. How does yours look? How does it function? Does it show off some updates?

You don't need a full renovation to keep your kitchen market-ready. Good kitchen cabinets can last up to 50 years. If your cabinets are well maintained and sturdy, consider giving them an update with a coat of paint and new hardware. My vote goes to white cabinets, either bright white, or a softer white, depending on what other fixed features are in the room. Work with the undertones in your flooring, counters and backsplash to choose a good white.

All white kitchens are still popular. Don't be afraid your white kitchen will look too sterile. You can add warmth and color with props like cutting boards, plants, fruit, cookware or dishes.

If your kitchen floor is dated or shows signs of wear, get estimates on replacing the flooring. Depending on what type of flooring you choose and the size of the room, you may be surprised at what a quick and economical fix it can be.

If your kitchen is large enough to accommodate one, add an island, one that is not fixed to the floor, but one you can take with you like a commercial-grade, stainless work table, or a farmhouse style vintage table.

A jazzy new faucet and sink are sure to impress buyers. Shop around for the best bargains. Or work with a local plumber who can give you suggestions for saving money.

White is always in style, in dining rooms, kitchens, baths...everywhere.
It's easy to warm up these spaces with wood tones and the right accessories.
Even though this dining room has a wall of windows, a light over the table
centers the room and adds another layer of light. 

Dark Interiors

A well-lit home is a brighter, more spacious home. Sometimes just changing light bulbs to LEDs isn't enough. You don't have to purchase high-end lighting fixtures to make a room look big and bright. Shop online or at a Habitat ReStore for modern, economical fixtures that add plenty of illumination and style.

If you've rearranged furniture and the ceiling fixture isn't in an appropriate place anymore, it's possible you can easily swag it to a new location. You can find tutorials online for swagging or wiring a ceiling fixture yourself. Just follow instructions carefully. Take your time, watch where you step, and use a wooden or resin ladder that does not conduct electricity. You never see an electrician with an aluminum ladder!

Most rooms need some accent lights and task lights in addition to general ambient lighting.  I like floor lamps because they look important, illuminate well, and don't eat up tabletop space. For your table lamps and floor lamps, avoid lampshades that obscure too much light. White, drum-shaped lampshades are in style now and they allow plenty of light to shine through and above and below them.

Don't list your house until you've made it as light and bright as you can. Pull back those curtains or use sheers. Make sure your Realtor knows where important light switches and lamps are located, and label them if it's not clear. Put some of your lights on timers or smart devices.

Your bath may not be huge or glamorous, 
but the right staging can help it 
look that way! Photo: Betsy Brown 

Nothing Unique

I hope you have one element of your home that sets it apart from all the other homes in your price range. If it's something you're proud of, make sure buyers see it!

Your unique feature could be the one thing they remember about your home after viewing five other properties that day. They will want to return for another look.

What you see as special about your home might not appeal to every buyer, but those who appreciate it will be willing to pay for a beneficial and unique characteristic. Again, go through those online pictures of your competition to discover what you have that the others do not.

Maybe you have an extra-large backyard. If so, show it off with landscaping or even adding a major element like an herb garden, a seating area around a fire pit, a patio with a grill, an enclosed hot tub, or a tennis court. These are the kind of improvements that make a home above average in buyers' minds.

Maybe you have a beautiful fireplace. Make it the focal point of the room. If your master bathroom is what you love most about your home, keep it pristine and gorgeously staged like a spa. If the garage is a selling point, don't use it for storage, but organize it, clean it, and stage it to make people jealous.

Don't have photos of your house taken until you have at least one special feature that will make online house hunters want to schedule a viewing.

A fireplace is always an asset, so make yours the star of the show by
clustering furniture around it. Artwork above and a simple mantel staging
make this beautiful Sarah Richardson living room fireplace-focused.


Your Home Inspection Reveals All

While you prep your home for sale, remember that whoever makes an offer on your property will likely be paying for a home inspection. You won't have any secrets. That mold in the basement? He will write it up. That window that doesn't close? He'll notice. That bathtub that drains slowly? Yup, that goes into his report, too.

Buyers will either want these problems fixed, or they will want a discount. You can speed up the sale of your home and save yourself some money by taking care of any neglected maintenance issues before you even talk to Realtors. The discounts buyers ask for will probably exceed what your repair costs will be.

So, make those roof repairs. Check stairways and railings, both inside and out, so there is nothing that could cause someone to fall. Have your HVAC system and plumbing system checked. I recently read that a trillion gallons of water, worth $6 billion, are wasted each year as the result of running toilets, dripping faucets, or other leaks. If a buyer sees that your home has damaged fixtures or obsolete systems, they may put an offer on a home they like as much but that needs fewer repairs. People want move-in ready!

Get the Look Get the Book

You can avoid these mistakes and others common to home sellers if you download my home staging eBook. I'll walk you through all the smart steps you need to get your home market-ready so you can get the price you like, and quickly. Staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes. Maximize your investment when you sell. It's easy when I show you how.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Here's How to Make Your Green Home Someone's Dream Home

DIYHomeStagingTips
When the home you are listing is an up-to-date, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly green home, some buyers will be skittish about exactly what they are buying.

"It's fancy, schmancy and trendy," they're thinking, "But what does that mean to me and my pocketbook and what skills will I have to learn to maintain these new systems?"

Your job as a home seller is to set these qualms to rest and let the prospective buyers know the distinct advantages of buying a green home. Most likely you'll communicate with prospects only through your listing agent, so it's crucial that your Realtor understands these benefits.

There are two ways to do this. One is to have a walk-through of your property with her, when you will point out the specifics that are considered energy-efficient money-savers or safety features. Or you can pass along literature you have (or can create) that explains these features, such as copies of the manuals that came with your Energy Star refrigerator or programmable thermostat. Alternatively, you can provide online links to these manuals.

Ideally, you can do both. It's all about communication.   

Talk About the Safety

Especially if your home is an older one, buyers might be concerned that materials and construction techniques used 50 or 100 years ago won't be energy-efficient by today's standards. They might be worried about the structural integrity, termites, radon, outgassing plastics, lead paint, asbestos, mold, and outdated plumbing or electrical systems.

Let your Realtor know whatever you know about the strength and quality of the materials in your home, highlighting their reduced impact on the environment. For example, if your home is partially constructed of recycled steel, buyers might be happy to know that steel is the most recycled material on earth, with up to 90%  of recycled content.

A home inspection will reveal if there are problems with plumbing or electric wiring, but if buyers are nervous about an old fuse box or copper pipes, they might walk away rather than pay for an inspection.

If your home has asbestos siding, buyers need to be reassured that it poses no danger unless it is cut, sawed, or broken into small enough asbestos fibers that can become airborne. Actually, undisturbed asbestos is rot-proof, fireproof, and good at insulating a home. Termites don't bother it, and it's easy to paint.

Point out materials that may be unfamiliar to buyers, like flooring made from sustainable bamboo, or recycled flooring materials like stone, old wood, cork, and rubber. Emphasize the methods used to create certain recyclable plastic components, like reaction injection molding  -- the new way molded polyurethane parts are made, when two liquid components are mixed and injected into the mold where they chemically react and cure.

The Realtor should know about exterior lights that automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn, about the video doorbell that lets you see from your phone who's at the door, and about any home security system you have, including the fact of whether or not these things convey with the home purchase. The more information your home shoppers have, the more confident they'll feel about buying your home.

Talk about the Savings

Buyers love saving money. The more specific you can be about energy costs, the better. Heating and cooling make up 54% of annual utility bills in an average home. If buyers think they are paying extra for your double-paned glass windows and other energy-efficient features, let your Realtor have a statement from your utility company that shows your billing for the past year to demonstrate the savings that come with good windows and up-to-date insulation and HVAC systems.

If your major appliances convey with your house and they are new-ish,
make sure buyers know they are energy-efficient. Photo: ComEd  
Major appliances account for 25% of a home's energy costs. If you are replacing older appliances with newer models as part of your staging, you might even leave the yellow and black Energy Star stickers on them to make it obvious how energy-efficient they are!

If you've had insulation added to your attic space, basement, or crawl space, let your Realtor have copies of the invoices itemizing the work that was done. Buyers will be happy that they don't have to pay for the work.

Buyers can also learn that you've swapped out your incandescents with warm-colored LED bulbs that last 50 times longer.

A programmable thermostat looks impressive, the simple ones aren't expensive, and they can shave as much as 10% off heating and cooling costs. If you have a tankless water heater, specify it in the MLS data, because people will notice. Typical water heating accounts for 12% of a home's utility bill.

Look for ways to decrease energy consumption further before listing your green home. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program estimates that adding insulation and properly sealing air leaks, monthly energy bills could be slashed by up to 20%.

Eco-friendly homes emphasize lower energy use for the sake of a reduced carbon footprint, and less energy consumed means more money saved.

Talk about the Environment

While some eco-friendly, green homes feature unconventional landscaping like an overgrown wildflower meadow for a front yard, or an expanse of barren rocks and sand in place of turf, an environmentally sound landscape doesn't have to call attention to itself.

A drought-resistant yard design that relies on native plants
can look good all year. Photo: ThePressDemocrat   

If your landscaping is appropriate for your climate, if it conserves water, if it incorporates indigenous plants instead of exotics, if it includes some wild areas as habitats for wildlife like birds and butterflies, if deciduous trees shade your home in summer and evergreen trees protect it from winter winds, and if you have mulched around flower beds and trees to reduce water usage and minimize lawn, then you have a right to brag about it as an environmentally friendly landscape.

Other signs that you are conscious of your home's impact on the environment: a bat house that will help control the mosquito population, ground covers that don't require chemical fertilizers or irrigation to thrive, and a rain barrel. Most people don't realize that one inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square foot roof can produce 600 gallons of water that can be collected in rain barrels at the corners of the home and used to irrigate a property.     

Your city or county may have restrictions in place that ban some plants as invasive species, that don't allow an outdoor clothesline, that determine how near trees can be to your home, or how much water can be used for irrigation. Ideally, any irrigating you do will be on a drip system rather than a more wasteful spray system.

When you're marketing your home, it's crucial to fine-tune your curb appeal by keeping trees and shrubs pruned and tidy. Avoid "topping" them, and instead practice "crown thinning" to keep them healthy and attractive, removing only 10 to 15% of the live growth in the tree's interior.

Once you've listed your home, you'll need to check features like fountains, birdbaths, and pools so they are clean and functioning. If you have a pool, it can boost your home’s value by up to 7%, if it is customary in your market area and if the pool is in good condition.

Get the look. Get the book.

Your home may be greener than you realize! Advertise your eco-friendly qualities by making them obvious and attractive.

Selling an eco-friendly home doesn't have to be a challenge. In fact, savvy buyers will appreciate the modern conveniences, the safety, and the ethics of your property. Even buyers reluctant to purchase a home only a techy could love, once they are educated, will happily get on board. And that means a purchase offer coming your way!

Learn more about how to get your home sold quickly at a price you like by downloading my eBooks on home staging.  You can start your staging today.

Friday, January 3, 2020

How to kick off your homestaging

Is one of your New Year's resolutions is to sell your home this year? If so, it's never too early to begin planning for success.

Even if selling isn't on your agenda yet, if you own a home, chances are that sooner or later you'll be selling it. Last year, the stats show that the average homeowner in America moved after eight years. 

The time to begin your home staging plans is as soon as you are confident that you will place your home for sale. Here is my 7-step program to make the home-selling process smooth and profitable.

1. Choose a Realtor

I always encourage sellers to work with a real estate agent. I've given tips on how to choose a Realtor and how to work with your Realtor so you both benefit.

An experienced Realtor will provide you with the information to get you started and help you understand the process, the current market, and a realistic value for your home. Get to know what your competition looks like. Study online photos of similarly priced homes. You need to meet or beat those standards!

2. Plan your budget

As soon as you know what your home could sell for, you'll have a better idea of what you can spend to make it as marketable as possible. Yes, it takes money to make money. Every home needs tweaking to become the dream home for a large demographic. Even if it's just cleaning supplies and a storage unit, be prepared to spend something to get the best return on your most important investment.

3. Evaluate your home

Get real about your home's problems and needs. Here's another area where a Realtor and a home inspector are indispensable. If you've chosen the right ones and pay attention, they will steer you in the right direction about ways your home might be outdated, cluttered, or in need of repairs. Don't get offended or defensive. It's just business. It's time to detach yourself emotionally from this piece of property.

Even when a home doesn't have an open floor plan,
buyers like to see from one room to another.
Keep doors open, and let photos for MLS
reflect how rooms relate to each other.   

4. Plan furniture arrangement

Determine the traffic pattern through your home -- the way people on tour will enter and walk through your house. That's the first step in deciding what furniture will go where.

Make the path obvious and easily accessible.

Make the focal point or best feature of each room quickly visible.

Make the eye move evenly and smoothly around the room.

Make the singular purpose of each room clear.

5. Take Inventory

Based on what your real estate agent has told you and what you've learned by studying your floor plan and traffic pattern, you can determine what furniture will best increase the perceived value of your home and what will detract from it.

Do you want to sell the furniture that "just isn't working?" You might decide that some can be refreshed with a coat of paint, or a new slipcover to jive with a simplified color scheme. The furnishings that don't help sell your home, but are pieces you value and don't want to part with can be stored off-site.

Once you know what furnishings will stay, it's time to list what pieces might be missing. Now's a good time to hunt for bargains. Don't forget to let friends and relatives know what you need.

6. Create a staging area

Your collection of samples and possible
staging supplies doesn't need to look this neat.
But it should keep you motivated.
Photo: BeachBlissLiv   
This next step really gets the ball rolling and convinces you that your home will be on the market soon!

Anything new that will be part of your home's staging can ideally be stored in one place.

Clear an area somewhere in your home where you can keep everything from fabric, notes to yourself, color swatches, and inspirational shelter magazines, to that new end table you found at Salvation Army and the throw pillows you're going to recover.

Seeing all these items in one place is constantly reassuring to me.

When you've set up your staging area, there's always one place to go when you need to check a measurement or color match. It's also a place to put the "maybes" -- those pictures and vases and trays and blankets you're not sure what to do with yet. 

Your staging area might be part of a closet, under a bed, a corner of the garage, or it could be a spare bedroom or the attic. Of course, this process is much easier if the home you are staging is vacant, but most DIY home stagers don't have that luxury.
      

7. Buy my eBook

As a final step to home sale prep, you'll need my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast For Top Dollar. The title says it all. I give you everything you need to make staging both economical and effective! You'll learn what I've learned over my 27 years in the construction, real estate, and home decorating businesses. It's all there in a 150-page pdf -- the formulas, the secrets, the shortcuts, ideas, and encouragement you need. You can do this! You're just two clicks away from kicking off your home staging plan.

Top and middle photos: BHG     



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