Every year, 43 million Americans move. Surprisingly, despite job losses and uncertainty about almost everything as a result of COVID-19, people are still buying houses and relocating.

Sellers can be optimistic. According to Curbed, prices for homes are not expected to drop, in part because there is not a surplus of desirable homes on the market.

Of course you want to get the best price for your home. You don't want it to linger on the market. You want it to attract serious buyers who won't whittle away at your asking price. In some markets, people are buying homes without setting foot inside them. In these hot markets, bidding wars are not uncommon.

Where people buy

If the home you are selling is located within commuting distance of a major metro area like DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, or Miami, your property will be attractive to people moving away from city-living. They are looking for more space, less high-density living, lower cost of living, and a safer place to raise a family. The growing popularity of remote working has made these moves more practical.     

Even outside of these booming markets, desirable properties are in demand. Houses in inland cities, affordable mid-sized cities, even rural land and homes, are all more popular than years past. It's not just remote workers who are buying, but real estate investors as well. 

No matter what your target market looks like, the fact remains that empty houses and messy houses are not what anxious buyers are attracted to now. Let's take a  look at what will help your home sell.

Use what you own

You don't need to spend money on a home you expect to leave soon. Smart staging calls for creative use of the furnishings already in your home.

Jennifer Rizzo can show you how to
a set of old encyclopedias
to dr
ess up bookshelves for staging.

I've found that removing the not-so-attractive furniture and rearranging the best pieces goes a heck of a long way to upgrading a home's appearance.

Can those pieces that don't look all that stylish, that well maintained, or that valuable be put into storage, donated, or sold? You may want to decorate with a new look at your new home, when pieces can be acquired over time.   

Once you have major pieces in place, you'll want to select the decorative objects that -- shall we say -- reflect the lifestyle you want to become accustomed to?

For finishing touches, choose only the best accessories and pack up the rest. Narrow down your stash of objects like hardcover books, vases, decorative bowls, throw pillows, blankets, wall mirrors,  candles, and houseplants to the biggest and best. Incorporate antiques if you have them. Add a dash of whimsy.

Don't overlook forgotten items that you've tucked away in areas like your basement, attic, garage, closets, or cabinets. I've worked with homeowners whose most interesting decor items were in their garden shed or storage unit --  things we then brought out to help stage rooms that appeal to buyers. You can cover an old set of encyclopedias with white shelf paper, or age them the way the photo above shows. Use a vintage, galvanized washtub for an indoor palm plant. Hang a guitar, an antique sled or even a bike on the wall.

Go minimal for a clean look 

Even a little decluttering and depersonalizing will go a long way.

Homebuyers are especially attentive to cleanliness during COVID-19. A home needs to look clean and smell clean.

Start with a deep clean of your home. Then do what it takes to maintain that image of a well-maintained home, one that looks like it will be easy to maintain. That calls for a lack of clutter. The best staging has always been "less is more," and that approach is even more significant now.

The minimalist look doesn't have to feel cold and unwelcoming. Staging during COVID-19 should depend on what's being labeled "comfort decorating," and "grandma chic" to indicate the trend towards furnishings that emphasize comfort over high-end style. That's definitely good news for sellers who are staging with hand-me-downs and traditional pieces that have been around a while.

An outdoor oasis can suggest
that a home be the place
to staycation. Photo: DecorPad

Stage some special features 

What buyers are looking for now is a home where they can comfortably spend family time, and possibly work from home. They may be homeschooling children. They may have adult children returning to the nest.

Aim to create a space that can function well as a home office or homework central, with good lighting and well-designed seating. It needn't be a large area, so even smaller homes should be able to find an "office spot."

Outdoor areas are more important than ever to people who are relocating from cities. They want amenities like a porch, deck, or patio, the more spacious and private the better. If you have a backyard, add outdoor seats and anything else suitable in your climate -- a firepit or outdoor shower or herb garden or horseshoe pit.
A simple desk with a chair and some accessories are all it
takes to create the look of an office. Photo: DecorPad

Prepare for virtual tours

Most real estate agents are now offering virtual home tours in lieu of in-person showings. This way of showing a property can be a great way to reach buyers who might otherwise be unable to see your property. Make sure the Realtor you choose has the experience to do justice to your listing on a video.

Virtual tours reveal more of your home's interior and exterior than do edited still photos on an MLS online listing. Make sure there are no distracting objects like bathroom toiletries clustered on vanities, small items piled onto tables, or children's and pets' toys scattered about. 

It's a documented fact that staged homes sell more quickly and for more money than homes that are left as-is. Even in a seller's market, staging still pays off. With these tips in mind, you'll be more likely to field multiple offers and spend less time on the market. We all want that!

Your staging will go faster, easier, and for less money when you follow the advice I give in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's a 150-page pdf that you can instantly download now.

Top Photo: Lucan Allen, Country Living