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DIY Staging Tips for Home Sellers

The buzzword today among residential real estate agents is staging. Staging a home can change the atmosphere of a home that attracts homebuyers and can bring a higher price and speed up the time to market. By adding small decorative touches, rearranging or removing furniture, or creating vignettes, a home can look like a professional set designer was hired.

Mark Nash, author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home, has seen the best and worst of staging a home as a Chicago realtor and shares some do’s and don’ts for home sellers. who want to test your house.


-Collect recent home decor magazines. If you’re not up to speed on current decorating trends, it will help you become familiar with how interior design is marketed. Tab pages with low cost ideas that will make your home say today.

– Invite a friend or real estate agent. A second or third set of eyes will help you bring out the best and edit out the worst in your home. Be prepared for some constructive criticism. You want to hear it before you put your home on the market, not as feedback from prospective buyers. Go room by room with a worksheet so you can take notes. Depending on how much time you have available for an upgrade or makeover, you’ll need to prioritize and figure out what will give you the most performance. Do this at least two months before you put your house on the market.

-Organize a home office if you don’t have one. They are not a trend; they are required for homebuyers in 2006. Many homebuyers today work from home part-time or full-time or want a space where they can organize their lives and park a computer. Find an extra bedroom, walk-in closet, or unused nook and turn it into a home office. Make sure there is a convenient power, telephone, and cable supply.

-Focus on living spaces. These areas are where most homebuyers will spend their time. Place a side table and a floor lamp next to a comfortable chair as a reading corner. Float sofas and coffee tables away from the walls for a designer look. Use throw rugs to anchor groups of furniture to bare wood and tile floors. Living spaces must have matching table lamps. Optimize family photos and put green plants in the room. Fireplaces should always be operable and lit in season. Place clusters of candles and clear glass bowls filled with natural potpourri on coffee and end tables. Substantial wicker baskets can organize magazines, remote controls, and toys. Limit trinkets to make room for staging materials.

-Give attention to the Kitchens. Keep all kitchen towels and rags in a practical drawer. Reduce recipe boxes, cookware barrels, excess cooking machines and cookbooks by two-thirds to open up counter space. For a quick upgrade, put new hardware in the cabinets. Find a secluded spot for a portable dishwasher. Clean everything on the refrigerator door. Skip the rugs scattered around the kitchen. Clear window frames to open up outside views. Organize cabinets with clear containers. If you can’t see the back wall of a cabinet, buyers will think you don’t have enough storage space. Ditto cabinets. Budget to keep a variety of fresh fruits in a glass container on the counter. Edit family bulletin boards. Remove old curtains and install new wooden shutters on the windows.

-Spend time in sleeping and bathing spaces. Often overlooked in the rush to get a house on the market, these spaces can make or break a home. Purchase a set consisting of a matching bed skirt, bedspread, matching pillowcases and blinds. Buy a new shower curtain and separate liner. Wash the liner frequently if mildew develops. Add complete sets of towels to match your new shower curtain. Wipe off all cosmetics from the vanity. If you have a cabinet over the toilet, consider removing it and putting a piece of art in its place. Remember to keep items in the “too much information” category out of sight. If you have a king-size bed in a small room, you’ll pay for buyers to outweigh this negative, so get rid of it now. Clean the dresser and nightstands of excess. Make sure the bedroom gets as much natural light as possible. Install closet organizers in closets. Eliminate wall and door hooks for clothes. People can look under your bed, no surprises please.

-Remember first impressions on tickets. A simple console table with a mirror above it makes a nice entryway. Make sure this space is well lit day or night. Put adhesive under rugs so shoppers don’t trip or slide.

not to do

-Use cheap silk flowers. Nothing distracts shoppers more than old-fashioned, seasonally inappropriate, or mixed-up silk flowers. Throw them out now.

-Forget about upgrading Fido’s bowl. I have experienced more unhealthy pet food bowls, water stations, and litter boxes than I care to remember. We know you love your pet, but show it to homebuyers.

-Ignore window coverings. Today’s buyers think less is more in window fashion. They want the most light and the least amount of window decorations. And no sheer panel layering, please.

-Use low voltage light bulbs. Dim, dark rooms are not attractive to homebuyers. They want to see what they could buy. Replace light bulbs with manufacturer-recommended wattages, especially those that are burnt out. The newer energy saving light bulbs do not cast a flattering light on the home or people.

-Think that everyone loves wallpaper. No two people have the same taste in this instant finish decorator. If it is more than three years old, take it apart and paint it a neutral color. And the wallpapers are out.

-Painted with commitment colors. If you’ve determined you need to paint, stay away from flashy colors, or as I call them, compromise colors. Engagement colors are those that buyers either love or hate. It can be difficult for buyers to layer their style on them. As a client told me “I don’t live in a magazine”.

-Think that cleaning is part of the staging. Cleaning is what you do before staging. Everything must sparkle and shine. Don’t forget the windows.

Use these DIY tips to get your house on the stage at your local movie house for sale.

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