4 Rules for Home Staging
Home staging is a great way to improve the selling potential of your home. If a healthy relationship is developed between you, your home and your realtor then you have a great chance of selling your home at the right time for the right price.
Here are the things that when used as a ‘package’ will improve the selling potential of your home
- The price is appropriate based on a reputable realtor’s knowledge and recommendation – not yours
- Marketing is sufficient
- It is a healthy real estate market for your homes’ price range based on the economy/interest rates/etc…
- The home is in tip-top selling condition
So obviously 2 of those things are the Realtor’s responsibilities, 1 of those is subject to mortgage rates/economy/season and 1 of those is all about YOU.
The Homeowner’s Responsibilities
Yes, YOU play one of the most important roles in the sale of your home and your responsibility is equally as important as the Realtor’s and there are some key rules/guidelines for you to follow to improve the selling potential of your home – it’s time to get your sweat on!
Now I like to think of myself as a designer who is well-grounded in reality (most of the time anyway…) and I know you only have so much time, energy and money to invest in your home. I also know that many of you have kids, pets and lifestyle requirements that make it more ‘challenging’ to present your home in tip-top shape, therefore, the suggestions I make are based on that knowledge, so humour me…(as I have young kids and pets too…and a hubby).
4 Key Rules for Homeowners
Home Staging Rule #1 Clean Clean Clean
I have been in many homes where the homeowner ‘feels’ that their home is clean. Your home cannot be clean based on your standards – unless you are remarkably anal. You can probably tell me that you are clean and I can probably tell you that you aren’t clean enough. Hey, I have kids too and I know how it can get. But the reality is if you get your home fantastically clean and then make a concentrated effort to maintain it, it will all be manageable.
Having kids/pets is not an excuse for having an unclean home when you are trying to sell. If you would like to stay in your house then fill yer boots!
Aside from keeping a clutter-free and tidy space, here are the jobs that you should be doing every 2 -3 days (you want to sell your home, right?)
- Sinks and faucets (kitchen and bathroom)
- Countertops and table (including dining and coffee tables)
Now here are the things that you could/should hire a cleaner to do. If you maintain your home then this should only need to be done once If your home is on the market for a longer period of time you may need to check/re-do every 2 months. If you tend to be rough on your home, you need to check these things every 2 weeks.
- Baseboards and trims – Especially the tops of baseboards in kitchens, entryways and bathrooms. The crap that collects there is a major turnoff to a buyer with clean sensibilities. Also wipe down your door trims from 4′ down; this is where they get the most wear and tear. A basic cloth with soap and water should be enough to take off any built-up grime.
- Light switch covers – An amazing amount of finger goo can build up on these just from day-to-day use.
- Cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms – You may not notice all of the drips and gooey stuff that has dried on your cabinets, but potential buyers will! If you take a step back you may also notice a build-up of grease around the handles and stove area. Use a 1 to 4 vinegar to water mixture and a clean cloth. If that doesn’t cut through then use just vinegar on its own. Be cautious when using actual ‘degreasers’ like TSP and Goo Gone as they can often remove the finish on the cabinets as well as the grease.
- Walls in high-traffic areas – This is often the case in entryways/stairwells where hands and shoes scuff the area up to the 4′ mark. Do not use just a damp cloth to wipe your walls – always use some kind of soap/cleaner or you will upset your paint finish.
- Windows in main areas – It can be costly to have the interior and exterior of your windows cleaned. Just be sure that the ones in your 5 Key Rooms are clean inside and out – especially if you have a view!
- Grout on the floor/in showers and caulking around the base of the toilet/tub/shower surround/sink – Start by using a basic bathroom cleaner and a toothbrush (not your spouses…) to scrub these areas. If the grout does not come clean, consider purchasing a more industrial cleaner like Zep Grout Cleaner from Home Depot. If your caulking is mouldy in the shower then a mixture of bleach and water should take care of it. If that doesn’t work then you need to remove it and re-do it.
- Window sills – Mouldy window sills can be a red flag for potential buyers who may think the home has a moisture/air circulation issue and can also be a reminder that the windows are old and outdated. Here is an excellent ‘how-to’ for effectively cleaning the mould from your window sills.
#1 – Pet Odour. Whether it’s a litter box or a rug that has been urinated on (by a pet…) buyers will be sensitive to smells that don’t exist in their own home. You may have adjusted to the smells in your home, so just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean that they can’t. Go on the assumption that your cat litter smells as does your rug and take the appropriate steps to ensure that they don’t. This may involve new cat litter that has odour control, cleaning the litter daily and having your carpets cleaned by a professional cleaner who is trained to deal with pet odour (don’t try to save money by doing it yourself – it’s never the same – buck-up buttercup.)
#2 – Smoke. There are very few things that put a potential buyer off more than the smell of smoke. I have been in homes where the homeowner doesn’t smoke in the house – yet it still smells like smoke? This is because they often smoke outside the home; often in the garage or out on the back deck. The smell of smoke infiltrates the house and usually effects an area of approx 200 sq ft surrounding the area where they enter/exit when they smoke.
I appreciate you may like to smoke, however, you have to realize that it may affect the sale of your home – whether you can smell it or not.
Read more: The 8 Best Paint Colours for Home Staging
Home Staging Rule #2 Declutter Your 5 Key Rooms
Read more: Home Staging Tips – 5 Key Rooms
You may think that potential buyers will ‘look past’ all of your belongings to see the bones of the home, but many will not be able to. If buyers are distracted by the amount of furnishings/accessories in a home, they will be unlikely to notice the features that actually ‘come with’ the home.
Yes, it will feel different, it won’t feel like your space anymore, it will feel impersonal and it may be slightly less visually interesting to you – but these are all good things. You want to sell your home, right? Your space needs to be the best reflection of ‘itself’ rather than the best reflection of ‘you‘.
Here are some ideas to help you do this…
Define the Focal Point
Every room should have a focal point and you need to ensure that the layout of your furniture complements it. In your living room it’s a fireplace/view, in a bedroom it’s the headboard wall and in the dining room, it’s the center of the table. If you have too much furniture in a room then viewers will not be able to see beyond it. Likewise, if you have too many accessories or too much artwork cluttering your focal point – the point will be lost.
Point to Ponder: If you find yourself saying “But I like…but I need…”then you know you need to step away and view the home how a buyer would see it – if you are intent on having it a certain way then you may have to be content with living there a whole lot longer than you anticipated.
Take each room back to the basics
Each rooms’ basics can vary depending on the size, but here are some general guidelines to follow…(not including some basic accessorizing and artwork)
- Livingroom: Couch, loveseat, 1-2 accent chairs, 2-3 side tables, coffee table, entertainment unit (only when necessary) and the odd shelving unit/decorative piece depending on the size of the room
- Dining room: Table with 4-8 chairs (remember it’s better to show your room at it’s highest capacity than it’s lowest if space comfortably allows), buffet and hutch AND THAT’S IT!!!
- Bedrooms: Bed/headboard, 2 side tables, low boy dresser, highboy dresser. If you have a large room you may also include a bench at the end of the bed and accent chair. Anything else is more than is necessary.
- Bathroom: Towels hanging, soap and 1-2 accessory pieces…and that’s it. Nobody wants to see your dressing gown, toothbrushes, hairbrushes or extra toilet paper rolls.
Home Staging Rule #3 Clarify Use
It needs to be obvious what each room is used for based on the original intentions of the home. Yes, this may upset your daily function but you want to sell your home right? Short-term discomfort for long-term gain – suck it up sweetcheeks!
Because the living room is one of the key rooms, it is vital that it is staged perfectly. In a small space, it is okay to have an ‘office zone’ in your living room – as long as it is subtle.
So, if your living room is currently your playroom, your dining room is your office or your spare room is a storage space then you need to do some major reorganizing.
Dining rooms are often multi-use spaces. Like I mentioned in the ‘declutter’ category, it is essential to take this room back to the basics meaning it needs at bare minimum a table and chairs. Once again, you can certainly have an ‘office zone’ within your dining room – as long as it’s not the feature.
Spare rooms. There are a few things to consider when staging spare rooms:
If you have 1 spare room – it needs to be staged properly as a bedroom/office
If you have 2 spare rooms – 1 of them has to be staged properly as a bedroom or office
If you have 3 or more spare rooms – at least 2 of them need to be staged properly.
Sometimes time/energy doesn’t allow you to clear every space in your home, but as long as the important ones are ready then you are good to go.
Home Staging Rule #4 DE-Personalize
There’s always a fine line when it comes to de-personalizing your space. Your home should not be a shrine to you and your family, nor should it be void of feeling and personality. Buyers need to feel like they can live in your space; rather than feeling like they are invading it.
While the gallery-style arrangement is beautiful, the photos are just too personal
- Livingroom: No more than 3 family photos or 1 small display
- Kitchen: No family photos
- Dining room: No more than 1 family photo or 1 small display
- Bedroom: No family photos
- Kids rooms: No more than 2 photos or one photo display
- Hallways: No more than 1 display/photo per hall/stairwell
De-personalizing also includes removing any items that are quite ‘specific’ to you and your family. This includes toothbrushes, non-decorative towels, bathrobes and slippers, monogrammed items and personal items such as medications.
So well put Kylie. LOVE it! I think we’ll make this “Highly Recommended Reading” for clients in the future.
Coast Realty Group Downtown
Definitely some fabulous information here Kylie! You are dead on with all your points. We have bought and sold 5 houses over the last 15 years and we have never had any trouble selling our home (because I have always been meticulous/anal about cleanliness during the selling period, and removing items that aren’t necessary) – (however none of them were sold while we had kids, which could be a whole other story – but still extremely important). As for buying a house there is no greater turn off to me than a dirty/cluttered house – no matter how great the layout is. My thought is: ‘If they can’t even bother to clean up the house for perspective buyers then how well is the entire house being maintained as a whole!?’.
Kylie, this information couldn’t come at a better time!! We’re moving. I’m going to link up your post to my moving page if you don’t mind. This is AWESOME information and I’m going to use it. Thanks! -Tabitha
I loved how well you explained all the points Kylie. I have been reading about home staging for a while now i gotta say this is so far the best most well explained post i have read.
Wow, well thank you very much! I have a home staging e-book and you know, I’m going to send you a copy to check out! I should be able to do that tomorrow, so watch for it in your inbox :).
Less is always more with home staging. Even the cleanest, most organized homes can benefit from some further editing to make them more appealing to home buyers.
Isn’t this SO TRUE!
Finally found the article that I need! It’s more concise and easy to understand so I’m able to put most of these into my staging plans. I’m grateful to you for sharing these staging rules and tips!
Well thank you, I’m so glad! Do you know that I have a Home Staging e-book? It’s got some GREAT stuff in it too! Happy holidays 🙂