This article is an edited excerpt from Do Your Own Home Staging by Tina Parker, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. For more information or to order a copy, click here.
If you want to sell your house quickly, you need to look at it as a commodity rather than your home – a product and a lifestyle to be sold in the open market. You have to essentially become a retailer with a product to sell.
A general rule I follow when preparing a home to impress potential buyers is to satisfy as many senses as I can in each room. Use these tips as a guide to create a special experience during viewings, and keep them in mind when walking through your house.
There was a time when it was rare to hear of someone having allergic reactions to typical scents such as perfume, candles, incense and air fresheners, but it has increased to a degree that it is best to avoid having these scents linger in your home during showings and open houses. A scent that will appeal to people with allergies and everyone else in general is the smell of freshness that comes with cleanliness. Just before a showing or open house, wipe all the floors with hot water and a mild cleaning solution.
The smell of cookies or bread baking, or coffee brewing, makes it very obvious that you are working hard to impress. If you feel that it will work for your particular target market, go for it – but for experienced buyers, it will only look like a phony act.
Buyers respond positively when they touch something that is velvety soft and plush. They cannot resist a blanket strewn over the end of a bed or the back of a chair, luscious bed linen and curtain fabrics, or extra plush white towels. Equally memorable (and not in a positive way) is when they touch something sticky or gooey on a banister, door handle or cabinet pull. This is a big turn-off, so make sure that everything they may touch is clean.
If possible, leave a candy bowl or cookie jar available for people to help themselves. Leave a small, discreet card of thanks next to it that says something like, “Thank you for stopping by. Please treat yourself.”
If you are fortunate enough to have stereo speakers wired throughout your house, play soft background music that caters to your target market. If not, play music in the living room or family room on low volume. Currently, soft jazz seems to be the overall favourite genre but other gentle music works well too.
It is very important to consider lighting when preparing a room for staging. It will improve a potential buyer’s ability to determine whether the space is large enough for their needs, so it is important to illuminate all of the walls. If you cannot see a portion of a room due to a lack of lighting (such as a dark corner), a room may appear or feel smaller than it really is.
Use as much natural light as possible. This may require cutting back the overgrown bushes or pruning a tree around the exterior of the house. If appropriate, remove drapes to open the space and allow more sunlight into the room. If the drapes are in style, of good quality, and positioned so they do not interfere with the window, leave them up but keep them wide open.
Add extra lamps everywhere they look natural. Position a lamp on a table or place a floor lamp next to a chair. Every lamp needs to be anchored by a piece of furniture or it will look awkward and unnatural.
Colour is a fabulous, versatile tool when preparing a house for sale. It can depersonalize, create a mood, add warmth, attract or distract attention, encourage the direction of the tour, and increase memory. All of this can be done with little money and time. For more on the use of colour on walls, see Home Staging Tips #3: Paint it Right.
The use of vibrant colours can attract attention to a particular highlight of a room, such as a fireplace, custom window or architectural detail. Place a large piece of art above the fireplace that consists of reds, oranges and/or yellows, and it becomes the focal point. Vibrant colour can also be used to distract the eye away from a less desirable aspect of the room, such as an outdated fireplace, by creating a focal point in another area of the room – such as above the couch. Stage the room to display a desirable lifestyle and you’ve just minimized the importance of the fireplace to acquire a certain design or feel in the room.
Whatever vibrant colour you choose to use as your attention-getter, do not use it for any other purpose. Reserve that colour only for attracting (or distracting) attention. The other colours used in a room should be the chosen primary, secondary, and tertiary colours. Repeat a colour in a room at least three times so it does not look like an accident.
Using colour to highlight a special feature in your home will also increase the chances that potential buyers will remember your house over someone else’s. The house will be remembered through reference to the attention getter, for example, “We loved the house with the bold painting above the fireplace. Remember? The room was so inviting and warm.”
I firmly believe that hardware is jewelry for the home; for example, cabinet hardware, sink faucets, lighting fixtures and bathroom accessories. Consider what jewelry or accessories can do for a plain black suit. If you want to make a large impact on a room, change or update the room’s “jewelry” and it will shine. Try to keep all your choices similar in metal type; for example, if you choose chrome in the kitchen, use chrome throughout the house with perhaps just one exception.
A popular trend in the bathroom is still the “spa” look and feel. This can be accomplished with chrome, white and glass. Use white for fabrics, such as towels. You could install chrome plumbing fixtures and towel bars, glass cabinet doorknobs and a glass shower enclosure.