How to Prepare a Home for Sale or Stage Your House

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The first thing you want to do when staging a house is to clean it and keep it clean. The house should be as clean as you can possibly make it. It should not be dirty in any way shape or form and it should stay that way until it’s sold. No one is going to buy a dirty house or even one that is messy. Hiring a professional cleaning service to come in every week is a very good idea.

The next thing you should do to promote your house is to remove most of the furnishing to a storage. This will make the house look bigger and cleaner and brighter as well as allowing the buyers to picture their own furniture in the house. Leave almost no knick knacks and don’t leave up any picture frames. Hang mirrors in their place instead.

If your furniture is ugly, broken, made mainly of milk crates, or doesn’t match the style of the house you may want to take it all out and rent some instead. The proper furniture can make or break a room. Rent furniture with clean lines and items that are properly sized so the rooms look bigger.

Also remember to take almost everything out of the closets and put that in storage as well. Buyers love closets. Many buyers will look inside every single one they pass. Having a pile of stuff fall out on their feet or having the closet crammed so full they can’t see the back won’t encourage them to want your house.  Closet space is important to buyers.

Walk out in front of your home and pretend you have never seen it before. You just drove up and are trying to decide if this is the house you want. Be honest and ask yourself, if you were a buyer would you want to purchase your house? Ask yourself, why not? Are there tree limbs covering part of the house? Does the lawn look brown and scraggly? Does the place look dull and boring? Write down anything you notice about the house that looks ugly and make yourself a checklist of things you need to fix. Make the house look clean, cute, and welcoming.

If your house needs a paint job, do it. Make sure it is a nice color and nothing flamboyant. White is always a safe choice. It always looks clean and is a neutral, which is what you want. A fresh paint job will make the house look fresh and interesting instead of old and dingy.

Clean up anything around the outside of the house that looks bad and make sure everything obviously broken is fixed. The majority of buyers won’t even go into a house that they don’t like the looks of. Curb appeal is the number one item you need to emphasize when selling a house.

Another important part of curb appeal is landscaping. Hiring a landscaping company to keep the lawn nice looking will really help your chance of getting a sale. Put in some nice flowers and trim any bushes and trees so they look nice. Make sure no bushes are taller than the bottoms of the windows and be sure to have nice edging around the lawn and plants.  Again, curb appeal is incredibly important.

Work on the backyard as well. Pick up any loose toys and get rid of old patio furniture. Make sure the yard is clean and empty of just about everything and if there is a garden shed or garage make sure they are empty as well. That will make them look bigger and cleaner.

If there is a swimming pool, it should be crystal clear and look pristine. If you are fighting an ongoing battle with algae growth or leaves, hire a pool company to solve the problems and keep it looking nice. Also, if it’s warm out you may want to set a couple of nice looking pool floats or a beach ball on the pool’s surface. It will make it look more inviting and friendly. Remove the floats when no one is there though to prevent them getting sun bleached and gross.

Inside your house, check to see if anything needs to be repaired or painted. If you have any walls painted colors other than neutrals, change them to a different color. Even if you love your bedroom’s purple walls, for most buyers this will be a turnoff. White walls make the house look clean, well-lit, and open.

Also, make sure the house is well-lit. Open curtains and add lamps where needed to make the house seem fairly bright and not dingy. Make sure there are lights in the closets as well. You may need to install a couple, but battery-operated pull-string closet lights are easy to put in.

While you’re at it, make sure there are no burnt out bulbs in any of the fixtures, the ceiling light covers are clean and don’t have any bugs in them, and all the lamps have bulbs with a high lumen count. This includes the garage, closets, and especially the basement.

Pets in the house while you’re trying to sell it can be a problem. Obviously no one in their right mind is going to get rid of their animals just to try and sell their home, but you should keep your pets out of the way and not let any animal smells accumulate. Dogs should be kept quiet and in a kennel or the fenced backyard, or even have your kids take him for a walk. Your pets might be cute, but if Rover starts humping the potential buyer’s leg or Miss Cleo rubs against the allergic visitor and sets off a sneezing fit, you might just hurt your chances of selling them your house.

Set out a few vases of fresh flowers and keep them looking fresh. Trim the bottoms everyday and change their water; toss out any that are drooping. There is a reason expensive hotels spend a lot of money to have fresh bouquets around. Flowers make a house look friendly and nice. Ask the florist for their recommendations on flowers that most people aren’t allergic to. Certain flowers have a higher pollen count than others and so should be avoided.

Next, make sure the house smells welcoming. Smells go directly to our brains’ emotion center and so odors that are like grandma’s house are especially good. Buy a bunch of packages of frozen cookie dough or make it yourself to throw into the oven when you know a buyer is going to come look at your house. You will want to make some fresh coffee to serve as well. The smell of a clean house and chocolate chip cookies will make most buyers think of home and will encourage them to view your home as a warm, comforting place.

Finally, the most important part of staging a home for sale is to make sure it looks like a place where people would want to live. Anything you don’t like about the house should be made to not be noticeable or fixed and the house should seem open and bright and friendly. When showing the house, greet people at the door with a welcoming smile and wearing nice looking clothes. Don’t leave anything lying around you don’t want people to see. This includes in nightstand drawers and bathroom cabinets. People will likely open anything there is to open in the entire house and peak and snoop around inside. Be prepared for it and keep everything you don’t want them to see in storage.

Selling a house can seem difficult, but there’s no reason staging your home for sale should be, and a well-staged home is a home that will appeal to buyers.


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