Anyone who has ever watched the myriad of home buying and renovation shows that make up HGTV knows just how unappealing dated décor and cluttering tchotchkes can be in a home. A person might be able to look past shag carpeting and *gasp* the dreaded paint color (seriously though, why do people have such a hard time looking past paint color?), but the main goal of an open house or a showing is allowing the potential buyer to put themselves in your shoes and see themselves living in your home. If your living room is bursting with ceramic angels, or your kitchen is a knick-knack paradise, it will be harder for a buyer to be able to see themselves settling down for movie night or having friends over for dinner.
This isn’t to say that your personal style is bad, but it is personal. My house is overflowing with books to the point that any sane person would say “Whoops, I didn’t realize I stumbled into a library” and hightail it out of there. The point of staging is to make your home look as clean and impersonal as possible, allowing the potential buyer to see themselves building a life there.
According to a 2017 Profile of Home Staging done by the National Association of Realtors:
- 77% of buyers’ agents said that staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home
- 39% of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market
- 49% of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyer’s view of the home, while only 4% of respondents said that the home staging had no effect
- 27% of buyers will overlook other property faults if the home is staged
- About 1/3 of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1 and 5 percent compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged
The same study showed that the most important room to stage was the living room (according to 83% of buyers’ agents), with the master bedroom (55%) and the kitchen (41%) following closely behind. This makes a lot of sense, as the things most buyers are thinking of when looking at a new house is where they will spend most of their time. Guests coming over? A spacious and tidy living room waits to welcome them. A long, hard day at the office? A cozy, welcoming bed to rest in. And, as anyone who has ever cooked a dinner can attest, the kitchen is the place where homeowners and their guests tend to congregate in. Cleaning up the clutter, rearranging the furniture, and stowing away your (albeit impressive) coffee mug collection can make the difference between an offer to buy and another day of sitting on the market.
If you are living in the home that you’re trying to sell, removing your personality from your surroundings will obviously be a much tougher task than if you are staying elsewhere. Have no fear, however, for there are still things you can do!
- Hide it away: Here are some attractive options from Ikea for storage in plain sight. That being said, plain plastic bins that you can tuck in the basement or garage will get the job done as well!
- Under Cover: As a new convert to slipcovers, I only have good things to say about them. If you’re like me and have a plaid couch with evidence of cats (so many pulls in the fabric), throwing a slip cover on to make it look clean and tidy, not to mention neutralizing my personal (and, ok, maybe slightly loud) style.
- Tidy Kitchen: This one might be tougher for those who have family members, but a clean kitchen is a definite perk. Try and make sure there are no handprints on the fridge, no clutter on the counter, and no stains on the tablecloth. It’s so easy to not see the clutter in your kitchen when you live in it, so it’s important to look at it with fresh eyes. You know that panicky feeling when your in-laws are coming over to visit and you realize that you are not prepared? Kind of like that.
- Make the bathroom not a bad room: don’t underestimate the appeal of a clean, fresh-smelling bathroom. Get those grooming products put away, scrub the soap scum off the sink, and feel free to Febreze. Everyone knows what a used bathroom looks like; let’s show them how nice it can be.
- Extra Credit: Put a bowl of fruit on the counter in the kitchen. Fold up some clean towels in the bathroom. Get some fresh flowers in a vase in the living room. True, we are fighting back clutter, but a nice, bright home is welcoming to all.
Now, I make no promise that doing these things (and whatever else you can thing of to make your house welcoming) will absolutely, definitely, 100% get your home sold as soon as you put it on the market! Studies have shown, however, that having your home reasonably priced (trust your realtor on this one, I promise they know what they’re doing) and staged will help to get it sold quickly.