Staging Your Home To Sell



In the midst of all our heading-to-China-to-bring-home-our-son excitement, we’re also getting a house ready to put on the market. Weary of being long-distance landlords, we’re finally selling our property in Oregon. My colleagues there report that the market has made a nice come-back since our exodus a year and a half ago, and we are hopeful to free up some capital for other projects. We are also boldly praying for a quick sale to avoid covering two mortgages, since we have thoroughly depleted our cash reserves in funding our adoption.

image (8)Know anyone looking for a 4 bed + office, 2400+ sqft one-story home in South Salem??

Though I still (and always will) possess my Oregon real estate license, we’re employing the assistance of a local broker/friend from our former church family to help with the on-the-ground marketing of our property. There are several wonderfully competent agents in our hometown that I continue to regularly work with, but we felt it important to keep it “in the family” with our personal transaction.

As our tenant finishes vacating we’ll be getting the house show-ready, cleaning & staging as best we can in an unfurnished house. Preparing your home for the general public really is crucial, as you only get one first impression and, in my experience, most buyers just can’t see past clutter or outdated, funky design.

Having literally toured thousands of residences in my 11 years in the real-estate biz, I’ve just about seen the full spectrum. One time a home-owner greeted me and my clients at his front door in just a pair of tighty-whities.

Here are just a few of my pet peeves best staging tips for getting your house ready to show to potential buyers:

#1) Let there be LIGHT. I know it’s not green, nor economical, but you really need to go through and turn on every single light in the house before a showing. It’ll cost you all of .30c (I’m totally guessing), so think Nike and “Just Do It”.

Turn open the blinds, pull back the curtains. Let the natural light IN through your windows. It makes a big impact, bright spaces are big spaces.

#2) Here’s a favorite of mine: Close your toilet seat lids. Nobody needs to see inside the bowl. Close ’em!

#3) Make. Your. Beds. Perhaps this seems as obvious to you as it does me, but I assure you that many a well-meaning home-owner misses this important step. No matter how clean a bedroom is, if the bed isn’t made, it looks sloppy. (And likely smells.)

#4) If there’s anything worse than stinky body, wet dog or cigarette smoke smell to greet you upon entering a home, it’s most assuredly a 20 Glade Plug-In chemical salute. There are no short-cuts to a clean home. A clean home is a pleasant-smelling home. If, after cleaning, you still need additional help in the odor department, put a teaspoon of vanilla on a cookie sheet in your hot oven. It’s a subtle and inviting (and non-carcinogenic) aroma. I once had an otherwise immaculate listing with a persistent unidentified offensive odor that was finally discovered to be a dead animal in the crawlspace.

#5) Remove ALL dishes from your kitchen sink. If your Realtor has only given you a 20 minute notice to vacate, then here’s what you do (because PEOPLE, you DON’T say no– you make it work): all dishes, clean or dirty, go in the dishwasher. Just dump them in there. You don’t even need to turn it on. As long as you can close the door, you’re good. It’s like the Anne Frank room for your dishes– toss them in.

#6) Garbages– empty them. All of them. Cute little bathroom garbages? Should be empty. This is Handsome Husband’s sticking point, our house could be a complete disaster but if the garbage cans are empty- he’s happy. Garbage cans should be considered temporary staging areas, not holding tanks.

#7) No dirty laundry ANYWHERE. Gather it all in a basket and take it with you. Pick up your stinky hamper and toss it into your mini-van. In fact, use it to gather all the random toys, paperwork, etc. around the house that you don’t have time to re-home. You can bring it right back after you return home from the showing. Alternatively, employ the same trick as the dishwasher and just toss them into either your washer or dryer– you can sort it all out later.

#8) Speaking of that handy laundry basket you’re taking with you, go ahead and place it at the edge of every bathroom counter and with one swoop of your arm dump everything into it. Never mind how often you use your favored toiletries, your toothbrush, toothpaste, curling iron, hairspray, makeup, blow dryer, etc. should all either be tucked away in a cabinet or in the temporary laundry basket. The only thing you should have on your bathroom counter for a showing is soap and a towel. And maybe ONE decorative knick-knack.

#9) Vacate for showings. Don’t fight your Realtor on this. Don’t. Take your pets, your kids, and your sweet self and LEAVE THE HOUSE. Put a  movie on in the minivan and drive one street over and wait. Get yourself a Frappuccino and celebrate- your house is being shown! This is what you’re paying your Realtor to do, so be accommodating. I have shown houses where the sellers wouldn’t vacate, but I have never sold them. Okay- not true- once I did. But it was awkward. Just leave. Nobody’s going to rifle through your belongings, your Realtor is a trained professional and that handy lockbox affixed to your front doorknob is also a security measure. Every time an agent accesses that key to your home it emails your Realtor telling them exactly who and when. Were anything to turn up missing, we know exactly who to call.

Remember, it only takes one buyer to sell your house… and then you can move into someplace new where you don’t make your bed, keep all the lights off and windows closed, dishes in sink and toiletries on counters. 🙂


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