Before we put our house on the market to sell, we had to do some serious cleaning and organizing to stage it. It’s a long hard process, but a must if we want to have a chance at selling quicker and getting close to our asking price. We’ve learned a lot when it comes to staging, so we want to share a few tips to make it easier if you ever plan to sell. To start, we rented a storage unit to store all of the things that currently clutter up the house, but we will still need in our new home. We chose a climate controlled unit. It’s really cold here and we want our things to stay safe. Do some research in your area on the best rates. Once you have a unit, start packing.
We decided that for our needs, plastic storage bins were better than the traditional cardboard boxes. Although, each bin is about $6 on average (vs $4 for cardboard at the storage facility – or free if you can find them), they will last longer and keep our valuables dry and safe. Plus, they’re super easy to stack and move.
As we packed, we weeded through a few things to donate, which lightened the load a bit. Since we were in such a time crunch, we couldn’t spend too much time doing this, however. But, if you have the time, it’s worth it. We’ll end up finishing when we move and unpack.
Thankfully we didn’t have to do all of these things in our home, but we wanted to share several different things that may or may not apply to you. Who knows, a few things below might spark other ideas that relate to your home. Okay, here we go…
• Keep it open and clean. Remember, this is the first impression that potential buyers have, so make it shine. We had a little bench beneath our coat rack at the front door and moved it to storage, because it took up a bit of room. We instead placed a rug there for shoes as potential buyers enter. Then we thinned down the amount of coats on our coat rack to keep it simple.
Dust + Vacuum + Mop
• Potential buyers see things that you may not, because you see it everyday, you may overlook it. Dust EVERYWHERE: in corners, under things, light fixtures, ceiling fans, walls, ceilings, vents, electronics, end tables, shelves, door frames, etc. Keep it dusted at all times, because your Realtor can call for a showing at anytime. Surprise!
• Vacuum the rugs, corners, couches, under the couches (you don’t want any dust bunnies to come running out), drapes, ceiling corners, etc.
• Keep all wood floors and tile mopped and smudge-free. Don’t forget to wipe down those base-boards.
• Wash all glass windows and doors, both inside and out. Smudgy windows look pretty bad and unkept. If you have dogs with wet noses and glass doors, this will be a constant battle until you sell.
• Wipe any fingerprints from the light switches and outlets, too.
• Vacuum where the furnace and water heater are, as well. Dust bunnies tend to live there.
• Remove all family photos. The less personal items, the better. You want potential buyers to see themselves in that space.
• If you have pets, lint roll the furniture and remove the pet beds (unless they’re neatly tucked away), scratching posts and toys. People are fine to know that you have pets living there, but they don’t need to be reminded everywhere they look. Likewise, keep the backyard picked up and the cat box clean. The pet dishes are fine to be out, but be sure that they are clean and out-of-the-way. You don’t want people tripping. Also, if you have caged or tank animals, keep those clean (as they should be already, right?)
• Hide all of your valuables: jewelry, important documents and mail, guns, medications, and other personal items. This is for your safety.
Closets + Cabinets + Pantries
• Potential buyers open closets, cabinets and pantries to see storage possibilities. So, thin them out and only keep the items in there that you need during the time being. Put the rest in storage. Fold sheets and towels neatly and organize your food in the pantry (it does make a difference). And organize those dishes, too.
• The less you have tucked away, the more spacious it seems. Make it feel open and clean. Allow potential buyers to envision themselves living there.
• Thin out your clothes closets. Place all out-of-season clothing in storage to maintain the open feel. And don’t forget about the top shelves! Put all shoe boxes and extras in storage as well. Less is more.
• Some potential buyers may even look in your refrigerator (strange, but true), so make sure that’s organized and clean as well.
Counter Tops + Shelves
• Clear off those counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms. Also make sure your shelves are clutter-free. Less is more.
• You know that catch-all bowl that you have on the counter? Move it. It looks messy.
• Keep the doggie land-mines picked up! No one wants to see that. Again, potential buyers don’t mind you having pets, but don’t let them see the dirty side of things.
• Whether it’s Winter or Summer, keep the yard tidy. Clear out dead grass and leaves that tend to gather in corners and under bushes. And trim back those tree and bush branches.
• Repair any loose fence posts and nail anything down that needs to be.
• Make any deck repairs that are necessary. Fix any loose rails, steps, and boards. And paint or re-stain it if necessary.
• If it’s Spring or Summer and your blooms haven’t peeked out yet, add a few planters with some Annual flowers, or put them right in the ground. This will add a touch of color and life to your yard or deck.
Smells + Odors
• Keep your home smelling fresh, but don’t overdo it with air fresheners and candles (I don’t recommend leaving candles lit for showings). Pinterest has a few good natural air freshener techniques to try.
• Let’s face it, you’re still living there between showings and you have to cook. Just try to stay away from stinky foods that may linger. You never know when the next showing will be and you don’t have time to air out the house.
• Vacuum up all of those dust bunnies behind and around the washer and dryer and mop the floor.
• Be sure to organize the shelves and cabinets. Pack unused bedding, towels and laundry items in storage to keep it open and clutter-free.
• We keep our cat box in the laundry room, so we just make sure that any little litter pieces stay swept up.
• If you can help it, try not to have the washer or dryer running when a showing is scheduled. It makes the potential buyer feel like they’re intruding on your life. It’s personal.
• And if you’re like me and air-dry a lot of clothing, be sure to put them away before each showing. Again, it’s very personal and you don’t want them seeing your lacy bras now do ya?
• Keep the laundry piles low, too. It looks messy otherwise.
Garage + Crawlspace + Basement
• Chances are that you use one or more of these spaces to store some extras. Am I right? If so, clear them out. Not completely, but as much as possible. We put mostly everything into storage, except for the tool cabinet, camping gear, lawnmower and a few other small items. Don’t distract potential buyers with your stuff.
• You want potential buyers to see all of the storage possibilities that your home has to offer.
• You also want them to see that they can fit two cars in the garage.
• Safety first, then functionality.
• Are there any repairs, both inside and out, that need to be made? What about any loose towel racks or a broken deck steps? How about any little holes in the walls or leaky pipes?
• Make sure your carpets are clean and spot-free (or as close to it as possible).
• Touch up any spots on the walls with some paint, that may need it and fix any loose railings in your stairways.
• Do you have any clogged drains, save yourself some trouble and fix them now. The Inspector will find these. (When we bought the house, we asked the previous owners to unclog the sinks before we bought it).
Other Things To Consider
• Move anything that might get broken during a showing. Think waist level or kiddo level. Women’s purses can knock a lot of things down as they turn and walk through your home. If kiddos can grab it, move it. Or if it’s something that someone can trip over, move it.
• We asked our Realtor to request that potential buyers remove their shows at the entryway (hence the rug at the from door). We are approaching rainy season and even if they are interested in buying your home, it’s still not theirs, so they may not care if they track in mud and dirt.
• Let your Realtor know about everything that made you fall in love with your home in the first place. They can share this with potential buyers. For us, it’s the huge master bedroom, complete with a reading nook. We also have a huge open landing/loft upstairs between all of the bedrooms, which makes it feel so open. The thing that I will miss the most is that our backyard opens up to a Greenbelt and you can watch the Fourth of July Fireworks from the yard! It’s so nice not to have to drive to a venue and fight parking on that special day. Our family and friends benefit from it as well.
After you’ve done all of these things, you might just want to stay! We love our home so much, but we’ve completely outgrown it. It’s time to allow another family to enjoy this lovely space. I hope that the tips are helpful to you when you plan to stage your home to sell. If you have any other tips, please share in the comments below. Good luck!