Home Staging the ‘Smart’ Way 

5 ways to get your house in shape for selling

Staging your home goes beyond moving a couch and adding an extra coat of paint.

by Sarah CarlosIf you’re like most, you’ve seen the home improvement and flip-your-house shows on TV, and you’ve likely learned a little bit about home staging. But staging your home goes beyond moving a couch and adding an extra coat of paint. And professional Home Stagers are the artists who make your house look warmer, brighter and more appealing so that you can sell your house faster and for more money.

Enter Wendy Waselle, co-creator of Fix’ N 2 Stay or Sell, co-founder of www.get-ready-first-sell-sell-house-smart.com and professional stager with Star Home Staging. She’s one of the pros in the business.

Waselle believes that the state of a home is just as important as its appearance. Her 7 Steps to Sell House Smart plan offers essential, easy steps, including:• having a pre-listing home inspection• fixing the problems in your home• enhancing curbside appeal• DIY (do it yourself) To Do’s• the importance of good photography• pricing tips• using a team approach.

Before a professional home stager comes into your home, Waselle advises homeowners to cover steps 1-4, or the sale of the home will not be as successful.

“Because staging is icing on the cake so to speak, you need the key ingredient – transforming a strong foundation/work surface – before the staging house will ‘sell house smart’,” Waselle says.

The DIY To Do’s are a great place to start. These include a five-step system for homeowners and can be completed with or without a professional stager in the mix.

1. Declutter – Detachment can be difficult: You have lived in your environment for so many years and every piece of furniture holds significance for you. The truth is that a buyer won’t have the same connection with your possessions.

“Buyers are buying a house, not your home – with all of your things in it,” Waselle explains. “And they want to see space, and they want to see features.”

When it comes to closets, tidiness and organization are key.

“Closets need to be 50 percent empty, with nothing on the floor, no empty hangers are allowed, and nothing stacked on shelves,” Waselle says. “Same thing goes for linen closets – clean, organized, only have linen in it and make it look like Macy’s.”

2. Depersonalize – You may be a fan of bright colors and textured painting techniques, but when buyers come in to see a home, they want clean, open space.

“Depersonalizing goes well beyond removing personal items,” Waselle explains. “But you still have to remove almost all personal items from view. Color should be neutral but not a boring shade of beige. Consider paint techniques: faux painting, raised techniques such as Venetian plaster, sand, etc. Furniture will dramatically impact the speed and price for the sale of your house, so look for neutral fabrics. And whether inherited or chosen, wall paper should be removed.”

3. Detail Clean – Deep detail cleaning goes beyond weekly dusting and attacking pet hair. Pet odors can be a big problem and can ruin potential buyers’ first impressions.

“Buyers will forgive flaws, in older homes in particular, if the house is meticulously clean,” she says. “But keep in mind that the correct clean for real estate success requires the absence of odors. If the odor persists, for example from a pet stain, then the odor source must be specifically addressed and eliminated – or the offending odor will return.”

4. Define a Room’s Purpose – “If we have to ask you what the room is, that’s a problem,” Waselle says. “Maybe you need to bring the chandelier back. Or focus on removing the office furniture and the playpen out of the dining room. You can put a table in it or add a buffet – anything to give the room the identity it originally had.”

In the process of defining a room, there are two tricks of the trade that home stagers rely on to further accentuate what a room has to offer: mirrors and lights.

“We recommend strategic placement of mirrors, especially in the foyer, so that the prospective buyers literally see themselves in the house – in a very positive light,” Waselle explains. “And always remember, when selling, you can never have enough ambient light or artificial light. Even on a sunny day, turn on the lights. Buyers respond well to the warmth.”

5. Determine Focal Points – It’s important to accentuate focal points in your home by removing any unnecessary obstructions.

“We had a home where the fireplace, the proper focal point for this room, was hidden by furniture – a TV that dwarfed the mantle,” Waselle recalls. “Furniture was placed in front – literally blocking the hearth. Even the window was hidden behind a very large, although attractive candle screen. And there was a very large ficus tree that completely hid the fireplace from the kitchen view.”

Waselle and her team took the furniture down by 50 percent – restoring the fireplace and window as focal points of the room. Waselle says that by following the five DIY To Do’s and the rest of her 7 Steps, the homeowners received several offers and were able to sell their home for several thousand dollars over the listing price.

There are all sorts of clever ways to position a home before putting it on the market. Don’t limit yourself by thinking you don’t have the time or expertise. Remember, there are plenty of resources out there, like professional home stagers, who can help maximize the value of your home.

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