1. Spruce up house exterior and landscaping.
Lay fresh mulch and plant colorful flowers for quick impact. If your garage door is old, it might be a good investment to install a new one. Garage doors take up a good amount of the house’s exterior, and if it’s got dings and chipping paint, it sends the wrong message to potential buyers.
These before and after photos aren’t entirely fair because the before photo is what our house looked like when we purchased it four years ago. I wanted a more recent photo to show just what we did before listing it, but I apparently haven’t taken any in four years! Over time, we hired someone to replace the roof, we painted the exterior ourselves, and installed new lights. When we got ready to sell, we decided to hire a landscaping company to lay fresh mulch and trim the bushes. We also took our Realtor’s advice and got a new garage door. I wish the door was shut in the before photo, because it wasn’t pretty.
2. Focus on the entrance.
Stand at your front door and examine the area as if you were a buyer. After all, this is where they will stand as they await the real estate agent to arrive. Touching up paint, adding a new welcome mat, and a pot or two of flowers will go a long way.
Again, this before picture was what our front door looked like when we bought the house. Since then, we spent less than $250 to replace the metal window bar with glass, change out the door handle, paint the door, and add a rug and welcome mat.
3. Make minor repairs.
Take the time to fix minor problems around the house. A hole in the screen on the patio, a leaky faucet, exposed wires, can all show up on the home inspection report. Fixing them in advance is inexpensive and shows buyers the house is well-cared for.
If you have kids, you pretty much need to rent a storage unit and fill it to the brim. Take serious action in closets and the garage, as well. Too much stuff can look like your house is small and lacks storage space.
Our kid paraphernalia got the better of this room. We stored all of it, as well as the oversized chair. I added a borrowed coffee table small enough for the space and added minimal decor on top.
If you have a Disney room or an alter built to your alma mater, pack Mickey away and paint over that mascot. The same goes for brightly-colored rooms. Your son’s colbalt blue room or daughter’s florescent pink walls might be off-putting to some buyers. Have you ever watched an episode of “House Hunters” on HGTV? I think every episode features a couple walking through homes, complaining about bright color choices and all the painting they would have to do. Show a more neutral space where potential buyers can picture their things and won’t get sidetracked by the color.
Photo walls or collages can be distracting for buyers. They tend to look at all the photos, instead of focusing on the house. It can also be argued that taking down personal photos can help people visualize their own family in the house.
At the suggestion of our Realtor, I took down my photo wall, patched the holes, and put up something more simple (borrowed from my mom and dad’s house!). I liked my photo wall, but she was right. For selling purposes, this was a much better, less-distracting display.
7. Take down photos and magnets from fridge.
A blank fridge looks clean and uncluttered.
8. Purge furniture.
Take out a few pieces of furniture. Removing a bulky chair, extra bookshelf, or table makes a room appear more spacious.
We like these two floral chairs for extra seating, but taking them out makes the room look bigger.
9. Rearrange to show more space.
In addition to purging some furniture, you can also rearrange to show off the space. Move a table that sticks out a little too far in the entryway or a chair that disrupts a natural walkway in the house. This doesn’t mean pushing all the furniture up against the walls, though. Conversation areas around a table are warm and inviting.
We were able to leave our house while we showed it, so my husband took down the boys’ cribs and I put the twin beds in. The cribs took up a lot of space in the room and closed the entrance off a bit, so taking them down made a big difference. I already had twin beds for when they’re a bit older, and putting them toe to toe across the wall was a great space-saver.
Our chaotic pool patio needed some new arrangements, as well. We took out all the kids’ toys, took down the pool fence, and instead of replacing our stained outdoor rug, we just flipped it over. I went the extra mile and painted our coffee table white to match the chairs. (I wanted to do that for awhile now!) I borrowed two stools from the kitchen to make a bar area. Taking down the pool fence allowed for room our two loungers to reclaim their space in the sun.
Give your house a deep scrub to remove dirt and odors. Don’t forget to shine faucets and wipe down all mirrors. You might also consider getting your carpets cleaned to remove odors and stains from pets and kids.
11. Organize under the kitchen sink.
Make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing under the kitchen sink. Use new shelf liner and organize underneath. This is a popular place for potential buyers to look.
12. Clear off counters.
It’s easy to accumulate a mass of objects on the kitchen counter — toaster, coffee machine, espresso machine, mixer, canisters, cutting board, knives, spices, cooking utensils, etc. Maybe pick three of these things to leave to leave out when your staging your house.
13. Add quick and easy centerpieces.
Apples and lemons both make inexpensive centerpieces that will last weeks. You can also borrow from your yard. Fall branches, spring greenery or summer blooms work nicely.
14. Plug in subtle scent.
Plug in a scented oil warmer 2 to 3 weeks in advance of listing your house. Of course you want your house to smell nice, but some of those plug-ins are super strong. Leaving them plugged in a couple weeks gives them a chance to calm down.
15. Put the toilet seats down.
Put the toilet seats down. It just looks nicer, especially in pictures.
16. Light the way.
Leave your outdoor lights on in the evening for potential buyer drive-bys.