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8 Simple Things You Can Do to Stage Your House for Sale

This article originally appeared in the Rye Record on January 16, 2020. appeared in the Rye Record on January 16, 2020.

As homeowners, we all seem to have a long list of things we’d like to do to our homes. As sellers, however, many of us aren’t enthusiastic about investing money into a space that will soon no longer be ours. We may feel emotionally overwhelmed and find it difficult to physically change the setting of our cherished memories. And even if we’re okay with sprucing up a bit, we may not know where to begin, how much to spend, or how best to allocate a budget.

Not to fear, preparing your home to sell doesn’t have to be a huge headache. In fact, with the right advice, it can actually be fun! Together with local staging expert, Lotte Meister, we’re here to guide you through the process with these eight tips to get your home ready to stand out from the crowd and make the buyers swoon.

  1. Remember, staging is not the same as decorating. In some ways, it’s more like undecorating, especially if your décor is more than a decade old.
  1. Start by removing dated elements, like heavy draperies, dated colors (think reds, greens and yellows), oriental rugs (even very pricey ones), and brown wood (it’s okay to paint).
  1. Next, focus on curb appeal. Pay special attention to the front entrance. Fix the walkway, get rid of cobwebs, clean light fixtures, and have a nice doormat and proper mailbox. You should also trim or replace overgrown foundation plantings.
  1. Think about merchandising your home to highlight its best features and deemphasize its flaws. You want buyers to feel an emotional connection to the space. If you have a pretty view, make sure it’s not obstructed. If you have a front porch, make sure you have inviting furniture to sit on. A walk-in closet should be styled like a nice boutique. If the house is dark, bring in more lights. If a room is small, don’t crowd it with furniture.
  1.  When selling an occupied home, you’re often competing with new construction. A lived-in looking home may not be as appealing. This means clearing your kitchen counters of everything except a few select accessories, removing toiletries from bathrooms, and packing away photos and memorabilia. Get rid of the dog bowl and litter box, too.
  1. Your house should be spotless. Avoid scented candles — they give the impression that you’re covering something up. Stained carpets should be replaced. Windows should be sparkling.
  1. Take care of all repairs before listing. Fix broken tiles, ripped screens, and chipped paint. Today’s buyers will impute the cost to fix these items much higher than the actual cost of repair.
  1. Each room should have a clear purpose — no drum sets in the living room, nor desks in the dining room, nor Pelotons in the bedroom.

Getting your home ready for sale in today’s market can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time and have a lot of stuff. A professional stager can be invaluable in breaking the project down into manageable steps and taking care of the styling and decorative elements that might not come easily to you.

It may not feel convenient to undertake a staging project or live in a staged home, but it is far less convenient to have your house sitting on the market for a long time or not selling for the best price.

<Nicole Ball and Amie Pisano are real estate agents with Houlihan Lawrence in Rye. For more staging ideas, check out @lottemeister on Instagram.

  • Before and after photos by Lotte Meister

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