Unless you've had your head buried in the sand for the past several months, you know how difficult it has become to sell a home in the current real estate market. There are not enough qualified home buyers out there, and this has made it tough for those who find themselves in a situation where they must sell their home quickly. Most real estate professionals will tell you the quickest and easiest way to attract buyers is to stage the home for sale.
Home staging has become the new buzz word in the real estate world. In the past, there was a relatively small group of professional home stagers who were hired by real estate agents, home sellers and home builders to paint, decorate and accessorize homes that were on the market for a quick sell. With the increasing popularity of shows that share home staging tips and ideas on television channels such as HGTV, home staging has become a project that most sellers can take on themselves.
But what if there is no room in your budget for a professional makeover like those seen on t.v.? Not to worry! There are many free and low-cost staging ideas that any home seller can put to good use.
Chances are, if you are in a situation where you need to sell your home quickly, there may be financial reasons for needing to make that sale. When you are faced with a financial crisis, the last thing you want is to come up with the cash to buy or rent new furniture, purchase new accessories and paint supplies.
Cheap Staging Techniques to the Rescue
Here's the good news. Some of the easiest home staging ideas can be done on the cheap, or entirely free of cost. Simple things, such as removing furniture and rearranging the remaining pieces, can make a huge difference in a buyer's perception of your space. You will be moving soon anyway, so why not rent a small storage unit now to store those extra items? If you can't afford a storage unit, ask family and friends to store the items for you until you are ready to move.
While you may have a large family and need two large sofas in your living room, perhaps most of your buyer traffic are young couples just starting out. Those two huge sofas just make the living room look small and cluttered to them. Also, most buyers desire a fireplace. So if you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home, arrange the furniture to make it the focal point of the room. Remove that big screen t.v. and all the family photos, and make sure the mantle and end tables are clutter-free. A few candles and a nice piece of art will do the trick.
There is no need to purchase accessories. If you can, repurpose those items that are being used in other rooms as part of your overall "decluttering" process. Clear out any furniture such as tables, hutches, chairs and such that are impeding the flow of traffic and making the rooms look and feel smaller.
The Importance of Kitchens and Baths
As you may know, kitchens and baths are usually the first two things buyers want to see when viewing a home that is on the market. These two rooms can be the easiest to stage for free, or for very little cost. A good scrubbing of the floors, counters, walls, sinks/tubs and cabinets will go a long way.
In the kitchen, you will want to remove all the items from the counters to show off all that space you have. In the bathroom, clear the counters of your personal items and tidy up the shelves in the shower and/or ledges around the tub. If the bathroom is decorated for use by your children, you may want remove those wall or tub decals and stow away the bath toys. It would also be a good time to purchase a fresh shower curtain, rugs or towels if it is in your budget. Once again, these are all low-cost or free home staging techniques.
Let Bedrooms Serve Their Purpose
If your home is being listed as a 4-bedroom house, show it as one. If you are using one of the bedrooms as an office, craft room or junk room, clear it out and set it up as a guest room. If you don't have an extra mattress set to spare, talk to neighbors, friends and family to see if you can borrow one while your home is on the market.
All the remaining bedrooms should be cleared of personal items and clutter, and closets should be neat and tidy. This is a good time to clear out any unused items and clothing for donation to your local charity. Cluttered, over-stuffed closets send a message to buyers that there is not enough storage in the home. These are all free and low-cost staging ideas you can implement on your own.
The Outside of the Home
Don't forget the outside of your home when you are preparing it for the market. If the doors, windows and siding are dirty, give them a good scrubbing. Clean up any weeds in flower beds, and trim any overgrown shrubs and trees. Remove any toys and random furniture or items from the front and back yards. Make sure the patios and walkways are clean and swept up.
If your outdoor furniture is dirty, clean it up! If it is old and tired, remove it or give it away. If you can afford it, make sure any plant beds are freshly mulched and their borders are clearly defined, and plant some colorful annuals to brighten them up. A neat, tidy yard makes a good first impression — and you only get one chance at a good first impression. And in keeping with the theme of this article, these are all low-cost improvements that could bring big rewards.
Paint and Fixtures = Cheap Staging
If you have a little money to contribute to your staging pot, a fresh coat of neutral paint in all the rooms that need it will go a long way. White walls are too stark and cold, while bright, strong paint colors can be too taste-specific. A nice warm color in the tan/beige/taupe family appeals to most. A fresh coat of paint represents one less thing a buyer will need to do if they purchase your home.
Another low-cost staging idea is to replace any old, outdated light fixtures. Newer, contemporary designs in brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze appeal to almost all buyers and only take but a few minutes to swap out. The same can be said for the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, and hardware such as pulls and knobs on the cabinets.
Another easy, fairly inexpensive fix is to replace any old, outdated window treatments. Faux wood blinds can be purchased inexpensively at any home improvement store and can be cut to fit any window. This fix can make any room look fresh and current. You can also shop for deals on fresh, neutral bed linens and drapes for the bedrooms, if it's in your staging budget.
Where to Begin
You are probably wondering by now where to begin with these low-cost and free staging ideas. Start by determining your home staging budget. If the answer is zero, then make a list of your rooms that need cleaning and decluttering in order of priority, and then get started. If you find you have a small budget, examine the rooms on that list and determine what needs to be replaced or updated in each room, and add those items to your list. Shop around for the best deals and calculate which items you can afford to buy in order of priority. Then get to work!
The most important thing to remember is this all-important concept of home staging. The way your home is furnished and decorated may make perfect sense to you, and it may work well with your lifestyle. But you need to look at the entire space through the eyes of a buyer and make the changes that will help your home appeal to the widest range of tastes. This will help to attract more buyers to showings and increase your chances of making that desperately needed sale.