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So you’re thinking about selling your home–congratulations! Now your head is filled with questions about how to increase the value and get the most out of the sale.

Staging your home can help you justify listing it for a larger price. From cleaning and sprucing to full-on repairs, getting your house ready is worth the extra energy. If your home is ready to stage for sale, then check out these top home staging tips before you put it on the market.

Deciding to Sell

Making the final decision to put your house up for sale is nerve-wracking. You may be moving across the country or only across town, but the upheaval is still emotional and physical chaos. You may be buying another house and worried about the timing working out.

The home selling process isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re deciding to sell your house, you’ve come to a place mentally where you’re ready to put some effort into this project. That means you’re ready to get to work.

Getting Your House Ready

Staging a house for sale means you make it look the way your sellers want it to. It could mean you’re performing small cosmetic changes to increase the value of the house, or it could mean you’re repainting everything and doing larger repairs.

It’s a good idea to make a list with your partner of the major projects you think the house needs. Getting an expert’s opinion is also helpful, whether it’s your realtor or a contractor for larger projects (or both). Once you’ve nailed down the list of projects, schedule them out on your calendar to determine a timetable.

If you think the projects will take too long to complete, you’ll have to adjust. One way is to take some time off work to get a lot done at once. Another way is to hire the projects out to professionals who can paint or re-carpet the house while you’re at work.

Painting to Set the Stage for Sale

You probably have a story about a friend who bought a house with an awful paint job. Avant-garde black and white grid patterns with red trim in the guest bathroom may seem like a good idea while you’re living there, but strange paint jobs will deter potential buyers. It’s better to repaint the bold places and go for a neutral tone instead.

Even if the buyers decide to repaint everything when they move in, a house with neutral colors will allow them to see the possibilities. Bolder colors drive away people who otherwise may have liked your house.

Take it one room at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Move all the furniture out so that nothing gets painted accidentally. Lay down drop cloths or cover the floor with painting paper and tape the seams.

Tape the edges with painters tape, and then cut in around the edges. You can use a small paintbrush or an edging tool. If you have a dark paint color, you may need to use primer.

If you’re covering light-colored paint or you’re using a paint that includes primer, you can get right to the new color. Neutrals like whites, grays, beiges, and other light colors are good choices. When you can’t decide, get several paint samples and paint them all on the same wall so you can compare more easily.

Use a paint roller to get a more even coat of paint on the walls. Add a second coat if necessary. Remember to peel off the painter’s tape before the paint dries so that it doesn’t get stuck to the wall.

Decluttering

When you first moved in, there may have been empty alcoves or areas that felt bare. Throughout your time in the house, you’ve filled them, often with random finds. Perhaps you even went shopping as soon as you moved in to buy furniture and finishing touches.

The problem is, your house keeps filling up even after those last empty places are filled. You acquire more things every birthday and Christmas, as well as random shopping trips throughout the year.

Decluttering means walking through the house with fresh eyes, trying to see it from a buyer’s perspective. Look around for areas that look small because of all the stuff. Watch some YouTube videos about organizing and decluttering to help you understand the goal and get inspired.

Then it’s time to go to work. Pack up items that you can live without for a few months and put them in storage. Label them with clear descriptions so you can find them again when you move to a new house.

Do this in every room, then look around. Decide if you need another round of decluttering, or if you’re ready to start removing furniture.

Taking out furniture and other clutter opens up the house and makes it look like there is more room. You’ll be amazed at how different and clean the house looks with less stuff in it, even if you haven’t scrubbed or dusted anything.

You don’t need to get rid of furniture by donating it or selling unless you’re sure you don’t want the large piece for your new home. Instead, take it to storage for a few months until you’re able to bring it to your new residence. It opens up the house and gives a new perspective to potential buyers.

Remove Personal Touches

Your mantle shelf is beautiful, with your large family photo and the farmhouse chic candlesticks on either side. However, pictures of your family have to go before you start showing the house.

While you may think personal touches like that make your room seem homey, in reality it makes potential buyers feel like they’re intruding. They see your last name on a sign or your daughter’s initials on a pillow on her bed and they have a harder time picturing themselves living in the space.

You want the people who tour your house to immediately picture the possibilities. You want them to feel at home and see where their furniture would go and their pictures would hang. Taking out your family photos and personal touches goes a long way to aid them in that journey.

Landscaping

Your yard is the first thing buyers see when they drive up to your house. When people are looking for a house to buy, most of the time they first drive through the neighborhood and look at the outside. They’ve seen it online, but now they want to see it in person.

Even if the inside of your house is immaculate, if the outside looks rundown then they may not even schedule a showing. During the time your house is on the market, you have to keep up with the yard work. Rake the leaves obsessively and clean the driveway off every time it snows.

Manicured lawns give the idea that the entire place is well-kept, and potential buyers will have a great impression before they even step foot inside. You may have to take it farther and do some landscaping, too, if the yard is rundown.

Your landscaping projects should include your front porch. It’s part of making the outside of your home feel clean and fresh. Remember to remove any personal touches and declutter (including some porch furniture if you have too much).

Welcome signs that don’t have your family’s last name are okay, along with wreaths and seasonal decor. Consider getting a brand new welcome mat if yours shows wear. All these steps will contribute to showing off your home in its best light.

Leave During Showings

The last step is to make yourself scarce during showings. This includes the entire family and all your pets. It’s hard to find a place to put the animals for large chunks of time. Yet you want potential buyers to be able to see every portion of your home, so locking pets away isn’t an option.

A barking dog may be fine for some dog lovers, but people who don’t like pets or have bad memories of dogs won’t feel welcome. That alone could be the difference between an offer and someone passing on your home.

The Perfect Residence

No matter the memories or length of time you’ve been in your home, it’s time to stage for sale. You’ll be able to get those memories and furniture out of storage when the time comes for you to move.

In the meantime, follow the tips above to make potential buyers feel more at home while touring your space. Without all your personal touches, they’ll be able to picture themselves living in your home. Cleaner spaces also bring more value to your place.

Explore some of our other posts for more ideas like this!