Most of us spend a fair amount of time in our home. It’s a place we work hard for, want to be proud of, and find serenity in. Of course, this idea can be a fantasy if you have lively children, a partner, and pets. Before I had kids, I swore up and down that my house would always look catalog perfect. I was in for a surprise when kids finally came into the picture. I maintained the appearance of a well-kept home with one child, but after a set of rambunctious little boys and adopted furkids, it felt like a second full-time job. Although my house is not “perfect,” I have picked up some tips along the way as a REALTOR, designer, and somewhat OCD mother that I would love to share with you.
When people hire me to list their house, I remind clients they hired me for my professional opinion, and not everything I suggest will be what they want to hear. You can take all my suggestions or leave them all at the door, but if you want to net the most money, then you will want to consider the following;
1. Maintenance and Cleanliness
It doesn’t matter how great you staged your home if the HVAC is out or your gutters are hanging on with duct-tape. General maintenance goes a long way and reassures buyers that the house has been taken care of during your ownership. You can hire a handyman for the “honey-do” items that have been on your list for a while. Trust me, you will feel better once that leaky faucet isn’t a constant reminder of something else to do.
If you plan to list, hire a professional to deep clean your house before starting showings. They are professionals and have trade secrets like how to get shower doors free of water spots. They will wipe down baseboards and leave your floors shiny. If you have carpet or tile, you may need to hire a company to steam clean the carpets and grout.
Hide anything that reminds people of cleaning. No one wants to see your impressive collection of cleaning products. It will remind them of the maintenance required to upkeep a home. Be sure to empty trash bins, clean the dishes, wipe surfaces, and replace stained towels. Clean, white towels look great in bathrooms. Hide personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and products in the shower. I use a shower caddy like back in my college days. I can tuck them out of sight in a cabinet or closet if I need to.
Declutter by organizing. Bins and labels go a long way. My containers are labeled. In my garage (holidays, electronics, home improvement, auto, etc. ), closet (handbags, scarves, etc.), bathroom (first aid, nail polish, hair accessories, makeup, etc.), office (pens and pencils, markers, post its, cards, sewing, adhesives, batteries, etc.), and in the pantry (crackers, candy, pouches, protein bars, fruit snacks, etc.). An additional tip: whenever I leave a room, I grab something that doesn’t belong and bring it with me to put away. It could be socks that were left downstairs or mail that needs to get to my office. This practice helps keep things tidier, but if you were up all night with the kids and tired, forget everything I just said and take a nap.
2. Curb Appeal
First impressions go a long way. Even though you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, buyers often judge a house by its curb appeal. The first picture online better grab their attention, or they aren’t going to swipe right. Let’s start with landscaping. Cut and edge the yard, trim bushes, any plants and add fresh mulch on flower beds. Pick a mulch color that compliments the exterior of your home. If you have red brick, do not use red mulch. Next, look at your entryway. A new accent color like blue, red, or black on the front door can draw attention. Get a welcoming doormat, add some planters with flowers, or a wreath if it’s the holidays. Pinterest has great ideas. Try searching phrases like “front door décor.”
Believe it or not, but the lighting makes all the difference. Just ask a Kardashian. All jokes aside, there are different ways you can use lighting to make your home look extra awesome. On the exterior, uplights and a porch light make the house look great a night. Replace any missing bulbs and make sure they match. One of my favorite bulbs is Reveal by GE. I thought it was ridiculous when an interior designer told me to switch out the bulbs in my bathroom.However, I did it and wow, it felt like a new space!If you have curtains in your home, open them up and make sure they hang the correct way. If you have blinds, adjust them so the bottoms line up and angle them the same way. I leave mine turned slightly upwards while allowing plenty of light to pass through. Clean screens and windows if needed. Turn on all lights for showings, including lamps and accent lights.
4. Set the Mood
When selling a home, you want to attract the most buyers. You want your potential new homeowners to picture your house as their own. Remove personal photos and quirky memorabilia. Also, keep in mind listing photos will be syndicated to thousands of sites across the world. Fido might be an extension of your family, but not everyone will appreciate a furball as much as you do. Hide pet items and remove pet odor. Fluffy’s litter box shouldn’t be the focal point of any room. I’ve had clients walk right in and out of houses because of a bad smell. Don’t use too many artificial fragrances such as plug-ins because buyers will think you’re trying to cover up an odor and some may have a sensitivity to the scent. Popular scents that appeal to most are vanilla or a fresh, clean scent.
I understand that not everyone has the time, resources, or even desire to make changes to their home, so here are some additional quick and easy tips. Set the scene by draping a comfy throw blanket over a chair, stage the bed, fill empty bowls with fresh fruit, bring in potted plants, fluff pillows, turn on lamps, and play some soothing music. One last tip for any Texan that needs to hear this, please don’t leave your shotgun by the backdoor before a showing.
I hope you have enjoyed this briefing on staging your home. I provide all my clients with a minimum of a one-hour staging consultation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I love helping people make their homes look their best. Just promise me you still want to list after I make your house look amazing!
Stephanie Norman is a member of FWMOM and a Gold sponsor with her and her husband's company The Norman Team, JP & Associates Realtors. She has three children, Annabelle (4) and twin boys, Logan and Alexander (1). For more information on buying or selling your home please reach out to 817-504-6644 or Stephanie@tnttx.com.