How to style your house for sale
Regular readers will have notice that my posts on the blog have been lacking lately. The reason is that we've been super busy selling, buying and getting started on a renovation of our new house. I've also organically started a new home staging and styling business (due to people starting to approach me for help) and have been lucky enough to have lots of fun projects to work on (will be getting photos of those up very soon!). But I now have a bit more free time to come back and share some new ideas with you!
Before looking forward to the projects I've been working on lately I thought I would take a step back and share the marketing photos of my old house and give you my top tips for interior styling and staging your house for sale. Having sold three houses in just over 2 years I'm getting pretty good at this now. Each time we've sold we have done so for large amounts over our auction reserves and I strongly believe that the styling and staging of the house has a big part to play in this. What you ideally want to do is create a home that makes prospective buyers fall in love and become emotionally attached. Buyers want to picture themselves living there. It needs immaculate presentation and there are some key things to keep in mind in trying to create this feeling in your prospective buyers. Today I'm going to share the steps I use to get our houses ready for sale.
1. Emotionally detach
Before you get ready to sell your house the first and most important piece of advice I can give you is to emotionally detach from the property. Despite the fact this has been your home for however long, you need to let go and realise this is going to become someone else's place. With that in mind you need to take a long, objective look at your house and view it the way that prospective buyers are going to view it. From the moment you begin to interview estate agents they will start to tell you things you don't want to hear. You may have higher price expectations or you may not be ready to hear that the style of your house is not suited to the market of buyer you need to attract. If you have detached emotionally you will be better placed to make the changes you need.
2. Clear the clutter
This sounds like a no brainier, but this is by far the easiest thing you can do to improve the look and feel of your house for sale. Pack away toys, clear up bench tops and surfaces and simplify and rearrange bookshelves. Put away as much of your day to day clutter as you can. In most cases I also recommend this includes putting away the bulk of your family photos. Prospective buyers want to picture themselves living in your house and it's best if they can do this without the distraction of seeing you and your family on the mantle piece! Part of this process may involve renting a small storage unit off site and storing some of your unnecessary furniture or boxes of books and personal objects. If that seems too hard then it may also be possible to hire a small mobile storage unit that you can park on the street (or around the corner) and store the furniture and clutter you want to clear out of the house.
3. Repair and touch ups and a good clean!
Unless your house is being marketed as a 'renovators delight', buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in your house and moving their furniture and family straight in. If there are unfinished jobs or things in need of repair this becomes the focus for buyers and makes them question what else might be wrong with the house. Think about whether your house could do with a re-paint, new carpet, or even a steam clean of carpets. Do you have pets that may be making the house smell? Ask your friends and family for advice on this as you're likely to not really see (or smell!) the house in the same way as someone visiting.
4. Set up rooms for their intended use
One big tip for home staging is not to assume that prospective buyers have a good imagination for how spaces work. Even if you have a great interior design flair - if you have a 3rd bedroom set up as an office you'll find that half your prospective buyers will see your house as a two bedroom house and not be able to picture the third bedroom as what it is for.
We had this problem when selling. The room below had always been set up as my office but was also the area that houses the front door. This meant that it was the first room people saw when walking in. Despite the fact the space worked well for what me and my family needed we knew that prospective buyers would have trouble imagining the potential of this room. We went to the expense of buying a second lounge and styling this room as a 2nd living area. It meant that buyers could see the house had two potential areas for relaxing and by including the study in the same room, buyers could also see the room could be used a number of ways, depending on what they wanted. Little touches to make people feel welcome, like fresh flowers or plants make a huge difference as well.
5. Don't forget outside
This is particularly important if you only have a small outdoor space, like you can see we did. You need to stage this as another room and give prospective buyers the idea of how they might use the space. I set up a seating area on our raised grass area. This gave this otherwise odd feature a purpose and people could picture themselves having an evening drink here while the kids play close by. The reality is we have only ever sat up in that space once :) These features also give the marketing photographers something great to photograph. This picture below ended up being the lead photo of our campaign.
While you're outside don't forget to change the inexpensive things that will have big impact. Think about a new doormat, a nice pot plant on the front door step, new door bell. Perhaps your front door could be painted a cheerful colour? None of these things cost much money but have a great impact on the first impression of your potential buyers.
6. Keep and "open house box"
My final tip is about preparing for the dreaded and regular open houses. The way I manage this is to have an "open house box". In this box I keep the following kinds of items:
- fresh, clean, new towels for the bathroom(s) - keep your day to day towels in the bathroom when not showing the house and bring out the fluffy, new ones ONLY on open houses and put them away again straight afterwards.
- A new, full hand soap in all wash areas - I like to use a modern brand like Aesop, Bondi Wash or Planet Luxe. If they are out of your budget just make sure to get a brand new one and only put that out for open houses. While you're there put around a few other styling things in bathrooms - like Aesop shower gel - and take away all your cheap and nasty showering items.
- Clean pillows and, if possible, a doona (duvet) made up with a clean cover (preferable in white or a pale plain colour). Sheets are one of those hard things to keep clean and looking nice during the 4-6 weeks of open houses. Keep fresh pillows and doonas made up in your opens box and you'll be ready to show the house at the drop of a hat!
- A few throws for ends of beds and couch. You may not want to keep these out - especially if you're showing the house in summer - but make sure to dress your bed and couch as it makes a big difference to the look and feel of the room.
I hope you've found these tips and tricks useful. If you are selling your house soon - or thinking about selling in this incredibly hot market - but not quite sure what to do then get in contact. I can provide advice or assistance on getting your house staged and ready for sale. Please drop me a line at email@example.com to take advantage of my free, no obligation, 30 minute phone/skype consultations. I will help you understand how to get top money for your home and the steps you need to put in place - even before you think about engaging an estate agent. I can also offer a full home staging service to clients based in the Sydney area.
Enjoy your day!