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Staging a Home for Sale

(A continuation of How to Sell a House)

By - 2006

For this final page about preparations we will look at staging a home for sale and some other things you you can do. To "stage" a home means to set it up with furniture and wall hangings and such so it looks like a home. This is done primarily with houses that are unoccupied when they are for sale. So if you plan to move before you sell your house, consider staging.

In larger cities there are companies which will do this for you, but the cost may not justify the results. Ask your real estate agent for a recommendation if you do want to hire help, and then carefully consider the cost. You have to assume that the service provided will raise the sale's price by more than what you'll be charged.

If you decide to try staging a home yourself, think in terms of first impressions and primary living areas. A small kitchen will look roughly the same with or without a table, for example, but the appearance of an empty living room can be greatly improved with a couch, chair, lamp and some paintings on the walls. Walk into your home as though you are seeing it for the first time, and notice where your eyes go first. Make those areas look like a home you would want.

There are a couple ways to do this on a budget. One is to leave behind key pieces of furniture you own, as well as flowers in vases and other items you can do without until after the sale. You might also be able to rent a few key pieces from a staging company without paying for the complete service. Finally, you can probably buy some decent paintings, lamps, and other items from a used furniture store for less than the cost of renting them, an then sell them afterward.

You might be surprised by how much a few simple things can change the feeling of a house. When we moved from one small home years ago, we threw an old futon mattress on top of six plastic tubs and then hid the whole thing under a nice comforter that hung to the floor, making it look like a bed. That and a table with a lamp made for a big improvement over the otherwise empty room.

Other Preparations

A buyer's first impression of the neighborhood matters. so clean the neighborhood if necessary. If a neighbor's yard is a mess, give their kids $10 to pick up the yard the day you list your home for sale. If the junk is all out in front of the houses for spring clean up, you may want to wait until it is picked up before you list your home for sale.

If there is a common area close to your home, like the circle of grass at the end of a cul-de-sac, spend $20 to plant flowers there. Making improvements to a common area and to your own front yard will often inspire your neighbors to do the same. This makes it especially worth the effort.

Have your family prepared for the sale. Let the kids know that they may have to keep their rooms neater than normal for a while. Have them put toys and bicycles away instead of in the yard. Have one of you regularly water the lawn and plants.

Finally, if you have many small things of value, put them away. Criminals have been known to pose as home buyers, so don't provide too much temptation.

Now, after preparing and staging a home for sale, we get to the fun part: marketing...

The book continues here: How to Market Your House - Making a plan and implementing it.


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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Staging a Home for Sale