When you put your house up for sale, you want it to sell fast, right? The key to making a quick sale could come down to something called ‘home staging’.
If your house has been on the market for a prolonged period of time, you could hire a home staging professional to prepare your home for its next viewing, but if you apply a little common sense and detach yourself from your property, there’s no reason why you can’t take some of the ideas of home staging and apply them to your home.
Before we get to the suggestions, let’s define the meaning of home staging in this context.
What is home staging?
Home staging is all about preparing your home for the buyer and showing it off in the best possible way. You want potential buyers to imagine themselves in your property preparing dinner for the family or relaxing on the sofa with a glass of red before a night of binge-watching the latest Netflix blockbuster.
To do this, you should hide possessions that reflect your personality and interests and make your home more neutral. Preparing for each viewing can take some time if you have a ‘busy’ house with lots of stuff. So you might want to consider putting some of your possessions into storage until you complete the sale.
Viewing your home is an important part of the sales process. Often people make their mind up after viewing a property and if they’re interested it is normally quite obvious. People may come back for a second or even third viewing if they are very interested, so preparing your property properly for a viewing is incredibly important.
Take a look at our five top tips for making sure your property is in tip-top shape for a property viewing.
1) Create a lasting and memorable first impression
The potential buyer’s first impression of your house is so important.
As they’re approaching your house and walking towards your front door they’re already forming an opinion of you, your home and whether they’d like to live in your property.
First impressions stick in the mind, so it’s important you get it right.
If you have a front garden or driveway, make sure to clear any weeds or big bags of rubbish in order to make it look presentable. Large objects that have been sitting in the front garden for ‘a while’ also need to go as they never leave a good first impression. The same concept counts for skips and offensive ornaments (gnomes aren’t for everyone).
While the ornaments may be comical or endearing, you must remember that strangers about to enter your home, and they could be put off. It is all about being professional and creating a neutral experience so your buyer can place themselves in your home.
Stand outside and look at your house with a buyer’s eye. What can you do to make it look more presentable? More appealing?
- Are the windows clean? Are any of the windows cracked or broken?
- Do your blinds or curtains look good?
- Would the front door and window frames look much better with a new coat of paint?
- What kind of condition is the roof in?
- Would a few potted plants soften the exterior and make your home look more welcoming?
- Do you have any cracked paving slabs?
- Do you have any fence panels that need repairing or replacing?
- Does the lawn need mowing?
- Do the neighbouring properties reflect badly on yours?
Anything that requires work could put people off buying. Spend a few minutes outside your house taking in the details. Take a few photos so you can look again without going outside.
2) Tidy up and get rid of clutter
If your house looks like the one in this photo, you don’t stand much chance of making a sale.
Yes, our homes do look like this sometimes, but it’s not right when you’re trying to sell your house.
Ornaments, books and magazines lying around, shoes, all of it needs to be cleared up. Clean your property, but don’t make it look sparse. It is important that it is homely, but your potential buyers don’t need 50 reminders that you are a fan of porcelain cats if they cover every spare inch of furniture.
Also, it’s a good idea to replace family photos hanging on the walls with neutral prints, and to remove your kids’ paintings from the fridge. You need to depersonalise the space.
Make it easy for potential buyers to move around and explore the property without having to worry about knocking something over. Create a welcoming atmosphere.
3) Take advantage of pleasant odours
A bad smell can stick with you for a long time. People tend to associate bad smells with bad experiences and good smells with good experiences.
Make sure your property smells nice, but don’t go over the top. Scented candles or a nice deodoriser should do the trick although cleaning up will help as well. If you go overboard on the scents, your visitors might think that you have something to hide, so make it pleasant but not too obvious.
Scents people like
- Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
- Herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil (these especially work well in the kitchen)
- Vanilla, almond or mint – look for scented candles
- Green tea
- Pine and cedar
Scents people hate (you need to know these too)
- Cooked food
- The smell of dirty appliances
- Clothing – smelly socks, dirty sports gear, old trainers
- Cigarette smoke
4) Don’t let pets be part of the viewing
As friendly as Fido or Fifi can be, ultimately having pets can be a real distraction from house viewings and can even hinder your progress. People who are supposed to be viewing your property may get caught up playing with the cat or admiring the dog’s unique markings, or they may be completely allergic and hostile throughout the entire viewing.
It’s better that they are kept hidden away from visitors during the viewings, or kept at a friend or relatives house.
Plus it can also sometimes be a stressful experience for the pets themselves; a weird, previously unknown stranger wandering around their house? You’d feel a little uncomfortable too!
5) Prepare an FAQ
This is more of a suggestion than a tip, as it depends on how you feel about selling your property. You may be required to answer a few questions about the property; how it is with traffic, noise etc. If you prepare these questions and answers in advance, you won’t be caught out by random questions when you do conduct the viewings.
Pressure can sometimes make people say stupid (and sometimes damning) things so it is better to have prepared some sort of answer beforehand, just in case.
Of course, your property viewings may differ slightly if you’re showing people around yourself in comparison to getting an estate agent to conduct viewings for you. You will save some money on estate agents fees by selling the property yourself, but then you will have to handle and arrange all the house viewings. It can be stressful.
You can also provide a more accurate opinion on how the property works, what is good about the space, the location etc.
With some of these home staging tricks we’ve covered and your experience of living in your home, you might be able to sell it better than any estate agent can!
Thanks to SSJ Surveyors – an independent firm of Chartered Building Surveyors and Chartered Valuation Surveyors based in Shrewsbury and covering the majority of the Midlands, for helping us create this article.