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The Golden Rules: How To Stage A Home On A Budget

For one reason or another, there are still those who doubt the concept of staging a home. Most likely, many see staging as an extra expense, or one that is unnecessary. However, the benefits of staging a home are well documented. In providing buyers with a window as to how they can see themselves in the home, you are adding value. It is entirely possible to increase your final selling price without breaking the bank; in fact, on average, sellers recoup about $2 for every $1 they put into staging a home. If you are looking to stage on a budget, consider the following:

Increase usable space: It should go without saying, but the size of a home is one of the primary factors buyers look for. Almost every buyer initiates their home search with criteria that will meet their living needs – living space being one of those criteria. In fact, it is not uncommon for buyers to completely ignore homes that do not appear large enough to host their family. Therefore, your goal as a stager should be to make the home appear as large as possible. While additions can add square footage, they go against the purpose of this article. The idea is to stage a home on a budget – not with an arm and a leg. Fortunately there are ways to make usable living space appear larger than meets the eye.

Preferably you will be able to remove any clutter from the home prior to showing it. However, that is not always an option. If you are forced to stage a home with the personal effects of the previous family still within, your only option is to de-clutter the area and maximize space. No good can come from a closet filled to the brim with someone else’s clothes. In fact, a full closet violates golden rules one and two. Not only will it be hard for buyers to envision their belongings in the closet if it is filled with clothes, but it also makes the home look like it lacks storage space.

Pro Tip: If you absolutely must show the home with clutter, there are a few things you can do to make it look more appealing. Organization can go a long way. Consider placing clutter in matching boxes that are stacked vertically. You would be surprised how much you can fit in a 5-gallon storage container. If clothes must be in the closet, make sure all the hangers are matching. Replace cheap wire hangers with higher quality hangers to maximize continuity. Bedrooms, in particular, should appear to be a place of relaxation. Consider things like the television to be clutter, as it takes away from the central purpose of the room. You can even remove the kitchen rug to make floor space appear larger.

Thoroughly clean the entire house: Cleaning the house – and I mean really cleaning the house – is the cheapest and simplest way to aid in your staging efforts. Truth be told, it is the one thing that needs to happen for buyers to even consider the home as an option. Dirty houses will not even warrant buyer interest. Really, just clean the house. A garbage can full of trash is as unappealing to you as it would be to a potential buyer. Get rid of the mess, and anything resembling it. It is well worth the cost of a cleaning agent and some rubber gloves. Floors, walls, baseboards, ceiling fans, vents, windows and everything else in the home deserve your attention. Instead of replacing dirty or unkempt appliances and amenities, clean them. This will save you a lot of money and give the home a new shine.

Pro Tip: The most popular rooms in a home, or at least the ones buyers pay the most attention to, are the bathroom and kitchen. They are essentially the rooms where buyers are won over – or lost. However, they are also the rooms most susceptible to accumulating germs. As a stager, you need to make sure the kitchen and bathrooms appear brand new. There is no excuse for not having a crystal clean kitchen and bathroom.

Be sure to clean the refrigerator, sink, inside of the cabinets, drawers and even the oven. Anyone serious about buying your house will want to examine every nook and cranny. Don’t let anything slip by. Again, they want to see themselves living in the house. Make sure it is a clean house they are envisioning.

Modernize: With a few exceptions, homes should be modernized to meet the demands of today’s buyers. Unless the home is accompanied by historically significant build-ins, there is no reason not to preform a few updates where the budget allows. The alternative is to present buyers with a dated home. Not only will an outdated house turn buyers away, but it will also lower the perceived value.

Pro Tip: The goal here is to keep the budget in mind. While replacing all of your appliances with stainless steel counterparts will modernize things really fast, it will cost more than you want to admit. Instead, consider making a lot of smaller changes. Swapping out gold fixtures for nickel or chrome ones can go a long way. For around $200, you can bring your kitchen cabinets into the 21st century. Just apply a new coat of stain and compliment them with new hardware. With the small expenditure, your kitchen will look brand new.

Appeal to a broad audience: In staging a home, you want to appeal to the broadest audience possible. In catering to a specific population, you are essentially neglecting everyone else. You don’t want to pigeonhole your efforts before you even begin. Therefore, any staging efforts you make should be neutral. Color, in particular, can either make or break a buyer’s decision. As much as you may appreciate a bright accent wall, potential buyers may consider it an additional expense to paint over. In fact, a fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways you can add value to a staged property. However, make the colors neutral. Bright pink will scare off far more buyers than it will attract.

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