Tucson Home Seller's Guide
The Preparation Checklist – Download this checklist to help you prepare for show time! DIY Staging is your friend!
Preparing Your Home
Pack. Simplify. Repeat.
Preparing your home for sale is a critical step in getting the best price you can, which is why I’m going to walk you through do-it-yourself (DIY) staging advice in detail.
Firstly, if you are aware of any needed repairs (there are almost always some), it is best to take care of them prior to buyers visiting your home to minimize surprises down the line. I’d even recommend getting an inspector to inspect for you so you know what to expect and can incorporate any costs into your net proceeds prior to listing. After you follow the advice on this page, you’ll likely notice more flaws – as you stage the home and remove unnecessary items, dingy walls and baseboards may seem more noticeable.
Now, you need to begin your packing process. For real.
Begin packing BEFORE you sell. Get a storage unit. Consider a PODS unit, a U-Haul Box, or similar – as many as needed to clear out about 60-80% of your stuff. Any storage unit will work for beginning the packing and DIY staging, but these options allow you to pack at a slower pace, since the unit lives on your property while you pack it. You can arrange to have it taken away and stored off-site as soon as you’ve finished filling it. This will help tremendously when you are ready to move, so it is time well spent. If you take the time to pack now, the bulk of your DIY staging job is done – your home will attract more buyers and sell very quickly; you won’t need to be without these things for very long! Keep only what you need to function minimally and even then, hide away functional things (like your toaster) when your house goes on display. With all of this thinning out, it will be much easier to keep your home tidy during the sale process and you will find offers coming in much faster – the reason for staging in the first place!
DIY Staging doesn’t have to take an artist’s eye to make a significant difference. For example, If you have full bookshelves, pack up 90% of the books and other items. You might choose to leave a set of bookends with just three or four books depending on the space. Perhaps a decorative candle, or a single art statue. Remember, you’re trying to leave it looking like a hotel or model home, not a place that has people living in it.
What to do with your artwork? Art doesn’t necessarily need to come off the walls, but if you have a lot of it, it’s wise to thin it out. Keep your most impressive pieces on the wall and go ahead and repair holes from pieces removed. If your art is controversial in the slightest, pack it up. Remove personal photos and mementos. There are two reasons for this. One, it keeps your personal things safe while strangers are going in and out of your home. Two, house hunters want to imagine their own family in the home, not yours. That’s the most basic principle of staging.
A few plants sporadically placed will warm the atmosphere.
Take the absolute minimalist approach when staging. Hold on to furniture pieces only if they are sized appropriately for the space. If you have a large sofa and a loveseat that take up a good portion of your living room/family room, pare it down to only the loveseat, a small coffee table and maybe a side table at most. Leave one plant out in the room (or a candle), for a warm and inviting feel. Do the same in the bedrooms. Perhaps you can live with only one dresser instead of two while your house is on display. Fewer and smaller furniture items will make the space look bigger.
Thin out your closets.
A staged house isn’t a practical place to live. It just sells better. That should be all the motivation you need to do DIY staging. Pack up your off-season clothing and anything you don’t wear often. You can live with fewer items for the short term. Having closets that are full will give the impression that there is limited storage space. Ideally, you’d only have a few items hanging on matching hangers to imply what the space is used for. Do the same with your kitchen pantry. Organize items like they do in catalogs – it may not be your idea of practical or realistic to live with long-term, but it will help sell your home for more money!
When it’s time to finish packing up to move to your new home, you’ll be so glad to have done all this prep work!
Dress up your beds.
Bedding is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to make your home feel fresh and inviting. Splurge on some fresh sheets and a neutral comforter/bed spread that is fresh and new – now add some pillows! When you go looking for hotels for an overnight stay somewhere, remember how it makes you feel to walk into an inviting bed – one that doesn’t look like everyone else has been sleeping in it.
Clean, simple style.
Hang clean, simple guest towels in your bathrooms. Perhaps one unopened bar of soap stacked on top of one or two folded wash cloths on the counter (as you might imagine a hotel would present for a guest).
Make beds with clean, attractive spreads (simple designs). The point is to attract attention to the space, not the furniture.
Clean thoroughly. A dirty and/or cluttered environment will cause prospective buyers to notice flaws. Scrub sinks and tubs super clean. If you hire professionals, it will be worth every penny and effort, and will pay dividends when house hunters are considering how much to offer on your home. A vacant home can draw attention to flaws as well, and potential buyers may feel they need to save funds from their offer to fix up the place. Staging helps them see that the house is move-in ready.
Appeal to the Senses.
Make sure your home smells fresh! If you have odors in your home caused by anything from cooking scents to pet odors or tobacco, clean thoroughly and use citrus cleaners more so than air fresheners, as air fresheners can come on too strong. Citrus and cinnamon scents (in moderation) are found to increase home sales! If you have carpet that has years of smells built up in it, replace the carpet! It will be SO worth the money spent. Smells can turn people right out the door, and you may have become used to them from living there (animal smells are a good example of this – you usually can’t smell your own dog’s scent in your home until you come back from being away for some time). Don’t assume offering a carpet allowance will take care of it – once the impression is made, you can’t take it back.
And finally, take out your trash before every showing.
Word to the Wise
Remember, when you’re staging, you’re not trying to share your personality with your potential buyers – this isn’t about you or your taste in collectibles, furniture or colors. Take cues from current model homes on home decor – keep it extremely simple and neutral. The goal is to appeal to the masses (more offers = higher purchase price). Introduce a splash of color, but use the color very minimally (like in sofa cushions or artwork) and use only one color in addition to the neutrals. If your home is painted with bright vivid colors throughout, have the walls painted in neutral tones (not all white though). Think of it as creating an inviting blank slate for the buyers to imagine all of their own belongings and design ideas. If you have a single accent wall in a bold color, no sweat. Play to it when you stage by complementing it with throw pillows or other small accents. You can often make it work with items you have, but absolutely keep any accenting to this single color and make sure it’s a small percentage of the overall visual.
All Ready for Show. What Now?
Congratulations, your staging is done. Now, light up the place! Let all the natural light available into your home. Open blinds and curtains and turn on all lights when you leave your home for showings, as agents may not do so and it enhances the experience of homebuyers. Close windows to eliminate any street noise.
Do your best to make your house completely available for showings. It’s okay if you need notice for showings, but don’t make people wait too long. If you work from home and need to limit the hours for viewing your home, just know that it will take longer to sell your home. If you can, arrange to be away from the home for the first two days on the market, so agents can take clients any time of day. Allowing yourself to be inconvenienced will mean a faster sale and overall fewer life disruptions!
Do everything in your power to avoid being home (or having pets at home) during a showing. You want prospective buyers to feel comfortable and not rushed when viewing the home. If you’re there, they will rush in and out and feel awkward about conversing with one another about the pros and cons of your home for their family. Don’t leave signs of your pets out either (like food bowls and litter boxes); you don’t want focus on the fact that pets live in the home.
Keep your garage door closed and your driveway clear of any cars or other vehicles when your house is being shown.
Take a walk or go for a drive and enjoy the break! You’ll be well on your way to a successful sale.
The Preparation Checklist – Download this checklist to help you prepare for show time!