Staging your home

When it comes time to sell your home, you will need to take a step back and be a little bit objective. Many of us have spent years accumulating family mementos, nic-nacks and things that make us who we are. When it comes time to sell your property, you need to think of it in terms of your buyer. The first step in staging your home is to de-clutter and clean house.

De-cluttering doesn't mean putting all of the family portaits into storage or removing 90% of the furniture, it simply means to clear away a few items that are personal and to clear worksurfaces and cabinets so that your buyer is presented with an open and clean property where they can visualize their own belongings. As ou go through the home, look at where furniture is placed, are the walkways clear or do you still have to step around the favourite armchair? Furniture that presents difficulty in accessing a room will also put off your buyer, making them think that your home is small and difficult to move around, so a quick shuffle of furniture can open up rooms and make your home feel bigger.

Think about how clean your home is as it is presented to your buyers. We all think of our homes as being clean and tidy, but there are always small jobs that buyers will notice, silly things such as the baseboard scuffs from the vacuum cleaner, or that mark on the wall where the picture used to be. A quick 'spring clean' of your home will help it to present well to buyers and have better curb appeal.

What about Staging?

Staging your home is a little bit like acting - you need to present your home in a way that the buyer, as they walk around, can see their own furniture and belongings in the spaces and leave them with the feeling that they can see themselves living there. Staging is about a select few items strategically placed to make your home inviting. Carefully positioned lamps and books will leave the buyer feeling that the room is warm and comfortable, and a place that they can relax and read. In the kitchen, think about how your kitchen is presented.  A kitchen is a family space, used to prepare and often consume food and as a gathering place - it is probably the most used room in your home. If you have work surfaces, make sure that they are clear, put small items away in the cabinets and drawers and showcase your kitchen as having a large amount of food preparation area.  Use of cleverly positioned items will give the buyer an impression that the room is used for a purpose - perhaps an open cookbook on a stand, a bowl of fresh fruit or cups and cafettiere ready for fresh coffee. Remember, you are presenting your home as a lifestyle as well as a place to live.

Things to watch out for

Buyers like to feel that they are able to move straight in and be comfortable in your home, we've all seen TV shows where the first words from a buyers mouth when viewing a home are to do with the colour of the paint or the interior decor. Buyers often don't look past the decor and think of vibrant paint and dark rooms as being preventative to the purchase. A simple coat of fresh paint in a bright neutral colour can make a huge difference when selling your home, both in terms of the time it is presented on the market and the final sale price.

If you have pets or children, think about the state of repair of the carpets, walls and furnishings. As a dog owner myself, it's easy to see where the occassional scuff mark can be overlooked, or scratch marks in the drywall. Small repairs will make a big difference, and now is the time to do it. Also think about aromas! Pets, children, laundry, cooking smells, even the type of furniture in your home can leave a lingering odour, which we become accustomed to in our day to day lives. Think about opening windows, avoid cooking rich and fragrent foods in the days leading up to your showing, and think of subtle air fresheners. Avoid using strong aroma air fresheners or lighting 100 candles before each showing, buyers will be overwhelmed with the fragrence and it will raise a question as to why the smell is so strong. A clean, neutral and fresh smell is easy to achieve. One simple tip is to use tumble drier sheets, hidden in closets, behind cabinets or cushions, the fragrence is subtle and fresh and won't be overwhelmning.

So the house is perfect - how about curb appeal?

So I challenge you - take a coffee, walk to the end of the driveway and look back at your home. Your buyers will arrive and the first impression of your home is what can make or break a sale. How does your house look from the street? Are there overgrown shrubs and trees that could be pruned back? How does the front lawn look?  Is the fencing in a state of disrepair? Simple jobs such as a fresh coat of paint on door and window frames, fixing fence slats that have come adrift and cutting the front grass will make a huge impact on your buyer. By fixing the odd fence slat that is wonky, yur buyer won't be thinking that they have to replace the whole fence at great expense!

Sweep the driveway, paint and freshen up, trim the shrubs and trees, cut the grass and think about how you can stage the house from the exterior - small things that don't cost a lot to implement such as a few well positioned planters, some hanging baskets (well -watered) and a few bedding plants will make your home look well-loved and cared for.