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As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression—and that definitely goes for a house you want to sell.
While your home may be a far cry from Pinterest-perfect, there are still ways to stage it so it looks photo-ready for prospective buyers. You could hire a professional home stager, or you can go the less-expensive DIY route with these 10 tips, courtesy of the pros.
One of the easiest ways to make your house appear well-maintained is to make sure nothing is broken. DIY fixes to make run the gamut from easy—like replacing burned-out lightbulbs—to more time-intensive tasks such as patching cement cracks in your sidewalks.
Here are some other repairs to consider:
- Replace missing cabinet pulls or handles.
- Fix any doors that don’t shut properly.
- Recaulk around sinks, tubs and showers.
- Patch holes or cracks in walls and ceilings.
- Get broken appliances fixed.
- Fix leaky faucets and running toilets.
- Pro tip:Consider getting a presale home inspection to identify any repair needs you may miss. This also will help you during negotiations with a buyer, who may seek concessions if any inspection issues are to arise.
You know how much effort you put into spring cleaning? Do even more before you put your house on the market. Deep clean baseboards, light switch plates, picture frames and underneath furniture—anywhere that collects dirt or dust. Don’t forget the outside. Power-wash your deck, sidewalk, driveway and roof to get rid of unsightly mold.
Pro tip: For dingy, hard-to-clean tile grout, use a grout pen to either change its color or restore the grout back to a gleaming white. Grab a Magic Eraser or cleaning pad to get out tough stains on walls and cabinets.
Walk around your house. Any time a piece of furniture or other obstacle gets in your way, remove it or rearrange the space. Anything that disrupts the traffic pattern throws off buyers subconsciously and makes a room feel smaller.
“Per square footage is what it’s about,” says Karen Otto, owner of HomeStarStaging.com. “Furnishings eat up equity.” Stick extra furniture in the attic, garage or in a storage space off-site, if feasible.
Pro tip: Make sure there you have at least 30 inches of space between walls and the backs of furniture or other items.
Paint the walls, baseboards, doors, window sills and framing on-trend, neutral colors, especially if you haven’t painted in a decade. Even if your walls are already neutral, a fresh coat of paint still makes the room look new and clean. Consider painting dark wood paneling and kitchen cabinets a lighter, neutral color to convey that move-in ready look.
“Any time a buyer sees a bright red wall, all they’re thinking is they have to repaint it,” says Shauna Lynn Simon, owner of BeyondtheStageHomes.com. “That’s the last thing you want your buyer to be thinking.”
Pro tip: Go with an in-between color that blends grays and beige, also called “greige.” Otto recommends the colors Accessible Beige or Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams.
Update fixtures and hardware
If your house is still rocking builder’s brass on light fixtures and cabinetry, it’s time for an update. Focus on the areas with highest impact, such as entryway lights, dining room chandeliers and kitchen lighting. Switch out outdated door knobs, cabinet pulls and handles and any other hardware for more modern ones in stainless steel or rubbed bronze.
Pro tip: Check out Lowe’s and Home Depot—both retailers typically display on-trend fixtures that won’t break the bank.
Depersonalize and de-function
It may sound harsh, but you need to strip your home of its personality. That means packing away souvenirs, collections, certificates, awards, diplomas, calendars, trophies, yearbooks and any personal photos. Tuck away any other functional-only items that don’t add to the décor, such as tissue boxes, toothbrushes, paper towel rolls and dish sponges.
Pro tip: Getting rid of these personal items not only makes your home look open-house ready, but it also eliminates some security issues. You don’t necessarily want strangers to know where your children go to school.
Consider changing up your accessories, art, pillows and bedding, especially if you haven’t done that in a while. “No offense, but if your home looks and feels like grandma lives here, it won’t capture the heart and mind of a younger homebuyer,” says Otto.
Consult home-decor magazines like Home Beautiful and HGTV Magazine, as well as Pinterest to determine what’s in. Then visit Home Goods, Marshalls or TJ Maxx to get seasonal, trendy accessories at easy-on-the-wallet prices.
Pro tip: Use large-scale artwork rather than a cluster of smaller frames. Paintings should be abstract or of landscapes, says Simon. “No people, no animals. Nothing with eyes,” she says.
To hide everyday clutter—after all, you are most likely living in your house until you sell it—employ baskets as a catchall everywhere, says Simon. Use them to store kids’ toys and electronic cords and remotes. Use the same style—but various sizes if needed—throughout the same room for consistency. Store on shelves, pantries and in closets.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to straighten up closets, especially if you’re selling a condo where space is a premium. Install organizer systems to maximize the space, and use matching hangers for aesthetics. Clear closet floors to make the closet appear larger.
Show off features
Walk into each major room and identify what in it makes a statement. Consider such features as marble countertops, walk-in showers, hardwood floors, stone fireplaces and bay windows with fantastic views. Make sure the furniture arrangement and accessories direct your attention to that feature, rather than detract from it. For instance, remove rugs to show off floors, and put away small appliances to highlight countertops.
Pro tip: Think back to when you first bought your home: What did you fall in love with in the house and in each room? Highlight it when you stage.
Always start on the curb—go across the street to see how your house presents. Looking at it from the curbside perspective that your buyers are likely to see first will help you see what needs to be done to get your house in shape. Weeding, edging, mulching and mowing are all things you should do—and if it needs it, paint it, even the roof line.
The front yard shot is typically the first photo online, so once you’ve made necessary updates, ask your real estate agent to take a fresh picture.
Pro tip: Mulching can be your best friend to tighten up a yard in a pinch.
The article, 10 Ways to Stage Your Home for Sale Like a Pro, originally appeared on ValuePenguin.