I’ve got some big news today – we sold our condo! No, the papers aren’t signed yet. We’re going to be closing June 30th. But I’m thrilled to say that we got our first offer approximately eight hours after it was listed. Our unit went up on realtor.com at noon on Monday, May 15th, and by 8pm that night we had an offer sitting in our grubby little paws. We got a few more offers after that, but after a little dickering, we went with the first offer. And I can’t wait to tell you how we did it.
It helps that we’re in a desirable neighborhood (Brookhaven, GA – part of Atlanta) with lots of development going in, including a Whole Foods. But not every unit in our complex gets an offer in eight hours, and I’ve learned a lot about staging a house to sell . . . . so I’m excited to offer my tips. I can’t say you’ll sell your place in eight hours, but I can say that these tips WILL help you.
I’ve only owned one home before, and it was empty when it was sold. I’d actually moved out years before and had been renting it out, which made it easy. Easy translates to: I didn’t have to do anything. That was NOT the case with this condo. Let me offer you a little insight into some of the challenges we were facing in listing our unit for sale (because we did have them):
- Our condos crashed in 2008 (like everyone else) – but I mean CRASHED. And then it bounced back slowly. The floor plan that Steve paid $130,000 for sold in another building for $55,000 in 2013. We wanted to sell for $140,000 or more. While prices have increased – we didn’t know what we could get based on comps. Some of them weren’t very good, honestly.
- We had two people living in a one bedroom unit with a “bonus room.” And because we worked out of the unit, and because Steve is a collector, it was filled with stuff from top to bottom, including furniture.
- We owned dogs that shed and drag in muddy paw prints and needed a place to go during showings.
You’re going to read a lot of articles about curb appeal, etc. That’s great and I think that one is more obvious. But there are so many other things to think about in staging a house to sell and consider and then do – I wanted to share them with you having just been through the process. Not only did I learn fro my own experience, but through looking at THOUSANDS of ads online for potential homes on the other end (we ended up going with new construction). Here’s what I learned about staging a house to sell!
Staging a House to Sell
1. Get your mind right. This was a tough one for us but your mindset is the first thing that needs to be changed, honestly! You’re going to need to get emotionally ready for your home not to be your home anymore. At least it’s not going to resemble the home you knew. But here’s the deal – you’re getting it ready for someone else to purchase, so you need to stop thinking of it as your home and your baby . . . and you need to shine it up for potential buyers. Where your stuff goes so that it works for you is not as important as making it look attractive to potential buyers.
2. Listen to your realtor. Your realtor will have tips on staging a house to sell. If they don’t, get a new realtor. Our realtor gave us a lot of suggestions, and even though it was a pain in the butt, our sparse staging really helped. We had enough stuff that it could give the potential buyer a vision of how their things could fit without it being too crowded. That’s what you want. It will look kind of sparse, but that’s good.
3. Reduce your stuff to bare bones. It’s a pain to move stuff, but if you need to, rent a storage unit. Or ask a family member to keep your things. Don’t keep a bunch of big and bulky furniture. Let people see the “assets” that your house has, whatever they are.
4. Rent storage if you need to. If you’re staging a house to sell, and you don’t have a family member to keep your things, get storage. Let me suggest a little something off the wall to you: ZippyShell. They can deliver a container right to your driveway, and you pack it up. It goes to storage. Then when you need it, call ZippyShell again, bring the magic container back, and fill it up with all of your things. It’s that easy!
5. Straighten your cabinets and drawers. It needs to look like “Sleeping with the Enemy” in your cabinets. All labels turned to the front. This is because everyone likes pretty cabinets, and it’s easy to do while you’re watching reality TV. Plus you’ll throw away a lot that you needed to throw away anyway.
6. PAINT. I can’t believe how many people don’t paint their homes! It’s crazy to me. As of this writing, you should go with Agreeable Gray or Accessible Beige. We went with the latter. Everyone loves it and it looks great. A fresh coat of paint makes the place look and smell better!
7. If you have to buy staging furniture, get it on Amazon. After looking EVERYWHERE for cheap staging furniture, I found that Amazon had the best prices. Well besides the thrift store, but that is hit or miss around here. Once piece we bought was this Linon Tavern Collection 3-Piece Set. We needed a small table where a kitchen table would go, and this fit the bill. It was perfect!
8. Lighting is important. I don’t mean the photography lighting, I mean the lighting within the unit when people come to look. You want ALL THE LIGHTS ON. We also invested in this under cabinet lighting. Which, if you don’t have under cabinet lighting and want some, is amazing. It’s even got a remote!
9. Get a good photographer. Don’t take the photos with your cell phone in bad lighting. Our realtor had someone she works with take the photos. That is your best bet. But if you are doing for sale by owner, hire someone.
10. Care about the smell. We bought a huge bottle of Febreeze. And sprayed our items every day and right before we left. It’s not because we stink (I don’t think?), but because every place has its own unique smell, and we wanted the smell of our place to be “fresh.”
11. Carve out a place for your essentials. This is a bonus tip! And just something handy we learned. We cleaned out a credenza where we’ve put all our essential items during this moving process. And by “essential” items I mean important paperwork, bills, files, etc. It’s very easy to lose your stuff during the staging process. Steve and I were constantly asking each other “where is so-and-so?” We got really annoyed with ourselves!
Are you staging a house to sell? Let me know about your experiences and tips in the comments. Ready for more of our moving saga? Click on the image below to learn more about #ATLtoVanWA!