• Sheena Saydam

Staging Your Maryland Home to Sell

Let me break it to you right off the bat. Your Maryland home needs to be staged to sell. You may think your home is ready to be put on the market. You may think it is beautifully decorated, too. Even if you have watched every home makeover episode HGTV has ever offered, channeled your inner Donna Reid since … well, for years, let’s just say, and heard all your friends tell you how great, warm and homey your house is, your house still needs the ambiance and décor of home staging to sell.

Trust me. Your home will sell faster and will fetch a better price when you have staged your home. Remember, a potential buyer isn’t interested in viewing your family pictures, your personal tastes in decorating or your piles of stuff. That buyer wants to envision them living there in the space your home offers.

When your house goes on the market, it’s time to cut the emotional ties from your house and set all sentimentality aside. It is no longer your house. It has become a house that will soon be a buyer’s home. You need to get YOU out of the way with home staging so that your home will sell.

Picture an inviting hotel suite. Each room is staged with just enough furniture and amenities to serve you during your stay. The purpose of each room or space is clear. No one’s personality, memories or personal tastes are there telling you who stayed in that suite before you. Obviously, you're still living in your home, but only the basic necessities are able to be seen. The personal stuff is gone, neatly organized and out of sight!

Ask yourself this question, “Would I want to settle into a hotel suite before the maid has cleaned up all evidences of the previous occupant? Would I find that inviting?”

If you’re groaning, think about this from another angle. Pretend your home is already sold. Since you're moving, you must sort, purge and pack your belongings. All of this must be done because moving day is coming! So go ahead and get started on the moving process right away.  I’m not suggesting that you clear everything out completely. Just move YOU out of sight of the buyer and leave the basics, the furniture and amenities necessary to convey the purpose of each room only.

Still groaning? Perhaps a mantra for staging will help. As you are sorting, purging and packing, repeat this to yourself, “My home is a five-star hotel!” Now, let’s repeat our staging mantra and take one room at a time.

The Kitchen

  • Counters should be clear. Remove everything from the counters completely – countertop appliances, utensils, clutter.

  • If you have granite countertops, consider resurfacing them. Resurfacing will make them look brand new!

  • Clean all major appliances. Research the cost of new appliances and update if needed. Money invested here may be returned in the selling price.

  • Downsize the amount of dishes used. Since you will be moving anyway, decide which dishes to keep, purge, donate or pack.  Keep only one matching set of dishes and display them neatly in the cupboards. Buyers enjoy opening cupboards to view how cupboard space is used and how spacious a cupboard is.

  • Clean out food from cabinets, pantry and refrigerator. (Yes, the fridge will be opened!) Organize pantry items that will be used during the move in nice, neat rows like at a grocery store. If you’re employing a mover, they may work with an organization such as Move for Hunger, for example, and will donate food items for you. Just ask.

  • Clean out and wipe down every single drawer! Sort the contents of each one. Put back only the things needed. Repeat.

  • Oh! Don’t forget about all those lists, numbers, cute sayings, measurement guides, that may be stuck to the outside of the fridge. Remove them.

After everything in the kitchen has been sorted, purged, organized and cleaned, stage the kitchen. Feature a plant or a bowl full of pretty, plump lemons on a kitchen counter. Set the table with plates, napkins and a centerpiece for the current season of the year.

The following idea is somewhat debated, but consider baking a batch of cookies on open house day to put that mouth-watering, fresh-baked cookie smell in your home. You could even set a clear glass pitcher filled with water, lemon slices and ice on the counter like they do at some spas!

The Living Room

  • Clear all items and books from shelves and surfaces. If you have ten things on a shelf, trim it down to three. (Home staging tip: displaying décor in clusters of three creates visual appeal.) Pack or donate the rest.

  • Remove your budding child Picasso’s paintings along with all family photos. They must go. Spackle any holes, texture if needed and paint. Replace the photo gallery with only a few generic art pieces.

  • Fix light switches, curtain rods, etc. that needs fixing. These things must be fixed anyway, so do it now.

  • Recycle magazines and newspapers.

  • Look at how the furniture is arranged. Does the arrangement show off the features of the living room? Donate or get rid of pieces that wouldn't make sense to someone else.

When everything in the living room is ready, place fresh flowers or seasonal décor and maybe a candy dish full of chocolate on the coffee table. Apply the staging mantra here, “My home is a five-star hotel,” and enable the buyer to think, “This very nice house will soon be my new permanent home.”

The Bathroom(s)

  • Make certain the bathrooms are clean! Bathrooms should be spotless, immaculate.

  • Clear the shower and countertops of all products. Live out of a travel bag like you would if you were staying in a five-star hotel while your house is on the market.

  • Clear out medicine cabinets. (They will be opened, too!) In fact, you may need to completely replace outdated medicine cabinets.

  • If you have sliding glass doors and the rollers stick, replace them. Rollers that work make the sliding doors like new.

  • Remove all water stains.

  • Fix dripping faucets or leaking toilets.

Once the bathrooms are clean and ready to be shown, stage the bathrooms with a display of crisp white or other neutral towels just for showing the house. Put away the towels you actually use. Place an attractive basket with a rolled up washcloth (tied with a ribbon), fresh soap and a new travel-sized lotion in it to display on each bathroom counter.

The Bedrooms

  • Like the living room, clear all items and books from shelves and surfaces. If you have ten things on a shelf, trim it down to three. (Refer to the home staging tip mentioned earlier.) Pack or donate the rest. There should be no personal items displayed.

  • Empty closets. Sort, purge, organize, donate and pack everything in each closet. Keep only what is necessary and display it all neatly since the closets will be opened. Keep in mind, an empty closet is better than a closet stuffed and overflowing. A buyer wants to see all the space a closet has to offer.

  • Make bedrooms feel like a hotel suite. Purchase fresh, new linens and bedspreads if possible.

  • If a bedroom was being used as a storage room, turn it back into a bedroom.

You may want to rent a storage unit for the unnecessary furniture and packed items you can live without while your home is on the market. Renting extra storage may be well worth the cost. You do not want the buyers to see your garage, spare/junk room and basement full of any clutter.

Now, walk through your home and ask yourself:

  • Are the carpets clean? Are there any noticeable stains on the carpets?

  • Has everything been painted that needed painting? (Paint is cheap and reaps a greater selling price!)

  • Are the windows clean? (Hire a window cleaner or do it yourself.)

  • Do I have a unified look throughout our home? Have I stuck with just one decorating theme? (Sticking with only one theme will help you get rid of half your stuff, too!)

  • Has every corner, nook and cranny been thoroughly cleaned?

If all this has been taken care of, it’s time to move outside and check your home’s curb appeal.

Home Exterior

If a buyer sees messiness and wear and tear on the outside of a home, they tend to think a home is messy and worn on the inside, too. Do yourself a selling favor and make a good first impression!

  • Paint the front door with a fresh coat of paint.

  • Make sure the doorbell and porch light work.

  • Clear the yard of debris.

  • Prune plants and bushes. Provide pops of color with flowers.

  • Sweep and power wash the porch and sidewalk.

Since more home owners spend time out back, set the picnic table or patio table for a backyard party. Make sure the backyard is inviting for a long visit over iced tea. And don’t forget the fences and air-conditioning unit! They need to be well cared for just like the yard’s plants and bushes with routine care.

Now, trek out to the front sidewalk. Look at your home. Take a picture of it. How does it look? I use only a professional photographer to take pictures of your home. Make sure it photographs well.

Next, walk through the front door. As you move through the house, room by room, look at your home with potential buyers’ eyes. Does each room scream five-star hotel?

If so, pour yourself a glass of the spa water and have a cookie, too. You deserve it! Your Maryland home is staged and will sell quickly with the huge benefit of being more than half way done with the moving process! If not, give me a call. I will connect you with a professional home stager who will stage your home and get it ready to sell quickly.