Preparing your Home for Sale

By Tanya Nazariya (Owner of Brilliant Staging & Design)

Hello my lovely followers!

In my last blog we discussed the market and how it affects us. I explained that our market has significantly slowed down. 2019 is forecasted to be a more level market for buyers, that means it will be slower for sellers. There are many prongs to getting a home sold fast. In this blog we will go over how to prepare your home for sale, hence increasing your chances of selling the home quicker and for more money. Preparing your home should start as soon as you decide you want to sell the home in the future. This can means 2 years down the road or in 1 month. No matter what your timeline, if you think you will be selling your home, you should take necessary steps to prepare it. Even if you just bought a house but you think you might want to sell it a few years down the road, you should make smart decisions that will help your future sale. For example, if you know you’re not planning to live in the house forever, don’t put that taste specific wallpaper up or red countertops in. The decisions you make should be based on keeping things neutral and appealing to the masses.

The Psychology Behind Home Buying

Before I jump into the things you can do to help sell your home faster, I think it is important to understand the psychology of homebuyers. Psychologists say that we make up our minds about a person within the first fifteen seconds of meeting them. The same is true when viewing a house. It’s likely a prospective buyer will have made up their mind before they’ve even walked through your front door. I’ve heard people say, “The home will sell anyways. Why spend all this time and money fixing it?” Time and money… how ironic. If you don’t make an effort to prepare your home for sale, time and money is what you’ll be losing. Even in the hottest of markets, unready homes often sit on the market a while, especially if they aren’t in the most desirable locations. If you own a run down home in the most sought out location- you will probably sell it. But wouldn’t you rather make more money on it? It is proven that people who spend money preparing a home for sale make all the money back and then some. But in the end it’s all about prioritizing and fixing the most important things. Hire a professional to help you prioritize and spend the money where you need to.

When a buyer walks through a home they mentally make a list in their head of all the things that need to be fixed or that they hate. Your goal as a seller is to minimize that list as much as possible. If the list gets overwhelming the buyer moves on. Most buyers are looking to buy a home and move in ASAP. A home that is not move-in-ready will turn away many buyers. If someone is willing to wait, or to invest in fixing the home they will expect to get it for a VERY good deal. The only way this type of sale works is if the home is priced very low, where it is worth it for the buyer to fix it up. Also known as a fixer-upper. But for most people who are trying to make some money on their sale- this isn’t ideal.

Preparing your Home for Sale

So what does this slowed market mean for homeowners or real estate agents? It means you might have to work a little harder to get your home sold. Preparing a home for sale was always important. But as the market slows down it makes it even more important to do so. Buyers now have more inventory to choose from, your home needs to stand out. My next blog will talk more specifically about properly marketing your home, which includes choosing a good real estate agent, stager and photographer. But for now I want to touch on an important topic- Preparing your home prior to having it staged.

Things to do Prior To Staging

Some people have this idea that they can call in a stager and leave all worries behind. Although we do perform magic daily, there are some things even we can’t fix. The home has to be prepared prior to having a stager come in and work their magic.

You need to roll up your sleeves and get that house ready! What you need to do to your home really depends on what end result you desire. Are you just trying to get the house sold ASAP or are you trying to sell it for as MUCH as possible?

If you are trying to get as much money as possible for the home you need to make sure the home is up to date and looking its absolute best. This will most likely include some renovations. Get a design consultation and have a professional recommend what your home needs in order to look more current. Is your home outdated and closed off? Maybe you need to open up some walls and give it a modern, open floor plan. Maybe your kitchen needs a makeover or your bathrooms. The most important spaces in a home for a good return on investment (ROI) are the kitchen, bathrooms and main living room. The master bedroom is equally as important when it comes to staging and marketing, but in terms of renovations the master usually needs minimal help- new paint, new flooring, done. You will not get top dollar for a home that is dated and needs a lot of work.

If you are in a hurry but still want to get as much as possible out of the house then you can do some simple things to make the home look much better.

  1. PAINT!!! I love paint!! It is so quick and easy and makes a home feel brand new! I have had clients who painted their home and cleaned/staged it and it looked like a completely different house. This is especially true if you have dark, or dated paint colors in your home. Painting is one of the most cost-effective improvements a homeowner can make, proving an excellent return on your investment. I always recommend going with a light neutral color throughout the entire home. One consistent color makes a home feel larger as the flow is not disrupted by multiple breaks in color. Light colors also make a home feel larger, brighter and cleaner. Avoid bold “accent walls” because they are very taste specific and custom. It is easy to add an accent wall after the home is purchased. The future homeowner might not love that navy blue wall as much as you do. The goal in everything you do to the home (when your end goal is to sell it) is to appeal to the masses. NEUTRAL and SIMPLE is key! Consider painting dated oak cabinets or trim throughout the house. This simple step immediately makes a home feel more modern.

                    1.1 Under this step I would also like to include removing dated wallpaper.

Also consider whitewashing old red brick. Brick can make a home feel dark and dated. Brick has a very “heavy” feel to it and removing brick can be very expensive and time consuming. I have had many clients whitewash their dated brick and it made the home feel so much more modern! Here is an example of the transformation paint (and staging) can make.

  1. Change out dated light fixtures. This is quick, easy and fairly inexpensive. You don’t need to buy the most expensive light fixtures, but something simple and up to date will make a huge difference. Fixtures often date a home more than anything else.
  1. Add some new hardware to cabinets. I call this the jewelry in the room. Just adding modern cabinet pulls makes them feel more new and exciting.
  1. CLEAN!! Get your carpets cleaned, please please please get your dirty carpets cleaned! Or better yet, get them replaced. It is such a turn off to walk through a home with nasty, smelly, dirty carpets. It makes it difficult for people to picture their new baby crawling around a home that looks like someone died in. Get the entire home deep cleaned. Another disgusting turn off that sends people for the hills is a dirty bathroom: the floors, toilets, sinks, tub etc. Do you envision yourself bathing in your new bathtub with hair stuck to it and a brown line of crud around it? Mmmm nothing says new home like urine stained floors! You get the point right?
  1. Curb-Appeal: Make sure the exterior of your home looks beautiful and well taken care of. Hire a landscaper to spruce up your yard. Pressure-wash the driveway, sidewalks and decks. Paint or Pressure-wash the exterior of the home. Make sure the house numbers are visible from the road. This is important, as you want buyers to easily locate your home. Clear out any garbage or debris. The exterior of the home is the first thing buyers will see before they even walk inside. First Impressions!

Here is a client who refinished their floors and painted out their walls, trim and cabinets. What a difference!!

Here is a list of things every homeowner needs to do prior to listing a home:

  1. Fix all items that need repair
  2. CLEAN!! Buyers love the look and smell of a clean home. This also makes the home feel up-kept and inviting. This goes back to that emotions thing I was talking about earlier. Someone can’t imagine their brand new baby crawling around a home that has dog hair and dirt all over it.
  3. Replace light bulbs with the highest wattage possible- you want the home to feel bright and airy. Your stager will most likely bring in extra lighting as well
  4. Pre-Pack. This will not only make your move easier but it will help declutter and depersonalize the home, making it feel bigger. Depersonalizing is an important step, as you want buyers to envision the home as their own and not as yours. So remove those beautiful family photos and replace them with neutral artwork
  5. Contact a professional home stager who can help you prioritize with a staging consultation and then make your home look beautiful
  6. Interview and research real estate agents
  7. Find an amazing photographer

Keep in mind that most of these things can be hired out, if you are a busy person and prefer to pay someone to do the dirty work. Sometimes it is faster and even more cost effective to pay a professional to paint and clean your home. Selling a home is stressful and sometimes very emotional. It is important to prepare your home and hire the professionals needed to make the experience as smooth and successful as possible.

Stay tuned for my next blog, where we will go more in depth about marketing your home. Making sure you find a good agent, photographer and stager. We will also look deeper into why staging is so important and the statistics behind it.

Best of luck on your home selling and buying adventures!


Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more tips, tricks and photos @brilliantstaging. If there is any topic in particular you’d like to read about, please don’t hesitate to ask. I take all questions to heart and want to help people understand staging, real estate, and design.

1/5/2019