Getting the highest price for your property requires input from you and your estate agent
How to Stage Your Property
These are Preston Baker’s top tips for staging your home and maximising the value of your property. You have two opportunities to make a first impression when selling your home, but you need to get the first one right in order to get the second.
Your first impression will be your property listing, essentially the advertisement you have showcasing your house. If you are selling your own property this could be through taking your own photographs and putting them online somewhere. It is more likely that you will be utilising the services of an Estate Agent, in which case your property will feature on their website and on one or more major property portals. For instance, Preston Baker use Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market and our own website to maximise exposure of your property.
- First Impression: Your Property Listing - Professional photos of decluttered bright rooms
- Second First-Impression: Viewing in Person - Bright, clean, welcoming, uncluttered
- The front door - A place a buyer pauses before entering. Make it count
- The entrance-way / hall - Declutter, make it clean, make it smell nice
- De-clutter De-clutter De-clutter - Give buyers space to picture their belongings
- Clean Everything - A dirty house will give the impression the house hasn't been looked after
- Windows - Give them a good clean, inside and out
- Dress your rooms - Fresh bedding and towels and set your dining table
- Highlight Features - Point our traditional features and aspects that set your property apart
- Rooms Need to Have A Purpose - Spare bedroom or Study? Make it clear
- Colour isn’t a sin - Colour done well can lift a room when done right
- Bright and Welcoming - All lights on and curtains opened wide
- Finish your projects - Don't give the impression work needs to be done
First Impression – Your Property Listing
This digital showcase of your property is usually the first chance potential buyers will have to see your property, so everything about your property listing needs to be spot on.
Your rooms need to be clean and uncluttered, and the photographs showcasing your property need to be bright, inviting and look professional. If someone doesn’t like your photos, they won’t click your listing, and they won’t book a viewing and they ultimately won’t buy your property.
There is a lot more to getting people to click your listing than photos, which is a topic for another guide, but quickly it needs to be priced right; the description needs to tell them the things that set your property apart; the photos need to look fantastic and it may be that external shot isn’t the best photo to gain interest; finally an upgraded listing that shows more photographs could be the way to get a better first impression.
Second First-Impression: Viewing in Person
Let’s assume we’ve got everything on your listing spot on. We’ve been working hard getting interested buyers to book viewings for your property. Your next impression comes when they view the property in person. This will affect all their senses, not just sight, making this is a harder one to get right.
We’ll cover what you need to get right for a property viewing, as this will also cover what needs to be right when you get initially get the photographs taken.
Bear in mind that we use our trademarked Property Launch® method to sell properties. This condenses all your property viewings into one day, after following an intensive marketing strategy to drive as many viewers to your property as possible on that day. What does this mean for you? It means all the work we are recommending only gets done once, for the Property Launch® event.
Let’s follow the journey of a typical interested buyer viewing a property.
1. Your street
There might not be a lot you can do about your street. But you can tidy up the outside approach to your property, picking up litter, cutting grass, and even pressure washing dirty flagstones and walls. If you have vehicles parked outside, then move them elsewhere. You want to give the impression this is a clean safe street to live, that has adequate parking.
2. The outside view of your property.
First declutter and tidy up the outside of your property. If the outside is painted, make sure the paint looks clean. Either wash the painted areas, or if needed stick another coat of paint on there. If you have a drive don’t have your car parked there. If you have wheelie bins, make sure they aren’t at the front of the house. Gardens should be free of weeds, with cut grass. If you want a quick pick me up, a few pot plants with bursts of colour can give that sense of vibrancy, energy, nature and comfort.
In all cases make sure that your windows are cleaned and your curtains are drawn back nicely. If you have external lights make sure they have working bulbs, particularly in winter when there may be viewers when it is dark outside.
The front door
The front door can be an opportunity for the buyer to pause as they wait for the door to be answered. A pause gives them chance to cast a critical eye. Make sure your front door is clean and free from peeling paint. If it has windows, make sure they are clean. Do not have clutter around your front door, though a doormat gives the impression that you care about the property. Make sure the external doormat is in relatively new condition.
The entrance-way / hall
Staging a home starts with the entrance. If you have an external porch. Declutter this area and make sure it is clean. Having a pair of shoes in there is fine, it gives the impression that this area is useful. However, fourteen pairs of shoes jumbled on top of each other just gives the impression the house is cramped (before they even have a chance to get into the property).
As the buyer goes through the door into your property two things will hit them. What it looks like and what it smells like. Also, the temperature will also be a factor.
The view into your property, whether this is a hallway or even directly into the front room needs to be decluttered (spotting a theme here?) and clean. Make sure walls are light in colour and carpets are clean, it’s important the hallway looks as large as possible. If you have wood or tile flooring, ensure it is thoroughly cleaned. If you have coat hooks, make sure to move your coats somewhere out of sight. If your stairs lead away from your front door, do not use your bannister to hang coats or clothes.
Regarding smell. There are a few tricks to help make your house smell lovely. Bake some bread before the viewings. Place a small amount of vanilla essence is an ovenproof dish and heat in a warm oven. In both cases do not let them burn as this will have the opposite effect. Another alternative is to brew freshly ground coffee.
If you have pets, arrange for them to be out of the property for 24 hours prior to your viewings, remove their bedding and have the windows open to freshen the property during that time; we love dogs and cats at Preston Baker, but not everyone does, so at the very least don’t have pets there on viewing day. If you do open windows make sure to close them with enough time to heat the property to a nice temperature in winter. In summer make sure your windows are at least cracked open to allow fresh air to circulate.
The rest of the property will require very similar changes to each room. Here are the main action points.
De-clutter De-clutter De-clutter
Having a clutter free property is the most important thing to show your home in the best light. Remember, you’re looking to move house aren’t you? So, take this as an opportunity to get rid of all the old stuff you have hanging around. The stuff that can be donated or thrown away, get rid of it. The items you want to keep, but perhaps make the property look cluttered, pack them all away and put them into a storage unit (not in your garage or hidden in a cupboard somewhere).
You’re going to need to pack away all this stuff when you move anyway, so get half the job done now and save yourself effort on your actual moving day.
A good rule of thumb is to remove a third of items. If you have a bookshelf, don’t have the shelves crammed full of books. Have a few books bunched together, followed by an ornament and maybe a candle. You need to show the person viewing your property that there is space in your home to fit their personal belongings into. Put all your non-seasonal clothes in storage, make sure there is space in the wardrobe on the rails, and in the drawers so they can imagine their items in there.
The living room should look cosy and welcoming. Soft tactile furnishings help give that feeling of comfort and security. One central piece of art gives a sense of style and interest, without making the room feel cluttered. Personal items should be kept to a minimum; if you have a fireplace full of family photos then remove most of them for the viewing. Let buyers feel like they could walk in, take off their coat, and feel like this is home.
In the kitchen remove all bulky appliances from the kitchen counters. The most you want on show is a kettle and maybe some decorative items If they add some style to the kitchen. If you have a draining board, hide that away so that only the very clean / polished sink is visible. Do not have scouring pads or dishcloths on show. That 40-piece crockery set you have, turn it into a 12 piece and only have those items in the cupboard. If you have a collection of mismatched crockery, buy a cheap matching set and throw or store the rest. Clean your fridge and make sure it smells great, remove all the out of date items from your cupboards. You can always box up cupboard food items and put them in your car temporarily to create the illusion of more space.
The less you have in a room, the bigger that room appears.
If you went to a hotel and saw toothpaste on the side of the sink, you’d complain. You want your house to have hotel levels of cleanliness. This is operation deep clean. Shampoo the carpets, change the bedding, vacuum soft furnishings, mop and disinfect floors, wipe down the skirting boards and so on.
Wash your windows inside and out. If you can’t reach your outside windows, pay for a window cleaner to give them a good clean prior to the photos being taken and on the viewing day.
Dress your rooms
Now you’ve decluttered you need to add touches in the right way. Decluttering too much can leave the property looking bare. Having the right accents makes the property look lived in and inviting.
In the bedroom have fresh linen and nice cushions, maybe have a book next to some reading glasses on the bedside table.
In the bathrooms, add lovely fluffy towels, or dressing gowns. Add some nice scented hand soaps. Clean the mirror, if you don’t have a mirror add one, it will make your bathroom look bigger. If you have a shower curtain that is mouldy replace it with something light and bright, and have it pulled back.
If you have a dining room, set the table as though you were expecting guests. Add some fresh flowers and a pot of brewing fresh coffee in the kitchen. You want buyers to imagine themselves living in your home, perhaps sitting for dinner with their family and friends.
Make sure there is a clear flow from room to room, and that furniture doesn’t dominate. Pulling furniture away from the wall can make the space look roomier. Having symmetrical furniture arrangements help give the impression of a clear ordered space.
If your property has traditional features. Make sure they are highlighted and visible to buyers. Even if it’s just mentioning them at the viewing. A lot of buyers look for high ceilings, traditional fireplaces, sash windows etc. Anything that could be classed as a period feature should be included in the description of your listing, and either made prominent through décor, or pointed out to the viewer once they are inside the property.
Rooms Need to Have A Purpose
Make sure that the purpose of each room is communicated well. If you have a spare room that you just use for storage, empty it and give it life. Think about your buyer. If they are young professionals maybe turn it into a small office; if it’s going to be a family home perhaps a nursery; if it’s going to appeal to an older couple how about a reading room or craft space.
People need to see themselves in each room. An empty room is much harder to visualise.
Colour isn’t a sin
We know the trend of magnolia walls and white woodwork has been given as the go-to décor for selling a house. We’d argue that this is quite depressing to be honest. Don’t be afraid of injecting colour, as long as it is done right. Feature walls in traditional colours can lift a room, particularly if that colour is carried through in accents like cushions, candles, the odd piece of artwork. However, busy wallpaper will make a space look smaller.
Bright and Welcoming
Ensure all your lights have new bulbs. Higher watt bulbs cast more light and give a sense of space. Lower watt bulbs can give a cosy feel. It depends on the room and what impression you want to give. In any event, make sure that all bulbs are the same colour tone, otherwise you will have competing shades of white, which just looks wrong to the eye.
If you live next to a busy road, or some other source of frequent noise, don’t be afraid of having music on in the background. Think classical and easy listening, not thrash metal. A source of music will draw the ear to that rather than the external sound.
Finish your projects
Do you have a room you’re redecorating? Is there an IKEA wardrobe half built? Have you started glossing your woodwork, but not finished some rooms. Get all your projects finished. You don’t want a prospective buyer to think they will have to do some work when they buy your property. They need to feel they can move into your property and simply put their feet up and have a nice brew once they’ve unpacked. Obviously, there are occasions where properties need fully modernising, but they attract different kinds of buyers who will see the opportunity, and the property will be priced to reflect the additional work involved.
To show your house in the best possible way takes work. It’s an investment of time, effort and sometimes an amount of money (particularly if you are storing items). However, it is all worth it. The better your house looks the more interested parties there will be, leading to an increase in competition, leading to better offers. A well-presented house will sell quicker as a rule. The quicker you sell your property the more likely you are to get a higher offer. If your house stays on the market beyond the initial ten days, the harder it is to sell. Get it right before it goes to market. Get it right ready for the Property Launch event. Do it right, do it once, and get the selling experience of your dreams.