Guest Submission: Alice Robertson
It’s tricky to sell a home while you’re still residing in it. You need to have access to your belongings and feel comfortable, but you also need to design and stage the home to afford potential buyers the opportunity to envision themselves living there. In order to make it work, you’ll need to be creative in the ways you stage, declutter, and depersonalize the home. Let’s discuss three practical ways you can strike the perfect balance without spending a fortune.
Some buyers appreciate empty spaces, but most need help imagining things like where they would place furniture and how their favorite artwork would look on the wall. If you already moved out or were trying to sell a new home, you would be working with a blank canvas and have to rent furniture. Luckily, while you’re still living in the house, you can use your belongings to stage and don’t need to hire a professional stager. You may already have your house optimally set up, or you may benefit from some changes, such as mowing your lawn, planting new flowers, and opening the curtains to let in natural light,
You can get ideas by researching other homes to see how they compare to your home. Search online to view pictures of local listings that are similar in price, style, and acreage to your home. See how the other homes are staged and how other sellers are approaching decluttering and depersonalizing, and perhaps attend open houses to get a feel for what it’s like for a buyer to walk through potential homes.
Unless you intentionally practice a minimalist lifestyle and spend hours a week combating clutter, you likely face the occasional mess in your home. One of the biggest obstacles sellers face is decluttering (toys all over the floor, papers on counters and tables, excess books on bookshelves, filled-to-the-brim closets, etc.). Not only do you need to reduce the clutter, but so long as the house is on the market you also need to prevent it from coming back.
Below are some easy and inexpensive ways to combat clutter:
- Collect all papers lying about the house, digitize them, and then toss them. Place a decorative bin somewhere visible so that, at the end of each day, you can go through the papers and sort them as necessary.
- If you have children, give them one decorative bin or basket to fill with their favorite toys. If they have too many toys, have them select some to give away to children in need, and store the rest away until after you move.
- Go through each closet choosing what to keep, toss or donate. Then, separate your clothes by season, and store away what is not currently being used.
- Since too much furniture can make a room look cluttered, ask a family member or friend to store pieces until your home sells. If need be, rent a low-cost storage unit.
- Go through all your drawers and cabinets, and throw away outdated and unused products. Especially in bathrooms and kitchens, buyers will want to take a look at the storage space to see if it will fit their needs. If everything is filled to the brim, they won’t be able to see the potential.
Buyers need to be able to see themselves living in the home. If there are design tastes that are not neutral or family pictures everywhere, that could present a barrier to a potential buyer. While staging and decluttering, you will want to make your home universally appealing (i.e., staged model home or hotel). Be sure to pack up pictures and personal memorabilia. Also, paint the walls neutral colors, and remove any decorations that would not appeal to most people.
Living in a home that you’re trying to sell comes with its challenges, but you can take practical steps to make the home look picture-perfect. Remember to stage the home to look lived-in, but get rid of any unnecessary clutter. Also, make sure there are not a lot of personal items displayed, and stick with neutral paint colors and simple decor. In no time, your home will be ready to impress in showings and open houses.