Selling your first home is nerve-wracking. You love it because it’s your house, but will someone else?
Designing your home so someone else can see themselves living in it is key to selling your house. I specifically say selling your house because at the point of sale, it should be a house – not a home. The house should be intentionally set to maximize it’s potential for sale, which means it’s no longer your home, it’s an investment you’re unloading.
The goal is for someone to walk into your home and be swept of their feet by the look, feel and potential to make it their own. It should have enough of a design to demonstrate the purpose of the room and use of space; however, there should be plenty of room for a buyer to visualize their belongings in it. I followed these four tips to stage our house, and we were fortunate to sell in 24 hours.
1. Determine the purpose of each room
How you live in the space and what’s it’s truly intended for are often two different things. Each room should have one main purpose and that purpose should be very clear through your design. I recommend walking the space and writing down the purpose of each room. Then, you can re-walk the space and see if your design brings the purpose to life.
For example, I loved the light in our family room in our Lincoln Park home so I relocated my desk to that room in a nook behind the couch. However, for the sale, I removed the desk. For this example the rationale is if a buyer sees a desk in your living room it can (1) cue that the home doesn’t have enough space for an office or (2) confuse them as to the purpose of the room. The rooms intended purpose is to be a family room where you gather to socialize or relax. Given that, I replaced the desk with a bar to cue socialization. Then, I created a spacious home office in one of our bedrooms.
Know that it’s also OK to change the purpose of a room and stage it accordingly for the sale. For example, we used our third bedroom as a ‘workout space,’ but for our home sale, we removed all workout equipment and created an office.
2. Maximize the flow of each room
It’s ideal to showcase clear pathways in the room as well as make the room look as large as possible. First, ensure there are clear pathways to walk from one room to the next. Can you easily maneuver around the couch? Is it easy to enter and exit each room?
Second, assess the amount of furniture in each room and the size of it. Limit the amount of furniture you have in each room so it looks spacious versus cluttered. If you need to remove furniture, there are inexpensive moving services like TaskRabbit and storage services like PODS.
Third, rearrange the furniture to maximize the size of the room. The largest piece of furniture is often the focal point. Find the focal point of the room and place the largest piece there. Then, find a complementary location for the next largest piece of furniture to balance the room. Keep pathways clear so it feels open and airy.
3. Simplify & neutralize
Once the furniture is properly placed, you’re ready to review your decor. First, think through how people view homes today. Homes are first viewed online through imagery. Knowing that, you’ll want images that are pleasing to the eye and cohesive. Gray / blue / brown color palettes are popular today as our simple black & white palettes. If possible, emphasize decor in one of those color palettes to create a cohesive room.
Second, determine if you need to paint a room to neutralize or freshen the room. Spending a few hundred dollars in paint can offer thousands of dollars in return when you sell.
Lastly, find decor to complement the colors in the room and tie it all together.
4. Collaborate with your real estate agent
Having a strong real estate agent is key to a seamless sale. They’re the expert in knowing what’s trending in the market today and what will help your home sell quickly. Remember, the faster you sell your home, the faster everyone is able to (hopefully) collect a profit.
I recommend prepping your home as best as possible by following steps one through three, and then walking the home with your agent. Ask the agent to give you their opinion of the best way to make tweaks for proper staging.
A few agent recommendations:
We recently sold our home with Brooke Vanderbock in Chicago. She made our selling experience better than I ever could have envisioned. She’s thorough, thoughtful and well-versed in her practice and truly makes a complicated process easy to understand. I trust her explicitly.
If you’re in the Chicago Suburbs, I highly recommend Danielle Addante-Roginski. Based out of the Northwest Suburbs, Danielle is incredibly hard-working, positive and diligent. She’s quick and a fantastic, creative problem solver. Furthermore, she grew up in the area and knows it very well.
If you’re making the leap from city to suburbs (or vice versa), an agent who knows both areas can be super helpful. Tessi Davis is based in Chicago and the North suburbs. With a high variety of homes, she’s an excellent resource for better understanding your options.
No matter what you decide, interviewing several agents is key to understand who you trust with the sale of your home.
5. Solve for any off-putting elements in your home
Ask your real estate agent, ‘What could hold us back from a fast sale?’ For example, when we sold our vintage Chicago home in Lincoln Park, it was fully updated by was covered in the dark walnut, vintage trim. If you have an appreciation for this look, it’s stunning. However, white is what’s on trend now so I was concerned our walnut trim may hold us back. Our agent, Brooke Vanderbok, had a fantastic idea to mock up what the trim would look like if it were white in case a buyer was interested in painting it.
Knowing the potential drawbacks to your home and creatively solving for them with either prepared answers or mocked-up photos is key to keeping the potential buying pool big.
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.