Friends, we are in full-on house selling / moving mode over here, and I have to admit-- it's kind of craziness! Selling a house is seriously no joke. One of the things I thought I would for sure have under control is preparing and staging our house to be shown. I mean, I kind of decorate our house for a living, right?! But I've definitely learned a lot through the process of multiple showings, and since today is my 32nd birthday, I thought I would share 32 things I did to get our house ready to sell.
There were several things we did before we even called in the real estate agent to make sure that the house would show well and hopefully sell quickly!
1. Decluttered the entire house
I am a major declutter-er on a normal basis, so our stuff was already fairly uncluttered, but we still took a Saturday to comb through the house from top to bottom and get rid of anything we didn't need anymore. We figured the less stuff we had while trying to keep our house clean for showings (and eventually for a move), the better.
2. Brought in a cleaning crew
I finally caved and brought in outside help for cleaning, and it has been a life saver! They came in and did a super thorough deep clean before our house went on the market, and they've been coming every other week for maintenance. It makes it so much easier for me to keep everything clean and neat in between their visits!
3. Had the carpets cleaned
I have rented a carpet cleaning machine and done the carpets myself before, but this time we had a company come in and do it, and the results were incredible. At one point I thought we may have to replace the carpet in the Cs' room before we sold (because little boys are messy!), but once the carpet cleaning people had done their thing, it looked as good as new!
4. Touched up paint
We have repainted the entire interior of our house in the past two years, so the paint was in fairly good shape, but there were still some scuff marks here and there that I went around and painted over. Be sure to check exterior spaces as well-- I ended up re-painting the outside doors to our deck because the paint was chipped and worn in places.
5. Fixed broken items
There were a few small things-- like a front door handle that stuck-- that we took the time to fix to give a better overall impression of the house.
6. Added missing finishes
You know how sometimes you do a project and those little final touches just never seem to get done? We definitely had a few of those. We added a few missing transition pieces to our flooring and fixed up some moldings here and there.
7. Weeded and landscaped outdoor areas
We live in a townhouse so most of the outdoor space is taken care of for us, but there are a few small areas that we weeded, mulched, and added some flowers to in order to spruce up the curb appeal and make a good first impression.
Decorating & Staging
Needless to say, this was my favorite part! We have re-done just about every space in this house since we have lived here, but I made some tweaks and changes to make our spaces more buyer-friendly.
Thankfully, I'm a neutral paint girl to begin with, so we didn't have to totally repaint every room, but I did change out some of our pillows, throws, and rugs to make things a little more neutral, calm-feeling, and easy for the eyes to take in.
9. Eliminated busy-ness
Doing this actually made me realize how much visual clutter stresses me out! I took down some busy gallery walls and replaced them with simpler pieces. I got rid of a busy patterned rug in our living space. Basically, I just tried to simplify any area that was feeling like it had too much "stuff."
10. Made each space look as large as possible
Our house is small, friends! It needed all the help it could get to look as large as possible, so I was sure to leave a lot of open space, minimize furniture, and arrange the furniture that was left to make the area look as big and open.
11. Created consistency in feel and color scheme throughout the house
This was actually one of the first things that our real estate agent commented on when she walked through for the first time. Since all of the paint colors, flooring choices, and finishes felt cohesive and like they belonged in the same house, potential buyers would feel like they could just bring in their furniture, plop it down, and be ready to go without much work at all.
12. Gave each space a defined purpose
Our house has a few wide open areas. For example, the entry flows right into the kitchen and the dining room and living room are all one big space. I tried to use furniture placement and pieces on the walls to clearly define each space so that new owners could see potential for layouts that would meet their own needs.
13. Added plants-- faux and real
I emphasized the faux a little more than the real since I tend to have a black thumb, but I think living(ish) elements help freshen up a space and make it visually pleasing.
14. Staged simply
Usually when I'm setting up a room for myself, I like to style shelves and surfaces with conversation pieces and interesting items. When getting our house ready to show, though, I used only a few pieces to try to make the spaces look as uncluttered as possible while still feeling polished and complete.
15. Used trays for easy staging
Trays were a lifesaver! For example, I had one on the coffee table with a pretty bottle and a faux floral arrangement that I could leave out for showings and easily put up on a toy shelf when we needed the coffee table for playing games, building legos (life with boys!), etc.
16. Had clean white towels in bathrooms
I thought using white towels made the bathrooms look clean and fresh and a little bit hotel-like. 🙂
17. Depersonalized-- somewhat
One of the first things I feel like I always read when I am looking at articles about selling a house is to take down ALL family pictures. I asked our real estate agent about this, and she said if I had them everywhere, yes, take many of them down. But since I just had three photos of us hanging in a gallery wall in the dining room along with other signs and decorative pieces, she said it was fine to leave them, and that's what I did.
18. Made kids' toys look as clean and neat as possible
Toys. My nemesis. Lol. I purge our toys on a regular basis, but before we put our house up for sale, I did a few extra things to make them look neat and tidy. I put many of my kids' board games in plastic bins because the original boxes were falling apart and looked messy. I stored some of the larger toys down in the garage so that the living room could look bigger and less cluttered. I bagged up and stored the Cs' beloved Lego sets that they had built so they could still enjoy them in the future but so they wouldn't be cluttering up the toy area in our house.
19. Had professional photos taken
I looked at a lot of real estate listings before our house went on the market, and most of the photos were pretty bad. I was planning on taking our photos myself, but our real estate agent uses a professional photographer for all of her listings, so I knew the photos would turn out well.
Finally, there were several things I did before each showing to make the house look as good as possible! (Why has no one ever told me how time consuming it is to stage a house for showings? It takes forever!)
20. Cleared off surfaces
I took all of the stuff off of our kitchen and bathroom counters and removed almost everything from the tops of dressers, nightstands, and desks to make spaces look uncluttered and as large as possible.
21. Created a space for everything
Because there were some things that we used on a regular basis (like our toaster and cooking utensils) that would need to be put away for every showing, I created designated spots for them so they could be stored away easily without making a big mess. This also...
22. Kept all cabinets, drawers, and closets neat and tidy
I figured that every space in my house was fair game for people to look through when they were checking out our house, so I tried to make sure every cabinet, drawer, and closet they could possibly peek into was clean and neat.
23. Kept beds as easy to make as possible
Our bed was easy, but do you know how hard it is to make bunk beds (especially the top bunk!) look tidy?! So that I wouldn't have to climb up and down and mess with their bedding every single time, I actually had the Cs sleep on top of their main comforter and sheets and gave them blankets to sleep under that I could easily fold up and stick under our bed for showings.
24. Kept up with the dishes
We tried to be super diligent with the dishes so that the sink and dishwasher would both be empty for showings.
25. Kept up with the laundry
I also did laundry frequently so that it was folded neatly in our drawers rather than in hampers or in the washer and dryer.
26. Wiped down counters daily
I wiped down all of the counters in our kitchen and bathrooms every day so they would be ready if we got a call for a showing.
27. Swept/vacuumed daily
I also swept and vacuumed often so our floors were always sparkling clean.
28. Cleaned bathroom mirrors daily
What is it with kids and bathroom mirrors?! I never noticed until we were selling our house that they manage to get finger prints or toothpaste on the mirrors every single day!
29. Kept a laundry basket handy for "extras."
I learned this trick from a few friends of mine who have sold their homes recently. Sometimes we needed to get out of the house quickly for a showing, so I kept a laundry basket handy and loaded up any projects or paperwork that was laying around that couldn't be put away easily or anything that looked out of place. I then put the laundry basket in the trunk of my car as we left for the showing.
30. Opened all curtains and blinds.
We went through and opened all curtains and blinds before we left the house for a showing so that rooms looked as light, bright, and spacious as possible.
31. Turned on all lights.
We also turned on the lights for the same reasons. (I wonder how high our electric bill will be this month... 😉 )
32. Left house in "show condition" any time we left for an extended period of time.
And finally, there were a few instances where we were leaving for a weekend or even for just a full day, and we were sure to leave the house show ready in these instances in case someone would call last minute and want to see it.
Whew! That's a lot! No wonder I feel like I haven't been getting anything done lately-- I've spent the whole time staging our house! 🙂 If you're looking to sell your house soon, I hope these tips will be helpful when you're getting it ready to show. Selling a house can be a stressful experience, but it was also fun for me to see all of our hard work pay off when our house was neat and tidy and looking its best!
What tips and tricks would you add to my list? Share them in the comments!
Have a wonderful day!