There are no do-overs with first impressions. And that's exactly why first encounters are so important; they set the tone of the relationship and any following meetings that might happen thereafter. First impressions influence one's thoughts, emotions, conscience, etc. So it comes as no wonder that many home sellers stage their property, with the sole purpose of making a positive first impression on potential buyers. In this blog we're going to share our top 7 cost-effective staging tips (it's an odd number but we didn't feel like rounding it up or down just for the sake of it) on how to make a strong first impression.
A quick note: this blog focuses on the bare essentials of staging, the must-dos to make a good impression without breaking the bank. In a future blog post, we'll deal with staging tips that cost a bit more but are definitely worth consideration.
#1. Keep it Mr. Clean Clean
Probably one of the easiest and most impactful ways you can create a great first impression when showing your home is to show a living space that is spotlessly clean, something your mother would be proud of. Ask yourself: Is every room neat and tidy? Are the carpets cleaned, floors waxed, walls unmarked, furniture, heating and A/C vents dusted? You want to give special attention to your bathroom and kitchen areas, as these spaces are often the hardest to keep spotless (think mildew and marked-up backsplashes/stove tops). Visitors will notice an especially immaculate kitchen and bathroom, making it two specific areas for you to shine above the rest.
#2. Say No to Clutter
Right up there with keeping things clean is keeping your home uncluttered and pared down. Tackle each room separately, looking for opportunities to put away unnecessary items including small appliances. You might be able to get rid of some excess furniture as well, creating more space for visitors to walk around freely and imagine themselves (with their own furniture) in your home. Tip: if you're a collector of sorts and have a ton of knick-knacks lying around, think about having a garage sale.
Related to decluttering, but important enough to deserve a tip of its own, is to depersonalize your house by removing any and all personal items. This includes removing things like family photos (think refrigerator front door), sport trophies, souvenirs, momentous and replacing these items with well-chosen pieces of art, paintings, landscape scenes, modern shapes etc. The purpose of this is to welcome a potential buyer into a space where they can easily envision themselves living in. It becomes challenging to do that if your home is inundated with family pictures on every wall. You don't have to spend a ton on artwork either; IKEA, Bed, Bath & Beyond are just a few examples of stores that sell relatively inexpensive but eye-appealing artwork.
#4. Upgrade Toiletries
One of the least expensive ways to dramatically improve the look of your bathroom is to upgrade the toiletries. Replace any mismatched and worn-out towels with neutral linens (white or grey are top choices). A new and fresh shower curtain goes a long way, instantly improving the look of your bathroom without having to spend much. Adding candles, special soaps and even a plant or two can also do a lot to make your bathroom an inviting place.
#5. Be Mindful of Odours
Do you know how your own home smells? Likely not, since we often get accustomed to our smells and odours. So invite a friend over and ask them for their frank opinion. Strong odours can ruin a potential sale, so it's important to pay attention to things like pets, cooking and cigarette smells. Make sure your home is fresh (open those windows) and not only looks clean but also smells it. Lightly scented candles and/or baked cookies on the showing day can go a long way.
#6. Prepare for the Big Day
One of the most important things you can do is to bring your 'A Game' on the showing day. Tidy up all the rooms (for the bathroom, get things like shampoo bottles out of sight), make the beds and put the laundry away, make sure countertops are clean and decluttered, dishwasher emptied, fridge organized etc. Have fresh flowers displayed, perhaps a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. Make sure all lights are on, and all doors in your home open. You get one chance, so take your time making sure your home shows its absolute best.
#7. Leave the Home
So you've applied tips #1 - #6, now what? This last tip is the easiest: leave the home during the showing. This puts the potential buyer at ease, giving them space and time to form a connection with their potential new home without feeling that someone is looking over their shoulder.