By Phil Karp, guest contributor
It's no secret that a properly staged home can sell faster than an empty one. But how far do you need to go to inspire the "chocolate chip cookie effect," where a buyer walks in the front door and immediately feels right at home? Sellers often look to their agent for home staging advice, which can be based on initial impressions and feedback from early showings.
Here are five tips for effectively staging a home before the next potential buyer walks in the door.
1. Create a Welcoming Entry Way
When it comes to selling a home, the importance of curb appeal can't be stressed enough. Buyers need to fall in love at first sight — which happens around the time they pull up to the front of a property. For sellers who need to spruce up their yard, recommend inexpensive outdoor projects like a garage door replacement or an exterior power wash.
2. Enlist All Five Senses
Rather than focusing solely on how a home looks, give buyers a multisensory experience. Smells like fresh-baked cookies or scented candles can help create a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. Calming music can also help to set the proper mood for open-house tours.
3. Encourage Decluttering
When a buyer walks into a home, they need to believe in the possibility that this house could belong to them. Seeing personal articles like photographs, kids' artwork, or pet toys can detract from the appearance of a home that's ready for move-in. Any loose papers and other stray items should be removed from countertops and tables to avoid distraction.
4. Turn on the Lights
To avoid a dark and dingy look, be sure to maximize the use of available lighting. Open curtains for natural light and turn on overhead lights in every room. If further accent light is needed, consider bringing LED candles or portable lights to showings.
5. Keep It Natural (and Neutral)
Neutral colors are still a favorite of house hunters looking to add their own style to a home's decor. If you decide to add accessories for staging purposes, go for neutral accents such as throw rugs, shower curtains and towels or linens. If sellers are willing, replace window treatments or repaint rooms with dated color schemes. Natural touches like flowers and plants can also add a breath of fresh air to a home.
Home staging can range from simple decorative touches to repainting rooms or removing furniture. As buyers move through the house, they should have a clean, consistent experience designed to show off the home's best features and make them want to move in immediately.