The things that make our homes feel like our own are the very things that can turn potential buyers off. Innocent clutter such as family snapshots, grocery lists, or a pile of magazines can make your home look smaller and messier than it is and distract home buyers from what you really want them to be focused on: imagining your homes as a place for them.

Clean doesn’t mean empty. A cluttered home can look messy, but an empty home can feel cold and uninviting. This is where staging comes in. Staging is the art of highlighting the layout and available space in your home, showing off its best features, and ultimately making it easy for a home buyer to see themselves living there.

Start by going on a “walk-through” with your Realtor – they can help point out what needs to be updated, cleaned, fixed, replaced, or removed. They can also recommend professional staging services if that’s the direction you decide to take.

Create Curb Appeal

Your home should look inviting and accessible and that starts with the first impression it makes on potential home buyers. From the moment a buyer pulls up to your home, they will already be forming an opinion about it based on your home’s curb appeal. The way your home looks on the outside is a big factor in generating buyer interest – most people figure that a home that is well-maintained and inviting on the outside will likely be in good shape and clean on the inside, and worth checking out. Conversely, a home that is looks messy or run down on the outside might turn buyers off before they even have a chance to go inside.

Creating curb appeal is relatively straightforward, though it does take effort. Here are the basics:

  • Mow your lawn, trim or prune trees and bushes, weed the garden.
  • Make sure the front porch, driveway, sidewalk etc. are clear, swept and uncluttered.
  • Put away kids’ toys or any other items that are not decorative.
  • Replace or paint peeling front doors or mailboxes.
  • Consider investing in some colorful flowers or window boxes, and a new welcome mat.

Organize Your Belongings

One easy way to spruce up your home is by getting rid of clutter to make your home look better and bigger. Create a clear path for potential homebuyers to walk through your home. Arrange furniture so it’s easy to maneuver around and place items in storage while you’re showing your house.

Since you’re planning on moving, it’s a great time to go through your belongings, sort what you really need and what you’re ready to part with, and donate or purge to leave your home with the essentials. It will this make your move easier and give your home a neat and organized appearance, leaving the buyer space to imagine themselves as the new owners.

Get rid of things you don’t need or that are taking up too much space. De-cluttering includes finding homes for the things you have lying around and putting those items where they belong. Organize the shelves in your home and make sure there’s not too much on them. Put away appliances and anything that can place out of sight to leave clear counters and surfaces. Check your home for personal items – a few pieces of tasteful art can contribute to your home’s appeal, but put away the family photos and children’s artwork for now. Go through your bathrooms and bedrooms, clearing the sink areas, nightstands, closets, etc. A clean, streamlined and de-cluttered home will contribute to making your home an attractive one for potential buyers.

Keep it Clean and Maintained

You’ll want to deep-clean your home and take care of any minor repairs or upgrades to increase your home’s appeal and value. Stay on top of your normal cleaning routine and make extra time to give a little attention to those spots we forget about: window sills, dusty blinds or baseboards, old carpet or wood stains, a messy stovetop, etc. Clean out your vents and open your windows to air out the house, especially if you have any lingering smoke or pet odors.

Color plays a big part in a home’s appearance. If possible, consider painting interior walls a neutral color such as beige; it will help potential buyers better imagine themselves as owners. Keep hardwood floors gleaming and polished, and paint baseboards white. If you do use a bright shade as an accent color, create a theme that uses the same color throughout your home. Fix any leaky faucets, chipped tiles, or any other minor problems that a buyer might notice. Updating light fixtures, opening blinds to let in plenty of natural light, and placing an arrangement of fresh flowers on the table are other simple ways to make your home shine.

Target Your Buyer

Ask your Realtor whom they see as the target buyer for your property. Is yours a family home with plenty of bedrooms, a playroom, and a big backyard? Or is it more like to appeal to young singles or empty nesters?

If you’re trying to attract families, consider furnishing a spare room as a playroom rather than a home office or guest room. Use bright-colored area rugs, a toy chest, and simple furnishings. Singles or couples might appreciate that extra office or guest room.

If staging your home sounds like a lot of work and expense, remember that prospective buyers are much more likely to form a positive opinion of a clean, neat, modern home and thus more likely to make an attractive offer.