I’m pretty strict on my clients when it comes to staging and house prep. In fact, most clients are shocked at the list of “To-Do’s” I give them to complete prior to photos. Look, selling your home is not meant to be fun, nor comfortable. In fact, as your Realtor®, I want as little evidence that people live in it as possible. So, when I ask clients to take down personal photos, it’s not because they don’t have a beautiful family or that the quality of the photography or print is bad. It’s because I need buyers to be able to walk through and imagine themselves living in the house, not the current owners!

We’ve all seen homes that are properly staged and homes that aren’t. The homes that aren’t staged have a ton of personal items lying around, making a buyer feel like they are definitely in someone else’s space. The last thing I want a buyer to feel when they walk into a potential home is that they are invading in some way, shape or form. Leaving personal items sitting out will do just that.

A quick note on home staging. Staging is not about decorating. It’s about showcasing the square footage and the finishes. So, floating a couch in the middle of the room might work great from a decorator’s perspective, but when it comes to making a room look as large as possible, a giant piece of furniture in the middle of a room may not accomplish that. Same goes for rugs. If you have gorgeous hardwood floors, I don’t necessarily want an 8×10 rug covering them, no matter how expensive the rug is.

Working with a Realtor® who is willing to take the time to help you stage (few do), or hiring a professional Home Stager will guarantee that you put your best foot forward, but let’s throw you a bone, shall we? Below is a list of items that will hurt your home sale & that should be avoided when prepping your house to hit the market. This list will in no way replace what a professional can provide, but it will give you a head start so that there’s less to do when us pros show up!

1. Personal photos – All should come down. This includes professional photography. You want buyers to be able to imagine that this is their home, not yours.

2. Cluttered countertops– This includes bathrooms & kitchens. I once had a client leave his nose hair trimmer on the bathroom counter. I had to tell him more than once to put it away and every time, he acted like I was asking him to do the impossible. I appreciated that he trimmed, but I didn’t really need to know about it. I’m assuming you know better than to leave retainers or nose hair trimmers out. Once you are on the market, you should get into the habit of putting away your toothbrush daily. In the kitchen, the fewer items on the counters, the greater the illusion of counter space. A great way to do this is to take everything off and select 2-3 necessary items to go back. Everything else can be stored.

3. Raised toilet seats– learn to put them down. I shouldn’t have to elaborate on this.

4. Bath mats and kitchen mats– up for photos, and showings if you remember. Remember, we are showcasing finishes, not decor. (If your kitchen floors are hideous, there may be an exception to the rule…)

5. King-size furniture in a queen-size room – If you’ve made the mistake of not measuring for furniture before buying and are now stuck with a headboard, footboard, armoire, chest, dresser, etc, you’re going to need to rent a storage unit, or sell the pieces. Nothing makes a room look tinier than giant furniture. If you can remove the footboard, do it. My advice would be to store the bed & one piece of furniture, and borrow a smaller bed from a friend or family member until the house sells. There’s a reason storage facilities exist…

6. The beloved recliner – This is one is a touchy subject, I know. Bottom line: Do you want to sell your house, or watch TV? I’m not giving you permission to do both. If the recliner looks like it jumped out of 1980, it’s got to go. Sorry, not sorry.

7. Children’s toys in living spaces, kitchens & master bathrooms – Learn to confine them to bedrooms & play rooms. While buyers may understand toys in some rooms, let’s bring our A-game, shall we?

8. Underwear – I really shouldn’t have to go here. Don’t leave them out, clean or dirty, K? I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve shown where a bra is hanging on a door, or several bras in a bathroom, drying. Those images live with buyers forever. They are burned into their brains! Don’t make the home buying experience any more traumatizing than it already is!

9. Dead plants– Get rid of them. Pull them up, throw them out. Your house should look vibrant and lively, not where greenery goes to die.

10. And last, because I felt like ten items was a good number to end on: Anything that is worn or needs replacing. This includes stained furniture (yuck), torn rugs, damaged grill covers (buy a new one!), old and rusty patio furniture, faded welcome mats. If you don’t take care of the items in your home, buyers will begin to wonder if you take care of the home itself. If something needs replacing, stop putting it off until you “get the new house.” Just take care of it. Procrastinator shouldn’t be a word that defines you. Make your list of Fix-It’s and get them done/replaced!

Those of you in and around the Birmingham, AL area who are looking for further information on selling your home, can contact us at: 205-223-9576 or email me at tamihallman@gmail.com

Happy Selling!

**Photo credit: Bham Tours