It’s a basic fact: Make it easy for buyers to see themselves in your home, and you make it easy for them to make you an offer. The thing that encourages this feeling could be called the secret to the home-selling process: staging. Effective staging should showcase your home’s strengths by opening up the rooms with strategic furniture and décor placement. It uses proper maintenance and appealing aesthetics to woo buyers. Here’s how:
1. Focus on Firsts: First impressions, that is. You only get one chance to make an impression, so the exterior of your home (what buyers see first) matters. Manicure the lawn, trim hedges, plant colorful flowers. Make sure anything that needs to be repaired receives attention. Aim to greet first-time visitors with a WOW factor.

2. Clean: Concentrate on the main living areas and the focal points of the home, the spots that guests are most likely to see. Ideally, you’ll want to work thoroughly through this step, getting into every nook and cranny of your residence. However, if you’re crunched for time, don’t worry so much about the less noticeable places.

3. Declutter: Especially in high-traffic areas like hallways, remove every bit of unnecessary stuff. Whether this means selling, putting things away in storage or giving donations to Goodwill, it’s time. Once your home sells, you’ll be moving anyway, so it makes sense.

4. Depersonalize: The point is not to make your home look sterile and stripped of character, but to make it neutral and inviting so a wide variety of potential buyers can envision themselves living there.

5. Draw in Sunlight: There’s nothing better than natural light. Open curtains, remove anything blocking windows and allow as much natural light into each room as possible. Bright spaces will appear larger, not to mention more aesthetically pleasing.

6. Add Strategic Lighting: Direct your lighting to highlight key pieces, such as the fireplace, built-ins or the dining area! Recessed lighting and dimmers can adjust to complement any kind of daylight, and track lighting can focus in on specific areas of a room. Every light should be deliberately placed to lead the eye toward a different part of the room.

7. Create Groupings: From a couch and two chairs to a loveseat with a side table and an accent piece, individual groupings, sometimes called scenes, are sectioned areas that draw the eye and create the illusion of space.

8. Think about Details: Take simple steps to increase the interior appeal by throwing a soft, colorful (not gaudy) blanket over a piece of furniture; adding an accent piece in an area you want to focus on; add scented soaps to each of the bathrooms; make sure that your laundry machines, the dishwasher, or other loud appliances aren’t running while visitors are in your home. The key is not to mask your home’s weaknesses, but to enhance its strengths. You are staging your home for an important date; make sure it is staged to perfection!

9. Add Visual Interest to Rooms: This previous Buy Owner Blog article offers some great tips for maintaining visual interest. Examine your rooms with a fresh perspective and ask yourself what a new buyer would see. Use decorating accents to draw buyers towards selling points: the fireplace, the gleaming hardwood floors, the elegant crown molding.

10. Get a Fresh Perspective: Ask a friend to come over and look at the way you’ve reorganized things. Ask him or her to imagine being a prospective buyer and see if this gives you a new way of looking at your rooms.

11. Appeal to the Senses: On the day of a showing, try to appeal to all five of a buyer’s senses. Visually, your home needs to be clean, well-decorated and arranged. But also, it should smell good (see this Buy Owner article for tips) and feel good (let buyers enter rooms before you do to maximize the sense of space). Putting out fresh coffee and cookies takes care of taste, and you might choose to have soft music playing in the background to complete the mood.

12. Spruce up the Backyard: Backyards have become a big selling point for people looking to purchase a home.

The ultimate principle to remember in home staging is simple: Get buyers to see themselves (not you) living in your home. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a great showing!