"You got the job. Can you start at our Richmond office in four weeks?"
These were the words that energized, scared and excited us all at the same time. When we realized that the big move from South Carolina to Richmond was actually happening, the second biggest thing we realized is that we have to sell our home.
I spent one and a half years making this house a home. And while that's not long, it was sure hard to undo and let go. But I coped by making my job to sell the house. I posted a brief photo and description on social media one morning, had four showings that night and then had an offer by Wednesday morning. We've since accepted that offer, closed on the house and are happily living in Virginia.
So here's my "not so professional" tips on how to do this yourself. I owe it all to styling and staging.
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Young professionals were our audience. And in the South there is a rustic/chic vibe that's goin' strong. Colorful, natural elements and a touch of shine all are essential to this design. Luckily, I share this design aesthetic with my age group. Tweed, bulky pieces, or even the mod '60s look that's in right now would not have made the cut.
There's a lot that accumulates into a home whether you've been there one year or ten. Declutter. Pull out the trash bags, get ready to visit Goodwill and find a place like Plato's Closet. We also packed about 20 boxes of extra linens, papers, sheets, seasonal clothes, dog toys, kitchen gadgets, crafts, tools, etc. and stored them far, far away (thanks Nana and Papa). Essentially, open every closet and drawer in your home, even on furniture you own and make it look like Martha Stewart organized it that morning.
You look beautiful in your wedding picture and that college bikini bod is great, but take it down and also put it far, far away. When people see you in your home they don't see themselves, they feel like guests. Go to Homegoods or Ikea, buy a picture of a city scape or animal and hang it on your wall.
4. MAKE A UNIVERSAL HOME
That extra guest bed that is a man room/office or anything in between, make it more universal. Make sure that your potential buyers can see it as a bedroom. Show off the closet, bathroom and even put an Ikea futon in there so they can see someone can lounge or sleep there. Then sell the futon on Craigslist for the price you bought it for (true story).
5. CURB APPEAL
Take at least $500 and put it toward landscaping. It changes everything. You want your buyers to pull up and say OMG, WBL (oh my gosh, what a beautiful lawn).
Duh. Makes sense, right? But first, hire a professional and have them do the deepest clean your house has ever received. I'm talking baseboards, oven and all. It's worth the money, trust me. Then just maintain after that.
7. SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Yes seriously, sweat it. Dial soap is not okay. Towels handed down from Mom or brought from college are also not okay. Go to TJ Maxx, spend $50 on soap, lemon scented candles, new hand towels and fresh 2x3' rugs.
Set the mood. Ceiling lights aren't flattering. Turn on floor and table lamps or invest in dimmers to turn it down a notch. Light a candle or two (don't put one in every room, looks like you're hiding a stinky). Open every blind or curtain to open up the house to light and your beautiful neighborhood. Put on jazz or bluegrass, but play it very very softly. Essentially, act like you're having a dinner party.
9. STEP AWAY
If you're selling the home by owner, open the door, say welcome, then leave the premises immediately. If they hate the color blue, they don't want to say that in front of you when your living room walls are painted that color. Let them talk it out without you there. Less awkward for everyone, trust me.
10. PUT A REALTOR IN THE EQUATION
I'm not saying you have to have one, but make sure your buyers do if you don't. It's worth the 3%. When paperwork, inspections, etc. start flinging your way you're going to want some kind of guidance. Not so much a staging tip, but it helps!
Phew, okay, long post I know, but I hope this helps! I wish I could stage homes for a career, so if you have any questions or want advice, please let me know in the comments, it's so much fun to me!