Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Set the Stage

As promised, I wrote up a little something about what we did to stage our condo to sell quickly and for what we were hoping for. I should note, I am no expert. I didn't go to staging college or anything, if those exist.

I don't think they do.

Anyhoot, these are the things Husband and I did to give us a leg up during showings. These tips are all about what to do the day of an open house or potential buyer drive by.

First and probably the single most important thing, CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN (full caps means business).

Photo credit, Check out this great cleaning checklist I used as a starting point for my own checklist!

Oh Lawd, clean like you have never cleaned in your life and then continue to clean everyday like Martha Stewart herself is coming to judge your home. You might think most people won't notice the smudge on the baseboard but, when people are house shopping, they notice everything. Even if just on a subconscious level.

Husband and I did not leave dishes in the sink. We did not leave semi-clean laundry hanging on any chairs. We made the bed religiously. We dusted, vacuumed  and scrubbed all surfaces constantly. We made sure there were no dust bunnies in any corner of the house. We emptied all trash cans (even the bathroom one) almost daily, or at least right before someone said they were coming by, regardless of how much was in the can. Yes, it was exhausting but it paid off in the long run. Hopefully, your house will be so clean it will sell almost immediately and then you don't have to clean ever again.

To let you know how important this step is, I'm going to tell you this little story. There was another condo just like ours (same size, floor plan, etc) on the market at the same time we listed our condo. The other listing had some older flooring upstairs and wasn't staged like our home. Other than that, same condo.

There was a much bigger difference in the price, though. That condo was listed for $20,000 CHEAPER than our listing. It had also been on the market for some time so, it probably could have been negotiated for less. I don't know that for sure because, obviously, I wasn't trying to buy it. This listing made Husband and I extremely nervous but, we forged ahead. We had to try.

When our buyer told us that he had checked it out but chose our home instead, I asked why (because I'm stupid like that).He said it was because, out of all the listings he had toured, our home was the cleanest place he had ever seen. He went on to say that made him feel like our home was well cared for and, therefore, less likely to have any major issues.


Our crazy cleaning was worth $20,000 to our buyer.


Cleaning is important!

My second tip, which kind of goes along with the first tip, is to move any pets out of the house. 

Some people might have an issue with this but it really does help with keeping the house clean and fresh. Plus, not everyone is a dog/cat/turtle person. Shockingly appalling, I know. We did disclose that we had pets in the condo because we weren't moving the kids out to be deceptive. It really is easier to keep a house clean with fewer living creatures in it. Heck, I thought about moving Husband out temporarily. No one would take him.

Kidding, honey!

I am not at all suggesting you take your pets to a kennel or get rid of them. Heavens no. We could never do that to our babies. We begged  asked our parents to take the kids during showings. The cat went to my mom and the dog went to my in-laws. Our kids are high maintenance and giving both to one person would have been too much. So, if you have a family member or really good friend who is willing to take your furry babies for a bit, just do it. And buy that person lots of booze and cookies.

I'll be honest, it was hard. We missed the kids, they missed us, and our families were burdened with our brood. But, we all knew it was important to help us sell quickly. Since the pup is a little more maintenance than the cat, we would leave him for a few days and then take him back for a day or two, until someone called to set up a showing.

The cat was more difficult to move (mainly because of the litter box) so he stayed with my mom for about a month (or two). He also doesn't handle change well so I knew seeing moving boxes would stress him out. My mother is so awesome for keeping him for that long (until we settled into the new home) and ignored her own stress level for it.

THANK YOU MOMMY!!!!!!! She reads the blog sometimes. Everyone say hi mom and thanks for taking care of your daughter's fat cat for so long!

Once we had a purchased agreement signed though, we moved the dog back for good. He can handle the boxes.

If you can't temporarily relocate your pet, then keep that litter box/kennel/aquarium super clean (I use sifting liners in True's litter box and they are fantastic for a quick clean), try to bathe your pet so they don't stink, and consider using paper plates or bowls for their food. That way, you can toss their food dishes before a potential buyer comes by. You want to minimize your pet's footprint as much as possible.The Petersiks would even drive their babies around in the car to get them out of the house while people were checking out their pad.

Tip #3, do a quick pass through to declutter before showing your home and shove it all in the car. 

I have about 5 of these bad boys and used every single one to decrapify. They are about $5 each at Wal-mart or Target.

These items are things that you need in your day to day life but may crowd your home, such as your dirty laundry basket. I would pile things into empty laundry baskets and toss them in my car, then drive my car to the other side of our lot. It feels kind of sneaky but it really did help our tiny condo feel airy and clean. My car was usually stacked with our laundry baskets, my bathroom trash can (because it stuck out in my bathroom and interrupted the flow), our Roomba, clean clothes that hadn't been folded yet, the baskets on our stairs we used to corral clutter, and other random items that we would normally throw in a closet before company comes over because there wasn't time to properly put it away. Since this company would be looking in all of our closets, there was no place to hide our mess.

By tossing all of those random things in the car, it allowed us to use what little time we had for getting ready to focus on scrubbing. Some people may call and want to stop by in 10 minutes or less and you want to be ready for them. They could be The Ones!

Tip #4, Light some clean smelling candles and spray some Febreeze.
Photo credit

You've probably heard tips about baking fresh cookies in your oven during an open house and, while that's a  good idea, I didn't think my waist line could handle such a thing. So I opted instead to use cleaning smelling candles and Febreeze. I wanted the clean smells to reiterate my goal of a nothing-dirty-ever-happens-in-this-house-seriously-we-go-next-door-to-do-number-two vibe.

I picked up a couple of Glade candles in Crisp Waters scent for the bedroom and bathroom and a bottle of Febreeze in the regular odor eliminating scent for the couch and carpets. I would light the candles and spray the carpets before Husband and I would do our quick pick up and clean for potential buyers, so the scent would have some time to disperse throughout the rooms.

Cookies or clean sheets, the choice is yours. In my *limited* experience, clean smells and bright colors make a home feel bigger and fresher. Sounds weird but, I tell ya, it worked.

Just to note, I wasn't paid or perked for my recommendation of Glade and Febreeze. They don't know I exist, let alone know to pay me.

Tip # 5, Open some curtains and light it up
Get it? Lights on the Christmas tree? Ok so this is a big stretch. I just wanted to post a pic of our new house all decorated for Christmas. SUE ME.

By light it up, I'm not talking cigarettes or joints. Don't do drugs, kids.

Part of our prep included opening all of our curtains and cracking the blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. It adds to the open, cheery feeling buyers love. Also, turn on lights in every room. You don't want buyers to walk into a dark room and search for the switch. EVERYTHING should seem bright and welcoming  No dark corners. Light is good, ya'll.

Since buyers will be peeking into every nook and cranny, I would also turn on lights in closets, pantries, basements, etc. It's just one less thing someone has to do, because buyers don't like to work. That is true for any kind of buyer, in any retail situation.

 If your showing the house during the day, I wouldn't worry about outside lights though. That would be overkill.

Just to recap all that glorious info I just gave away fo' free:

2. Move out the pets, temporarily of course
3. Do a quick declutter and shove it all in your car
4. Light some clean smelling candles and spray some Febreeze
5. Open curtains and light it up

As I said before, I am not even close to an expert. I did a lot of research before we listed our condo and these are the things Husband and I did that worked for us.

Anyone out there have any other tips or tricks that helped them sell? Any house shoppers who have a list of things they look at when touring homes?


  1. Turn on all the lights before you leave so the realtor does not have to (so they don't have to see what the darker version looks like) and if you have a gas fireplace turn it on for ambience - we did that at all of our showings too. We also turned up the heat (bigger heating bills as a result) to ensure the home felt warm and cozy in winter. Neat and tidy is the key.

  2. Good idea on the fireplace! Although, we sold our home in August. We turned our AC on high before showings because, living in the South, cozy quickly turns into suffocation.

    I should add, Consider the Season, as a tip! Lol!