Easy ways to stage to sell: How we sold our house in a week

Staging to sell: How we sold our house in a week in a down market

We didn't plan to sell our house anytime soon. But life intervened with an opportunity too good to pass up, so we had to sell at the worst time.  Suddenly we had three months to get everything done.
Our realtor loved the house, but warned us that not much was being sold in our price range. He gave us an estimate and urged us to stay on the lower end of it. We would take on loss if we would take his advice. 
I had a friend come over, who herself dealt with real estate, and she told me to trust my house. Strange thing to say, but we had made lots of improvements and both loved our house to pieces, and it would be heartbreaking to do what the realtor said. 
Then another realtor said to us that our house would fall outside a certain search criteria on the online sites and also urged us to go down. 
But I already decided to go with the asking price, I knew the house was worth, after comparing it to similar houses in the neighborhood. Realtors in a down market will play it safe, they see profits go down, it makes sense for them to price a house low and have some turnover. 
What set our house apart, even if one bedroom was downstairs, was the care we had taken to fix her up, it had an excellent environmental rating ( if you want to fix up your own house, I would highly recommend isolating as much as possible, add solar power, and the best windows) there was an enormous amount of light and the garden that we had planted had matured and look pretty. So we figured, let's give it a try and wait for the  flow of visditors in the first week and listen to their feedback, before committing to a lower selling price.
To jump to the conclusion we sold the house to the first people that came through our door.
And yes we trusted our house, but this is what we did to make sure it would make the best impression.

  1. Take the pictures yourself. Now of course I wouldn't recommend this is your are not sure about your photography skills. But if you like me make your own photos on your blog or an decent amateur photographer it pays off to give it a try. First off, it saves money. But more importantly you know your own house, you lived its strong points. What you have enjoyed about it, what sets it apart from other houses in your hood. Now if you realtor is top notch, and the photographer too, and you don't know pixels from Pixar, trust them, but if you know your way around a camera, go for it. The day we put the photos up, we had a great response. Take your photos on a sunny day or even use old ones made in summer, if you have a garden it pays off to show it off at his best. Now. Before you shoot, you should stage...
  2. Stage your house. Now if you are a decor freak like me you have seen professional stagers do their thing, and it can be intimidating trying to recreate it. But you don't need all that. Simply clean out your house of all the clutter. Assign every room a function and carry it out. By example we had a man cave, but most people coming over would have kids, so we turned it into a teenage bedroom by cleaning out the fitness equipment, adding a bed and leaving our PlayStation and guitars there (it was a big hit with the couple's teenage son, as you can imagine) Always make the beds and make them as inviting as possible, fluffy pillows, even put two comforters underneath the covers. Anything overly personal, take it away, the buyer should have mental room to imagine his life there. They don't need to see your photos, take them away. Buy one if those standards for books and put a cookbook out in the kitchen with a gorgeous picture displayed. We had a lot of funky furniture, (see the before picture below, ah hello Ellroy!) for the showing we changed it for our more classic pieces, not everybody shares your style, but classics we can all agree on. We have three dogs, and for each showing we took away everything that would give that away, some people don't like animals, and it would be a put off for them. Only take the photos when everything is as serene and inviting as possible.
  3. Clean. Clean as your live depends on it. I cleaned myself and then had my cleaning lady going over it again. Clean the garden, the tiles, the windows, and everything that smells. And do it every time somebody comes over.
  4. And then make it smell even better. Old track, still works.
  5. Put flowers or fruit out. I put flowers and fruit from the garden.
  6. Arrange a place where people can sit, put a water carafe out, and let it be in a good spot in the house. The people who bought our house stayed for two hours the first time ( we weren't there, annoying maybe but they clearly felt at home.)
  7. This one is creepy but hey, if it helps. If you know who is going to be visiting, do a bit of research. Is it a family kids or no kids, a single person, what work do they do. And cater to that. Do not go overboard, but one small reminder of what they love, can make a connection. I won't tell you what I did, but let's say the people coming over would have loved winter sports, I would have left my standards at the wall of the garage, with my snowboards. 

I still miss my house a lot. And I am very glad we didn't listen to the realtor and trusted our gut. Do you have some tricks up your sleeve for selling your house?
The messy before picture.

Staging to sell: How we sold our house in a week in a down market
One of the photos of the garden I took.