Staging 101

During the real estate boom in Portland, Maine, no one really cared about staging — the act of preparing a home before putting it on the market so it can sell quickly and for top dollar. Back then, homes practically sold themselves. Sellers would get their asking price (or in many cases MORE) even if the place was dirty or filled with clutter.

Today, staging has become especially important in this highly competitive Maine market, where traditional sellers are up against foreclosures and short sales (so-called distressed properties) that can offer rock-bottom prices for bargain hunters. And that’s what today’s buyers crave — a bargain.

But a nicely staged property offers that “move-in ready” appeal that buyers are willing to pay a bit more for. They want to see that the current owner is taking care of the home, not allowing it to fall apart, like the abandoned foreclosure down the street. If they see a fixer-upper, they’ll offer a fixer-upper price.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on home improvements or hire a professional stager to reap the benefits of a staged home. There are simple, inexpensive things you can do, including:

1) Clear out the clutter. If you don’t use it, sell it, give it away or throw it out. Hold a garage sale, donate it to Goodwill or post it on Craigslist. People are always looking for free or cheap stuff. If you simply can’t part with something that’s taking up a lot of space, like your winter clothes, pack it up and put it in storage.

2) Clean and repair. Cleaniness is next to godliness, especially in real estate. And be sure to fix what’s broken, including a squeaky cabinet door, leaky faucet or a torn screen door. If you like, replace outdated hardware and fixtures. They’re inexpensive and add that shiny new feel buyers love.

3) Make room and lighten up. Remove extra furniture or use a smaller couch or bed if they’re too big. Cramped rooms give buyers the impression that your house is small and lacks space. Store some of your clothes so your closets look bigger. Choose window treatments and lighting that brighten each room.

Information from HGTV