Home staging during cold winter months is different than staging in the summer, and with some staging tips you can make the most of your home no matter what the season. For instance, make a patio into a dining area in the summer and don't be afraid to use flower pots in the winter.
Barb Schwarz, inventor of the phrase "home staging," shares her seasonal tips for staging your home in every season to make sure your home stands out on the market.
"The number one thing is that your home becomes a house and the house becomes a product," says Schwarz. "That's the underlying principle in this process, so sellers have to cut the strings of attachment.
"The bottom line: This is about getting you money, Mister Seller. It's 'Jerry Maguire' time: 'Show me the money!'"
Home Staging Tips for Summer
The photos show the before and after difference of a patio area with home staging: Which one could you see your friends and family sitting around for years to come?
- "If you can't see it, you can't sell it," Schwarz says. "We can't get them into your house if you don't stage the outside of your house." To that end Schwarz recommends that you look at your house as a product, so go across the street. That's where potential buyers pull up, so from there you can see it from their viewpoint. "The front gets cluttered with plants and trees, with the humidity and growth of summer, so how much of your house can you really see? If you can only see the front door and garage doors, it looks like you are selling doors. You can cut the bottom branches so people can see it. Trees trim from the bottom up, plants from the top down. In the summer it gets buried with limbs -- and also check the front and back of the house."
- All the excessive plant growth keeps light from coming into the house, and no one wants a dark house. Trim plants just below the level of the window so they aren't protruding above. Rounding plants off softens the look of any house and makes a home look more valuable. If it looks like chaos outside, they wont even get out of the car.
- No hanging plants all over the front porch. Schwarz warns, "You want the eye to go to the features of the house and not the plants."
- Stage the backyard as an outdoor living room for the summer months -- it's like adding more living space. "Thing is, in creating this living room most people add too much. You want a nice table, chairs and umbrella, and set the table with place mats and dishes -- but only a few," Schwarz advises. "Also, take pictures of this scene in the summer, so if you decide to sell in the snow of winter you can show the pictures to buyers and let them know what a great space it is in the summer. You can also take photos in winter and fall if you have great foliage or something. Make a nice photo album. People can't imagine things, so show them!"
- You might also want to consider doing a little home staging on your lawn. "In the summer, when a dog's made a brown spot on your lawn, you can just buy Sherwin-Williams paint called Emerald Green and it's green again! It will stay green for about 6 to 8 weeks."
- Keep your home cool, so people won't want to leave since it's too hot outside. "Spend the money on AC -- if they don't look around, they wont buy."
- Keep outdoor toys organized in one area.
- "Again, If you can't see it you can't sell it: Make sure you rake up those leaves and keep the outdoor greenery looking fresh." For autumn, Schwarz boils down the outdoor staging to these simple tips: "Trim and shape."
- "Inside a home with a fireplace sometimes an owner wants to light a fire, which can be OK. However, candles should not be lit." Schwarz warns that it's an accident waiting to happen. "By all means put candles out, they can make a nice feel for cool fall days, but don't light them. You can get oil rings and put vanilla on them and put them on your lights. It was made for the light, but it wont burn. You can also set the scene in the fireplace, and of course use a gas fireplace." You want the home to set a scene and this will do it -- safely."
- "Fall means Halloween and Thanksgiving, so we are getting into the holiday season now," the professional home stager says. "And know this: Less is more." Reconsider decorating with too much holiday spirit: If people are looking at your Halloween decor they aren't looking what you want them to -- the house. Have the party at the neighbors' this year and the kids can live it up at school, but at home keep your celebrating to a minimum.
- It's also back-to-school season and your kids will bring home artwork they want to display. "You also want to keep this to a minimum," says Schwarz. "Narrow it down -- have them pick one and put it on the side of the door."
Home Staging Tips for Winter
- Keep your place warm. "Again, you want the house looked at! If you aren't living there or even if you are, spend the money to keep it warm. They will walk out if it's too cold," says Schwarz. "And that means no sale."
- Keep lighting in mind during the winter months. "Winter means it gets dark earlier, so put lighting on timers inside and outside the house. Every room in the house can be on timers, as it welcomes buyers into a room and you want them to keep walking and checking out the house."
- Just because it's winter doesn't mean you shouldn't have flower boxes and greenery at your front door, in pots. On the contrary, it's really warm and welcoming. Just make sure they are seasonally appropriate.
- Keep snow off the back patio and front porch. "You want people to go out and see the back and front of the house and the patio and yard, too. Go back to your back fence and see what does the back of your house looks like, does it look boring? You can keep flower pots by the slider doors, as it softens the look of the house in the gray winter."
- Again it's holiday time, so you can have a wreath on the door and a nice centerpiece on the table, and perhaps a Christmas tree, but that's enough. "You want to honor your faith, but you don't want it in people's faces," Schwarz says. "You don't want home staging to be about faith. Again, you want people looking at the home and not your stuff."
- Don't forget to put out the summer photos of your great outdoor deck, so people know what it will be like in warmer months.
Home Staging Tips for Spring
- When you're home staging for spring, you want to bring color to your front door as soon as possible. "Seasonal flowers are great and you want to have them out in pots on porches, as it can be a gray and rainy season, and you want some color," says Schwarz. "Even as early as February you can have cuttings from your yard or winter pansies."
- Make sure you have Christmas lights and holiday decor down. "It's amazing how many people don't do this."
- Keep weeds at bay. Over the long winter weeds have grown and mold formed, so get rid of dead plants and cut back. You want your home to look spring fresh, and having dead plants and weeds is not what buyers want to see.
- Take care of driveway cracks. "Women can hurt themselves with heels walking on and you want the house as polished as possible. During the winter, cracks can form, so you want to take care of it. Also, the oil has to be gone off the driveway."
Did home staging help you sell your house? Got tips and advice to share? We want to hear from you! Add your comments in the box below.
Want more home staging tips and techniques? These AOL Real Estate guides can help:
- Home Staging Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid
- Home Staging: Hire a Pro or Do It Yourself?
- Before Staging a Home, Take These Prep Steps
- Home Staging on a Dime
- Home Staging for an Empty House
- Home Staging Step by Step
- Home Staging Tips for a Quick Home Sale
- Steps to De-Clutter Your Home
- Painting to Sell: What Color Homes Sell Best?
- Sell Your Home With These Interior Paint Colors
- See photos of Home Staging Before & After
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