How you normally live in your home and how you live in your home when it is on the market are completely different. And for good reason. Just close your eyes and think about your home for a minute. Do you have areas of your home that contain piles constantly? Are your closets packed to the brim? Are your kitchen cabinets overflowing with cups and mugs from your favorite college bar? Does it clearly look like your pets and kids own the home and they are just allowing you to stay there?
Life on the market is just different. It forces you to live like a minimalist and it forces you to keep things picked up and organized. It is estimated that only 10 percent of home buyers can see the potential in a home. That means that 90 percent of them cannot look past all of the stuff and any deferred maintenance. One more stat for you: The National Association of Realtors says the average seller invests 1 to 3 percent of the asking price towards staging. That investment then yields, on average, an 8 to 10 percent return. So where do you start?
Thinning and de-cluttering are typically a great place to start. Our first advice to a seller when it comes to staging is “start packing because you are moving!” Therefore, any clothes or other household items that you are not going to need in the next 90 days should be packed up. You would be amazed how much more space the average closet could offer if it only contained the current season’s clothes.
To me the second most important place to attack is the kitchen. If you are a family of four, you probably don’t need 12 dinner plates, 12 appetizer plates, and 12 wine glasses available at all times. Just keep the bare minimum available and pack the rest. You may have to do more dish washing for a while, but your cabinets will feel so much more spacious. The same applies to your pantry, your kids’ cups, your spice cabinet, etc… It may feel empty to you, but it will feel spacious to a potential buyer.
So after you have packed everything you are not using, the question becomes what do I do with the stuff I don’t want. This is when it can get fun. It is almost like a game for me. Just ask my wife, Leah. If she even mentions getting rid of something, I will have it on Craigslist in a heartbeat. And Craigslist is a great way to sell items of value. But what about items that don’t necessarily hold that much value. At least in your mind they don’t.
Let’s start with one of my new favorites, freecycle.org. One of our readers, Irene Starr, turned me on to this service.Thank you Irene! Freecycle.org is like Craigslist, but all of the items are free. It is incredible! There are chapters all over the country and we have one in Kansas City. Essentially you can post items on there for donation OR you can post items that you are seeking. For example, currently the following items are listed to give away or are being sought out: Roofing materials, a treadmill, a mandolin, a wooden pallet, and scarves and a hat. I love the idea of a community dedicated to the reuse of household items.
What if you have items of no value to be removed? Let’s just call this stuff junk. I would suggest that you call 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They will haul pretty much anything away and only charge you based on volume. My experience with this company has been very positive. I even had them haul off an entire work shed behind a home in Prairie Village one year. They were prompt and in my opinion very cost effective.
Did you know that our local Goodwill at 89th Street and Wornall will accept old computers? Many Goodwill locations participate with Dell computers and their Reconnect program. They take the donated computers and either refurbish them and resell them through Goodwill or they are recycled responsibly to make sure that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to a landfill.
If you would like more suggestions, I found a great article on Oprah’s website. You gotta love that Oprah! Here it is.
Our incredible stager, Kendra Garwood with Staging in Style, says “The less money you spend preparing your home to sell, the less people will offer you.” I agree completely.
Photo credit: REAL ESTAGING on flickr.com