Home staging on a budget

Know which items to pack away and when to leave the shower curtain open

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I mentioned "home staging" to a single dad who asked about selling his home this spring. The rest of the men in the group looked at me as if I were from Mars.

"That’s great for the high rollers — the white wine and brie set," one of them said. "But what about people who serve hamburgers and beer, and not watercress sandwiches?"

Home staging is not reserved for the rich — or for creative women. In fact, cleaning and clearing clutters are the two primary items on Pam Christensen’s Inexpensive Staging Tips list for any market. And, guys, it doesn’t take a genius woman to help you through the other tips on the list.

Christensen, founder and owner of Staging for Charisma LLC, said guys often forget that they are selling their space, not their stuff.

"There are some staging tips that apply no matter where you live," said Christensen, a licensed real estate instructor and certified staging trainer. "Some tips apply more if you are living on the East Coast than on the West Coast."

Guys, if you’re thinking of selling your house or condo this spring, now is the time to prepare your home for sale. Why now? Well, it’s the traditional selling season, which means that in most communities, recorded residence transfers are at a peak during June and July. Most of those sales are actually made 30 to 60 days earlier, and it takes time to complete the transaction. Think about the academic year. Many deals are made when the kids are in school, and moves are made when they get out.

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What’s the best way to make a deal happen? A fresh coat of paint, inside and outside, will do wonders to make your residence show its best and make buyers want to purchase it. If your home looks tired, prospective buyers either won’t make a purchase offer or they will highly discount it to allow for the fix-up costs, especially painting. Most buyers want to purchase a residence in model-home condition, so all they have to do is turn the key in the front door and move in.

"White is out, designer neutrals are in," Christensen said. "So what the heck is a designer neutral? Beige, but if you’re not careful, that beautiful beige that looked so fabulous on the brochure could look pink on your wall. Warm beiges like Sherwin Williams Practical Beige and Kilim Beige are some of my favorites."

Christensen’s other cheap staging tips:

Curb appeal is not dead: OK, nine times out of 10, the first impression of the home is the Internet, but that doesn’t mean that curb appeal is out of vogue. The contrast between the chocolate brown bark and the bright green grass makes a striking first impression.

How to get rid of it: It’s time to give away the purple cookie jar that you got from Aunt Mary for your 18th birthday, and anything else that you have been saving just in case you might need it someday. Divide everything into three stacks: The purple cookie jar and other things that you never use go directly to the garage sale or Goodwill. The second stack is the things you use but rarely, or they are seasonal and you won’t need them while you are on the market. These are packed and stored. What’s left can go back into the closets. Will people really look in the closets? Only if they want to buy the home.

Counter patrol: Small appliances like toasters can go into a cupboard. If you have an espresso machine and a coffee pot, choose which one you use the most and tuck the other away.

Bathroom essentials: For toiletries, buy a plastic tote that can come out in the morning and evening and be easily tucked under the sink during the day. Keep no more than one shampoo, one conditioner and one liquid soap in the tub or shower.

And what about that shower curtain? Open or closed? If you have just invested in a new tile tub surround, leave the shower curtain open to show it off.

Say welcome home: Buy a new, tasteful welcome mat for the front entry. It’s best if it says "welcome." Adding a pot of blooming annuals by the front door if there’s space also creates a friendly atmosphere.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Place one in the entry or in one of the main living rooms. Mirrors help buyers see themselves in the home. They also help to make the room look larger and lighter. Check the reflection. Make sure you aren’t reflecting a view that is less than attractive.

Less is more: You’ve heard it before, but it is really true. When staging a room in a home for sale, a few well-placed pieces of furniture are all that’s needed to show the room at its best.

Tom Kelly’s new e-book, "Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico’s Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement," is available online at Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon.com, Sony’s Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions. 

                                         

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