Staging Your Home for Sale on a Budget

A red for sale sign is in the front yard if a white house
A home is advertised for sale in Hampton Roads, Va., Jan. 3, 2017. (Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland/Air Force)

A bold red bathroom, an extensive snow globe collection, glow-in-the dark stars on the ceiling -- while touches like these may personalize a home, for military personnel on the move, they may lengthen the time it takes to make a sale.

Spending money to stage a home you're selling may seem counterintuitive, but the saying "You have to spend money to make money" is pertinent in real estate. But how do you know how much you should invest in staging, upgrading or replacing?

Start with an honest assessment of the condition of your home and the price point. Most homes on the market would benefit from a deep cleaning and a fresh coat of paint, but you may need an outside perspective to decide what your home needs most.

Since many sellers have emotional ties to their houses, it can be challenging to look at the property with a neutral eye. Ask a trusted friend or family member to pretend to be a prospective buyer and offer feedback. Then, create a priority list along with a budget for how many changes you have the time and money to address.

Buyers search by logic, but most make home purchases based on emotion. Therefore, it's smart to create an environment that allows potential buyers to see themselves living in your home. This can be accomplished through minimizing and neutralizing the home with little financial investment.

Neutralize the Decor

While the rooster wallpaper border in your kitchen may not catch your attention any more, it certainly will catch the eye of a potential buyer. Removing wallpaper that gives the home a dated look and painting in neutral tones is an inexpensive and easy way to change the look and feel of a home. Ask the paint expert at your local home improvement store for the latest trends in neutral tones.

Declutter and Maximize Space

Remove furniture, excessive accessories, personal collections and anything else that makes the rooms feel crowded and small. You may have to rent a storage unit, but this investment can help you reap big rewards.

If you're unsure how to decorate in a more minimalist way, tour model homes in your area. Professional home stagers have a knack for making a home feel warm and cozy with a few well-placed accessories. Observe how they decorate a bookshelf or an accent table.

Should You Replace Flooring?

Choosing the perfect flooring to appeal to potential buyers is a bit like trying to pick out the perfect gift for your significant other -- tricky! Many homeowners prefer to replace carpeting with wood or laminate flooring, so incurring this expense may be unnecessary. Unless the carpet is deeply soiled or damaged, a deep cleaning before putting the home on the market is all you should need. If the buyer would like to have the carpet replaced, this is something that can be negotiated in the purchase price of the home, which eases the burden on you and allows the buyer to pick out exactly what they want.

Make Needed Home Repairs

Aside from a fresh coat of paint, decluttering, and moving some furniture around, the most important item when listing your home for sale is to make any necessary repairs. While you may no longer notice the missing grout on your backsplash or the raised corner of your laminate flooring, a potential buyer will, so fix these items so they don't distract. If you're not handy, ask friends or neighbors for help or hire a reasonably priced handyman.

One of the best ways to assess the condition of your home is to check out your competition. Attend an open house or look online for photos of the other homes for sale in your neighborhood and determine how your home stacks up.

If you're able to hire a professional stager, this can be a valuable investment. However, investing time and elbow grease can pay dividends as well. Your home will not be the only one that potential buyers see, so grab your cleaning supplies, paint brush, and dolly and make your home shine.

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