There’s no shortage of articles offering tips for staging your home in preparation for an open house. Most of them focus on generic advice: remove too-personal items, deep-clean, de-clutter, polish the floors, replace light bulbs, fluff up the throw pillows, scatter a few scented candles and, the old favorite, bake a batch of cookies for a homey aroma.
Those are fine starting points to get you thinking about presentation. But you can bake cookies in just about any home with an oven. And sprucing up the upholstery won’t demonstrate to a potential buyer what sets your property apart from the rest.
Sometimes buyers need a little nudge to see what’s there beyond the condition, the square footage, and the more obvious selling points (balcony, pool, guest house). You’re in a position to offer that vision. If you really want to stage your home to make an impression, you’ve got to dig a little deeper.
Start by considering your home’s less tangible benefits— the stuff that isn’t necessarily apparent in the listing, or on any old walk-through of the house. Start to think about what your home feels like, and when. You may be able to offer prospective buyers a glimpse into the experience of living in your home.
The key to identifying a home’s subtle but special selling points is asking the right questions.
Let the Light In
The sun is your friend, but not necessarily all day. What time of day does your living room transform from white light to warm gold? Maybe you don’t get the best light mid-afternoon, but your living room flushes with a cozy glow around five. Why not host the open house in the early evening?
Does the sun hit your breakfast nook just right around 11am? Try a morning showing, and serve coffee in the nook to foster the full experience.
Bring a Space to Life
Think about how you most enjoy each space in your home.
Is your backyard made for string-lit al fresco evening get-togethers? Play that up. Fire up the grill for a couple of appetizers or light the fire pit. Prospective buyers with a similar taste for entertaining may have visions of their own friends and family gathering in the yard on a warm night.
Is there a particularly beautiful view of the sunset from the second floor balcony? Host the open house at sunset and station refreshments on the balcony to attract prospective buyers to the scene.
Perhaps it’s cold and rainy, but you have a great fireplace and a cozy sofa beside it, perfect for curling up with a book (or laptop) in the winter. Why not throw in some logs and serve mugs of tea or hot chocolate?
When you consider the best features of your neighborhood, go beyond safety and proximity to markets, parks, hospitals and schools.
It’s easy to sell the benefits of a quiet, tree-lined residential street. If your location is more urban, try to look beyond the obvious; is there a bakery below or next door that fills your home with the scent of freshly baked goods at three every afternoon? Plan your open house around that hour, and offer sliced bread from the bakery with jam. Give prospective buyers a real taste of what it’s like to live in your home.
Speaking of Smell
Cookies and candles smell great. But, if possible, try to highlight a fragrance included with purchase. Is there a blooming orange tree in the yard? Open up the windows and let the citrus in. Offer some fresh-squeezed juice as a refreshment. Show potential buyers that a tree is not just a tree; it’s (fresh and free) orange juice with breakfast in their new house.
Instead of following a blanket formula for staging your home, take the time to contemplate the little things that make it special. Recall what you were most excited about when you first moved in. Consider the details you’ll miss when you move out. If you can shed light on those features, you’re on the right track for your next open house.