It’s no secret that once you decide to sell your home, you may have to shell out some money relative to its current physical condition. The good news? You won’t have to break the bank. All you have to do is make smart decisions about how you want to present your home to potential buyers. This is called “home staging,” the practice of decorating your house in a way that discards personal style, and instead prioritizes that which brings the most appeal to most people. By showcasing its best assets, you can sell it quickly for the highest possible price. Something as significant a financial transaction as selling your home means that you shouldn’t settle for a lower selling price or a longer marketing period than you have to.

Home staging is an art in and of itself because good staging lets buyers imagine themselves living in the home. The kind of visual merchandising that goes into it draws on basic interior design principles, one of which tells you to make do with what you have by maximizing the best features and minimizing the flaws. It’s less about decorating and personal style, and more about creating a sort of visual space that people can start with once they begin personalizing their new home.

While there are professional real estate services that can certainly help you do wonders with staging your home, you can definitely give it a go yourself. Here are some tips you can work with:

  1. Focus on foundations – clean, patch, and repair.

Before you even start thinking about rearranging your furniture, you need to do a thorough spring cleaning on the whole house first. There should be no inch left untouched, and don’t assume that buyers won’t look there. A clean home shows that you’ve taken good care of the property. Clean the sink drain, make the bathroom tiles sparkle, steam-clean your carpets, reupholster your sofas, make the appliances look spotless– the goal is to make everything look new.

After cleaning, start looking around the whole structure to see any existing cracks, stains, and anything that may indicate foundation problems. These are immediate red flags to buyers because no one wants to move into a home that needs more work. For every problem or flaw that they see, they will deduct the cost of fixing it from their original price. For serious damage, have them fixed by a professional which your Maui Realtor is happy to help you with. As for things that you can do yourself, look for areas that could use a little TLC, or spots with chipped paint that could do with a good repainting.

  1. Space and Storage Sells

Buyers, especially families, will always put space and extra storage on top of their priority list. The most surefire way to make your house look bigger and more spacious is to declutter. Clutter makes spaces look smaller than they actually are, and can easily distract buyers from your home’s more desirable features. Pack up all your personal belongings in boxes and tuck them away for the time being.

Buyers will also open cupboards, cabinets, and closets, so make sure to remove as many miscellaneous items as you can. You may add a few crucial things that one may expect to find (coat hangers in the closet, for example), but keep them to a minimum.

  1. Stage Your Home Where it Counts

Once you’ve had the whole house cleaned and touched up, you can start staging your house to look fresh and inviting.

  1. Maximize Space

Each room should have a defined purpose. This will help buyers see how all of the square footage could be maximized for utility. Attics can be transformed into an office, the basement can be repurposed into an entertainment room, and a junk room can be a guest bedroom instead.

Beyond rooms, you can also be creative with turning awkward areas into usable spaces. Corner windows can function as a reading area, bare walls can have built-in shelves, and empty middle areas can have breakfast nooks.

  1. Depersonalize

Again, the goal of home staging is to appeal to what most people like. Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in your home with the added emotional environment of your own family photos or personal keepsakes. Make sure you set a neutral space: nothing too blank or empty, and just enough to make it look lived in. Stay away from white walls and go with beige or mocha paint, and a few touches of color here and there with maybe a bowl of fruit, some bright throw pillows, or a piece of art on the wall.

  1. Lighting

Take advantage of natural light during the day. Opening all the curtains and blinds to make the room look brighter will help open up the space more. At night, lighting plays a big part in “emotional staging,” which is that certain feeling that people will get upon entering a room.  Knowing where to put additional fixtures or lamps can set a homely, inviting mood.

  1. Furniture

Furniture helps orient the way that a room is intended to be. Arrange and rearrange furniture pieces to make each room feel spacious and easy to navigate. Add or remove pieces as necessary to strike a balance: having too much will make it feel cluttered, and having too little will make it feel cold.

  1. Curb Appeal

The exterior of a home has a significant impact on a buyer’s first impression. Upping your home’s curb appeal entails the whole package: repainting, power washing, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, etc. You can also do a bit of decorating after by adding fresh doormats and flower boxes.

While at it, it’s important to keep in mind that what sells the house is not necessarily what makes it home for the buyer. The goal is to emphasize your home’s best features and create a visual representation of a lifestyle that buyers long for. Bottom line, home staging shouldn’t be exorbitant — your home should be able to speak for itself, with a bit of help from you, some cleaning products and basic interior design tips.