Nashville Home Staging Tips and Checklist – “Staging to Sell”

We were so excited to be on a powerhouse Home Staging Panel last week and wanted to give ya’ll the tips and tricks of “Staging to Sell” your home in Nashville. A huge thank you to our friends over at Churchill Mortgage for hosting the lunch and learn. They continue to be a great resource for homeowners beyond just financial and lending expertise. As our thank you to them for their hospitality and the opportunity to continue our mission of “Building a Beautiful South”, we put together this FREE Southern Athena Staging to Sell Checklist shown above, to use for all of your upcoming design projects. Download it today and be sure to let us know what you think. We always enjoy discussing all of the many ways to gain more value from your real estate. 

Nashville Home Staging Speakers

Open Your Curtains, Draw Your Blinds, See Your Property with Buyer’s Eyes

Perspective is by far the hardest and most critical step to take when beginning the process of marketing your home for sale. We understand you and the people in your life love your home. When you are getting ready to sell though, the day you decide, should also be the day you say your emotional goodbyes and take yourself out of that equation. Staging unfortunately isn’t personal. A good way to do this would be to go visit some other local Open Houses. We can get you a list of For Sale homes in your area, and also Under Contract homes to compare. That way, you can begin to see what is working and what is a Buyer turn off through first hand experience. As Realtors, our goal is to market your home to the widest audience possible.

More Mass Appeal = More Buyers = More Competition = More Money for Your Home

That means your home is going to need to have that “Mass Appeal” kind of look and these staging tips are just the trick. Trust the panel experts -“A neutral home will sell sooner, and could even stir up a bidding war by getting more people interested.” Plus national averages show that staged homes sell for 6.9% higher and 50% faster than non-staged homes. Great stats on this topic demonstrate why it is worth your time and money.

Brighten Up with Natural Light

8 out of 10 of our recent buyer clients have put on their Southern Athena Buying a Property Wishlist – Natural light, Daylight, or Large Windows as a Must Have. Woah! Our first no brainer staging tip (and it doesn’t cost you a thing) is to draw your curtains and allow light to actually shine through your windows. This is the 1st step because it will also allow you to see your space better.

“Wait, wait, wait, but we don’t want Buyer’s to see our uneven walls, drooping stained floors, or settling cracks! You are crazy!” Don’t worry. If it’s that bad, we may tone it down. But open them for now so you can see what needs to happen for step two. We viewed this beautifully staged condo unit in the Icon and our Buyers fell in love. It stood out among other units because of their fantastic, minimal, bright and open layout and staging.

Home Staging in the Nashville Icon

Declutter 75% of Your Space

Jessie Sgarlata Betz, our dear colleague with Village Real Estate and Accredited Staging Professional, says her first staging must do is using The 75% Rule –  Remove 75% of the stuff from your space. That means if you look at your kitchen counter and there are four items on it, you should remove and pack up 3 of them. This will help you declutter and gives you a jumpstart on packing when we get you under contract in no time.

When you declutter your space, you allow your real estate to be the focus instead of your personal belongings. Follow this rule for every room in your home, and you will be amazed at how different it begins to look. Don’t fret. It will seem empty at first, but this benefits you when Buyers come a’ looking. They will see your home for what it is, be able to imagine themselves in it, and will feel better knowing it won’t take you months to get all of your stuff out. #Winning

Our Southern Athena Top 10 Must Go Items:

  1. Any fake plants and vines. Fresh flowers are always better and cost $8-$15 at your local grocery.
  2. Items on the top of cabinets and shelves, or sitting directly on the floor.
  3. Religious artwork or texts. *We know we are in the bible belt ya’ll, but Buyer’s from all over are going to be looking at your home. What if someone of a different religion is willing to pay 10% more for your home? We can not discriminate based on religion, so let’s just take it all out of the home staging equation.
  4. Taxidermy! Enough said. Check out #southernathenatips and see #55 for proof of this one!
  5. Non essential seasonal clothing and shoes to leave more space in your closets.
  6. Weapons, Violent Imagery, Porn, Drug Paraphernalia or other “PG-13” material. If you wouldn’t want your mom seeing it, potential Buyer’s shouldn’t either. All weapons should be kept in a safe and secure locked place or entirely off the premises for your own legal protection. Safety Tip: Open houses, and Garage / Yard sales are one of the most used opportunities criminals take to canvas homes in a neighborhood to burglarize at a later date. If you are holding either, be sure to have all valuables insured and out of site prior.
  7. Expired groceries, condiments, and leftovers.
  8. Personal Photos and Documents. Also keep medicine or prescriptions out of site and in a secure location.
  9. Dated electronics* – This includes Fat TVs, VCRs, Old computers, and wall mounted Telephones. *unless they are just too too cute or retro!
  10. Anything that stinks – Ash trays, inside or out, old curtains or textiles, dirty laundry (should be tucked far away!), litter boxes, etc.

Give Your Home a Deep Clean

Now that 75% of your stuff is packed, and your home is looking bright and clutter free, it is time to clean. We discussed all of the ins and outs of deep cleaning and every one of the panelists agreed, just hire a professional. You will want someone to scrub your home from top to bottom, inside and out. And we know they can do a better job from 1st hand experience. If you spend money on just one thing, get it professionally cleaned.

  • Pressure wash your driveway and any siding.
  • Get your windows washed.
  • Have carpet professionally cleaned. (If you have inside pets, talk with the cleaners about pet options because the normal process can release hidden odors, eww.)
  • Have a cleaning company move from top to bottom when scrubbing your home (Don’t forget those fan blades first!)
  • Have your HVAC tuned up with a seasonal maintenance type cleaning and keep the receipts to show Buyers.
  • Replace your air filter(s) after the interior is done. Pro Tip: One of our preferred home inspectors said he encourages all buyers to look at air filters as a telling sign of the quality of care a homeowner has taken for the entire property. Dirty filters means the home probably has not been maintained in other, more significant areas. Good to know!
  • Use fresh cleaning products with citrus scents. Harsh chemicals have been known to turn off Buyers with sensitivities.

Pet Alert! – We know your pet is part of your family, but many potential Buyers have allergies or do not associate value and quality with furry friends. Your pet can also track dirt, dander, smells and hair balls back in after all of your hard work cleaning. If your Realtor hopes to sell your property quickly (which we do!), then we suggest if at all possible that you have your pet boarded or sent to a friend’s after your professional clean until you go under contract. In today’s market it could only be 24 hours!

You can check out our Southern Athena Preferred Vendors List to use our go to local resources and contacts for all of these real estate needs. Or just give us a call. We like to stay in touch with all of the best service providers in town.

Freshen Up with Smells that Sell

Home Staging with Citrus

Christy, our awesome moderator asked, “What are smells that work and smells that don’t and how do you achieve that right one without overdoing it?” and for whatever reason this seemed to be the most intriguing topic of the day!

We all agreed: Citrus and Peppermint are the two best scents to work with that are fresh, clean, and natural. Plus you can use them year round! They are always in season.

Pro Tip: Put two small Lemon or Lime pieces in your Garbage disposal with ice for an instant refreshing smell and blade cleaning.

Smells not to use? Vanilla is surprisingly a No-No and we commented “Cinnamon is just tragic” thinking back to showings gone terribly wrong around our last holidays. Pumpkin can also be too rich and overpowering. The trick with smells is to make them fresh and understated. Also, don’t try to cover bad smells with Fabreeze, or overpowering candles. Instead using simple essential oils could do the trick. Whatever you use shouldn’t mask existing odors, or begin to preoccupy a Buyer’s mind.

One fun trick mentioned from the panel is to Bake Cookies and have the fresh scent wafting through your home. If you decide to go that route, make sure you don’t burn anything and that you also actually leave cookies out for the prospective Buyers. Otherwise, we think that’s just wrong and will tell our Buyers you are tricking our tummies out of delicious treats.

Focus on Curb Appeal First

Staging isn’t just for the interior of your home. Oh no! If you have lived in the South for any amount of time, shame on you for thinking otherwise. We love a great front porch with rocking chairs and a side of lemonade or sweet tea. Because of this, we always start the staging process from the street. After all, the first photo on all of your marketing materials will usually be one of the front of your home. We want your home to shine before a Buyer ever walks through the front door.

  • Mow the grass the day before photos are taken – Get those beautiful lines in your pictures!
  • Add fresh mulch around any gardened areas. Even just a little on top can brighten things up and make your home pop.
  • Paint your front door. Pro Tip: Painting your front door RED has the highest return on investment of any other DIY home project. If you do this, just make sure the shade of red compliments your house colors!
  • Add a welcome mat.
  • Change any outdated hardware.
  • Add visible numbers to your mailbox, above your porch, or by your door. Buyers don’t like getting lost or not knowing when to stop because they can’t see the house numbers.
  • Clean out any light fixtures and replace the bulbs.
  • Place flowers flanking each side of the walkway or front door.
  • Add a seasonal wreath.

Curb Appeal Staging Tips

Exterior Condo Staging Tips:

We know exterior staging on a Condo can be tricky. First, be sure to check with your HOA before tackling any outdoor projects. Once you are armed with information, try to make your Condo stand out of the mix. If allowed, you can simply add a front door Welcome mat and wreath. Stage your porch and balcony with a small seating arrangement and flowers. And don’t forget to leave flyers, extra directions, amenities access, and photos with your concierge to welcome Buyer’s as they arrive. Ask us about other ways to get around “decoration rules”. Sometimes, little touches can make a big impact.

Home Staging & the Rule of 3’s.

When we begin home staging, we start with the entry and move through your home in the natural progression a Buyer will move. We start with the Entry, then focus on all living spaces and kitchen areas. Then we move to the bedrooms, bathrooms and closets, and last to additional spaces like the den, garage and laundry. As people move through out your home, we want to keep them interested enough to appreciate the space and procession, but not long enough to begin nit picking items they see and don’t like.

Our interior designer and fellow panelist, Tiffany Montgomery with Tiffany Design and Style, says use the Rule of 3’s for placing items in your space. This is a tried and true staging technique that places items visually into sets of 3 or off centered configurations. For instance a couch will have 3 pillows instead of 2, a fireplace mantle will have 3 different sized candles instead of 4. When items are staged to follow the Rule of 3’s, the eye doesn’t stop in one place too long, as it moves on to the next item, to the next, and then to the next. If things are symmetrical then the eye becomes stationary and doesn’t move as quickly around the space, it simply goes back and forth. This bouncing causes that lingering effect that then in turn makes Buyers stop and begin noticing more of the details.

By using the Rule of 3’s as an energetic balancing technique, we are able to keep Buyers moving and interested from space to space within the home without allowing them to become tired or dreary enough to stay too long. It showcases the wow moments and minimizes any negatives as they find another focus in the next space.

Painting – Do’s and Don’t’s

Sometimes before you can really stage, you have to neutralize your home so potential Buyers can see it properly. The best way to know what today’s Buyers are looking for in terms of painting and staging trends is to follow new construction. Go to a new construction open house or showroom and look at their furniture style and placement, note the countertops, fixture styles, finishes, and of course the paint.

Panelist’s favorite current trending Grey Sherwin William’s Paints: A New Grey, Swanky Grey, London Fog, and Mineral Deposit. Our favorite Pottery Barn inspired colors are shown below and at a fraction of the price. Talk with one of our color specialists when picking out final staging paints. There is some magic to matching what you have AND refreshing the paint to show your home in the right light.

Sherwin Williams Pottery Barn Paints - Neutrals

Today’s paint color trends are mostly in the Natural and Grey families. Contractor beige has been replaced with what we call “Greige”! The nice difference is that Grey can come in many different undertones, from white to black and even purple, green and blue. It is neutral, but can still provide a nice backdrop of color to other pieces in the home. We don’t usually suggest painting unless absolutely necessary because it can become costly and the return on the investment is hit or miss based on your exact situation. If we do suggest painting, be sure to follow these:

Southern Athena Do’s and Don’t’s for Painting

  • Do Choose Neutral (Not loud or bold or bright) Colors.
  • Do use low VOC paints if painting close to the sale of your home to cut down on toxic breathable paint fumes.
  • Do use a matte finish that hides imperfections.
  • Do remove all outlet covers prior to painting.
  • Do hire a professional if you are not a detail person or painting pro.
  • Do try out all colors on different sides or your walls and at different times of day for color accuracy.
  • Do save any extra paint for your Buyers to use as touch up paint. *Good Karma Bonus!*
  • Do paint with lighter colors to help brighten space and make rooms appear larger.
  • Do use paint for DIY staging items that can save you tons of money on overall design costs. (Chalkboard, whiteboard, and metallic paints can turn inexpensive items into big ticket home staging sales touches!)
  • Do hire a professional for exterior painting. Be sure to also consult a one of our designers to choose the right complimentary colors. Certain exterior painting trends have better sales ROI than others.
  • Don’t waste money painting unless it is highly suggested, cracking, or absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t forget to clean all surfaces prior to painting.
  • Don’t skimp on the second coat or buy super cheap paint just because it’s not going to be yours. Buyers can tell!
  • Don’t neglect trim.
  • Don’t use Glossy or Oil based paints that can showcase imperfections.
  • Don’t paint over other materials such as tile, paneling. or brick unless through tailored advice from your Interior Designer.
  • Don’t paint murals or faux-finishes on any walls.
  • Don’t paint over imperfections and not disclose those to your Realtor.

Our Local Favorite Home Staging Stores and Website Resources

Southern Athena Office Window

When in doubt, buy local items to stage your home. We love getting location based swag, like a Nashville print, or artwork for decor. Here are the panelist’s favorite Home Staging resources. We use these often as places to go get great items like Mirrors (to replace pictures, artwork, and make your space look large), pillows and other accents, design ideas for arranging furniture, and new light fixtures to brighten and showcase your space to sell.

Also check out our Southern Athena Pinterest Boards for more tips and tricks on up to date design trends. We hope you enjoyed all of these awesome staging tips. If you are considering selling, one of our Residential Experts will be able to help walk you through the process and discuss even more tailored recommendations. Like furniture rentals for empty homes! We understand, each situation is different, so we give tailored recommendations as part of our Real Estate services.  Let us help you showcase your property in the best light and find the hidden value in your real estate.