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The 3 Impressions: Staging Your Home and Getting It SOLD!

Selling a house is a lot of work. If I am as good at my job as I believe I am, and my clients put there trust in me – the home should be sold in 30 days or less. Granted, there are some exceptions and properties that stretch that 30-day timeframe, every transaction is different. I’ve walked into homes that would get great ratings if they were on an episode of hoarders and homes that look like no one has ever lived there. One rule I request my clients to live by is to keep the house in better appearance than it has ever been while they have lived there. In any price-point; if you're selling a move-in ready home, you need to 'WOW!' your audience, impress them, sell the home's lifestyle. (Disclaimer: the following photos are from a personal listing of mine. A listing in which the sellers followed my advice, leading us to receive eight (8) offers and going under contract within two weeks. I'd like to also point out that this neighborhood was hard to sell with properties sitting on the market ~150 days and seeing multiple price reductions.)

What is going to make a home sell for top dollar? Is it a strong list price, the perfect paint scheme, updated appliances, a manicured landscaping, freshly shampooed carpets, or location? All of it. Everything you notice about a property is another factor somewhere on home buyers’ checklists. I will go into detail on what you should pay attention to when getting your home ready for the market. 90% of sellers that I’ve worked with believe their home has more value than what the comparable report states. I've witnessed first-hand the repercussions of sellers overpricing their home; even in neighborhoods and communities where buyers are willing to pay a premium to live, homes that are over priced do not receive the traffic one would expect, this scenario has caused my buyer clients to skip over particular properties (their first thought is 'why bother making an offer if the seller is unreasonable?') Setting the tone with an overpriced home isn’t complemented well if the home isn’t shown in that above-market value light. While you want to garnish the best price possible when selling your home & feel your home is more valuable than the same floor-plan down the street, it’s imperative to remember buyers are trying to cut the best deal possible without overpaying.

I'm a firm believer that one must sell a lifestyle in order to sell a home. Small townhouse in the city? You need sell the walkability lifestyle and urban environment. Big house in the suburbs?You're selling a family-focused central hub. Expensive home in Malibu? Focus on the seclusion and retreat-like feel. Properties dictate various lifestyles by the location and style of the home, the marketing and home's staging should play on it's lifestyle. Below is my detailed list of what to do when getting your home ready to hit the market, while I sell a suburban market, and while each market is different the goal to accomplish is this… You want the house feel like a home to potential purchasers. Looking to get the highest price in the neighborhood? Don’t cut corners when it comes to preparing to list your home. Take the time to thoroughly clean the house from top to bottom & de-clutter as much as possible.

FIRST IMPRESSION - What do buyers first see when they pull up to a house? The notice the lot, the landscaping, the curb appeal, and other homes in the neighborhood. Staging your home begins with a focus on curb appeal:

  • Paint the entryway

  • Update the hardware

  • Clean the windows

  • Seal the driveway (can be costly, but noticeable especially for the higher priced properties)

  • Keep the lawn and landscaping manicured

  • Power wash the siding & brick

  • Add pops of color where needed (colorful bench, flowers, front porch ornament, etc.)

SECOND IMPRESSION – the foyer, entryway, and all you see when first entering through the front door. This is the time to make a welcoming first impression. Nine times out of 10, the foyer should be bright and open. If it’s not – give the illusion that it is. Don’t leave jackets and shoes out in the open; make sure those are stored away in a closet (this should be kept tidy for any looky-loos). Make sure the floors are in tip-top shape, freshly vacuumed or swept.

  • Update the home’s color scheme; check out Hat’s blog for picking out the perfect color palette here.

  • Rearrange furniture to allow for more visual floor space

  • Style your dining room table (this is an area that strikes entertainers, allow for the room to showcase an entertainment style while allowing for more decoration)

  • Encourage buyers to tour the entire property by illuminating separate living spaces


THIRD IMPRESSION - Buying a home is a huge financial commitment for purchasers; a majority of homeowners are taking out 15 or 30 year mortgages to finance their homes. When someone's making 360 payments for a property, they’ll want the most out of the purchase, one way to appeal to buyers with this mindset is to make your home feel like a retreat. Appeal to these potential buyers by illuminating your back-yard oasis:

  • Purchase a hammock & set up in a private area, with a little seclusion.

  • Have all hedges, lawn, and landscaping manicured (and continue to manicure throughout the listed time period)

  • Update a bare backyard with low-cost hedges, flowers, and random pops or color via landscape ornaments. Two of my favorite go-tos include the At Home Superstore and Home Goods

  • Pick up a cheap Fire Pit from Lowes or Home Depot and some benches

  • Throw out a set of corn hole boards or a Soccer Net and ball, this will allow the potential buyers to visualize raising their children here or future entertainment endeavors.


Buyers are all different and the way agents direct their clients around homes are all different, but one thing all consumers can agree on – the biggest turn offs aren’t always visual. Strong odors and uncomfortable temperatures play a big role in the perception of a home. To get the smoke scent out of homes, you can rent an Ozone Generator, however depending on the smoke and the length of time – some homeowners have had to result to repainting and removing all carpeting. For more tips on getting rid of strong odors, check out this Gizmodo article here.

Easy ways of updating a home to make it feel more welcoming:

  • Maximize visual floor space by rearranging furniture and getting rid of any clutter

  • Update outdates faucets, finishes, and fixtures

  • All light bulbs are in working order

  • All clutter is eliminated

  • Cosmetic defects are remediated (so long as their economically feasible)

  • Upgrade wattage of light bulbs in darker areas

  • Recaulk around bathroom fixtures, kitchen countertops, and showers

  • Reduce personalization, remove anything that illuminates political or religious viewpoints


Recommendations for properly staging a home and preparing for a move, whether it is across town or across the county.

  • Rent a storage locker (or pod) and move out any unnecessary belongings or furniture (especially in areas of interest such as the master bedroom, kitchen, family room, and basement)

  • Organize your closets and utility rooms. I’ve never EVER had a buyer say a property has too much storage.

  • Reduce limits to accessibility – remove pets for showings, reduce any showing restrictions possible (24 hour notice reduce showings significantly), confirm showing appointments ASAP.

Bottom Line. Selling your home is a process. No matter the price-point, you'll want to show the home in the best possible light. The goal is to illuminate the property's characteristics and portray an enjoyable lifestyle. You must allowing potential buyers to see themselves live in the home. Homes in higher price points typically take more effort to get sold than those in lower price points. It's important to listen to the advice of your realtor when it comes to pricing a home. The #1 factor in homes not selling is price. Starting off with too high of a price causes the home to see more days on market and leads potential buyers to believe there are flaws with the home.

If you're interested in selling your home and would like to know more about my marketing plan - feel free to reach out here: Contact Kevin.

#KHRealEstate #PearsonSmithRealty #NorthernVirginia #Realtor #HomeStaging #LoudounCounty #Tips #ListingAgent

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