Want to sell your house in half the time it normally takes? Set the stage for buyers. A lot of buyers have fallen prey to expectations based on the shows they see on HGTV and other channels -- they expect each home they enter to look more like a showcase than a home for sale. That can create problems for sellers whether they're still living there or not. Proper staging can be expensive.
Here are a few ways to do it on the cheap:
1. Clear out the bathroom and give it a quick overhaul.
Go through all the extra soap bottles, shampoo bottles, and makeup that tends to collect in a bathroom and either toss or pack about 80 percent of it. Leave out only the essentials. Get a soap tray and invest in some homemade soap -- lavender soap or mint can be especially attractive and keep a bathroom smelling fresh.
Experts also suggest a quick and inexpensive overhaul of your towels, washcloths, bath mats, and shower curtains -- all in spa white. That triggers the idea of luxury in a prospective buyer's mind.
2. Clean out the closets and cupboards.
Buyers are always worried about space and there's a simple way to create the illusion that you have more than you need: Pack up everything that's not meant to be worn for the current season and put it in storage. That not only gets your packing started, it helps you make your closets seem extra roomy.
Do the same thing for your cupboards. If you're like most people, there are things sitting around your kitchen cupboards that you've only used once or dry and canned goods that have been there for a year. Yank them out and either pack them up or donate them.
3. Declutter and depersonalize the decor.
Clutter is the number one enemy when you're showing your home. Go through the house with a brutally critical eye and put away all of the little knickknacks you've collected over the years. If a spot looks too bare, replace the curiosities with fresh flowers or a stack of books. Pay attention to papers, too. Clean the fridge of notes and artwork and put all your personal papers and bills somewhere tucked out of sight.
You also want to depersonalize your home a bit -- particularly, remove family photos. You want buyers to see themselves in the home -- not your family. One trick is to haunt thrift stores and pick up nice pictures for a few dollars each to hang in their place. Another is to print out photos you've taken of scenery -- last winter's snow or fall leaves, maybe -- and just slip them in the existing frames over your family pictures.
There you go! Staging that can be done quickly, easily, and on a shoestring budget -- plus methods that will help you get started packing. However, if you're really struggling to look at things with a critical eye -- and that's a common problem -- consider hiring a professional interior design and home staging service. They can go through a place quickly and dispassionately -- which can help you sell your current home faster and move you to your dream home sooner.