Staging a home in the fall

Front Page Oct 17, 2013

Photo: Rosemary Ratcliff /

Photo: Rosemary Ratcliff /
By Lisa Reis
Now that the kids are back in school and vacation season is over, many homeowners focus on selling their home. The fall season is the second most popular season for staging, after spring.

Once the cold, windy days of November roll around and holiday party season starts up, the number of buyers interested in open houses dwindles.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words and in the eyes of a prospective homebuyer, the marketing of the home starts with photos.

It’s true what they say – that a home is actually sold four times: first is online, second is the curb appeal, the third is when buyers walk through the door and fourth is when the transaction takes place.

Those first few moments matter the most. Just like a first impression when you’re meeting someone, the home needs to make a favourable impression for the conversation to continue. Here are some things to focus on, so your prospective homebuyers will fall in love with the home.

Autumn curb appeal – When leaves are falling and flowers are dying, it’s more important than ever to ensure the front (and back) yards are well landscaped. Touch up paint at the front entrance, on the garage door (and the house itself if the exterior is painted). The eavestroughs should be cleaned out; it’s not fun to have to do these repairs in cold weather, so best to do this early in the season or late summer. Make sure recycling bins are neatly tucked away.

here’s no need to go all out with Halloween décor – a simple fall door mat, door wreath and some fall mums in planters and a trio of pumpkins will do the trick.

Make sure the yard and flowerbeds are kept clean of falling leaves. It can be a chore, but your seller will want the home to look well-kept when visitors walk up to the front door. You don’t want them to feel like the house will require a lot of maintenance.

Create a warm and cosy ambience – When you have a prospective buyer touring the home, you want their first impression to be positive so they can become emotionally attached to the home and they can imagine themselves living there. As the days get chilly, we all want to be in a cosy home. Once you’ve drawn potential buyers in, make them realize how comfortable they’d be during fall and all year-round. Create cosy nooks and crannies.

Stack firewood in the fireplace, have the fireplace turned on (and if it’s not working, that would be something to put on the repair list versus having to make it a negotiating factor to lower the sale price). Add some comfy touches like laying out the homeowner’s favourite blanket (drape luxurious throws over the side of the couch). Turn on some ambient, inviting music during the open house. Put out a few decorative candles (the battery operated kind…some potential buyers might have allergies or dislike certain fragrances). Make sure all the rooms are well lit and if possible with energy efficient “warm light” bulbs – the ones that give off a yellow glow. There’s nothing more unappealing than that clinical white, energy-efficient lighting.

The bedrooms should have fluffy duvets, fresh linen and an inviting throw. Don’t overdo pillows, three per bed will do. Ensure dressers are bare and the home is void of any personal family photos, which distracts the buyer. In some cases photos can even make potential buyers empathize why they shouldn’t take this home away from the family unit.

Ensure the kitchen counter is clutter free and that the cabinets and closets, including the linen closet, are all neatly organized, because like it or not, homebuyers peek.
Lisa Reis is a Certified Interior Decorator and Certified CSP Home Stager. She’s the founder of and recently co-authored “Home Staging Secrets”, which hit the Best Seller’s list in its first week (real estate category). She’s active on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.