When you list your home, the process can be overwhelming and full of uncertainty. Where do you start? And how much do you really need to do to make sure your house doesn't linger on the market?
Well, consider this your secret formula—straight from the pros—for getting your place sold fast.
It all comes down to simple decor touches that can give your home a glow and make buyers want to snap it up before anyone else takes a look. But on the other hand, there are a few things that can leave buyers with an unfavorable impression of your home—and send them toward the exit.
Here are the decor items you should put out—and the ones you should hide far, far away—to make your home as buyer-friendly as possible.
1. Fresh flowers
Fresh flowers can make any space feel warm and inviting, and buyers will perceive that a home with well-cared for succulents and orchids is itself well-cared for.
"I love to create unique floral arrangements to place in key spaces like the dining room, master bedroom, and living room," says Washington, DC–based decorator and real estate agent Amber Harris of At Home DC. "Artificial flowers can supplement fresh florals, but [you can] 'wow' buyers with fresh-cut stems."
And it's not enough to display plants and flowers the day of an open house—any photos on your home's listing should include greenery to catch the eye of potential buyers.
2. Well Placed Mirrors
Mirrors can brighten up a room and make it appear larger. If you don't have high ceilings and oversize windows, use strategically placed mirrors to easily enhance a space when your house is on the market.
"Mirrors are an optimal way to create the illusion of larger rooms and draw attention to a home’s entertaining and kitchen areas," says Lara Rhoades Ewing, a Realtor® who's with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, VA. "Mirrors are also a better bet over paintings, which can turn off certain buyers."
A large mirror on the wall of a small room can also add dimension to the space, making it more pleasing to the eye. Place mirrors near windows to get the added benefit of reflected light in the room.
3. Area rugs
Spaces with wood, tile, or luxury vinyl flooring can appear cold and lackluster without an area rug to brighten it and add warmth. Worse, sofas and chairs placed on bare floors can give the impression that the owners didn't care enough to finish the room.
"Light and bright area rugs give way to defining the space," says certified interior decorator Dawn Earles of Dawn Earles Design, in Waterford, VA. "They also bring texture to the room, making the room more inviting to buyers."
4. Fresh towels
Make a beeline to your local home furnishings store to stock up on fresh, never-been-used towels, as well as bathmats and doormats.
"No matter how clean your bath and dish towels, they’ll never be new again," Harris says. "Buy new towels and place them strategically. A small investment leaves a great first impression."
Fluffy, matching towel sets can make any bathroom feel luxurious, as if it's in a five-star hotel. And buyers will want to envision themselves in that space.
5. (Good) lighting
A dark house will not sell quickly, so you need to find a way to bring light in.
"Lighting is key to making a home shine," Earles says.
She suggests following the rule of three to illuminate your home. That means having three sources of light (e.g., two table lamps and one floor lamp), all with clear, incandescent lightbulbs. Light-colored accessories can also help make a space pop.
6. Glass tables
You might be seeing a theme by now: Making your home look good is all about making it look lighter, brighter, and bigger. Glass tables, whether coffee tables or end tables, are an outstanding tool to have in your home seller's toolbox.
"Glass tables with metal hardware help reflect light and visually creates open space," Earles says.
7. The color blue
The color blue is scientifically proven to make people feel calmer and more relaxed. But we're not talking about splashing blue across your house. That may have the opposite effect, sending buyers back out the door, never to set foot in your house again.
Instead, look to large pieces of abstract art in shades of teal and blue to evoke a calming vibe, Earles suggests.
Decor items to ditch
1. Anything political, religious, or even collegiate (including T-shirts)
If a debate can erupt over anything in your house, get rid of it. Or, at the very least, make sure it's out of sight. We're talking "Make America Great Again" hats (and even just red hats), campaign bumper stickers, church bulletins, and even college diplomas.
(Yes, a college diploma seems innocuous, but it's entirely possible that a prospective buyer may be turned off by the sight of a diploma, bumper sticker, or any kind of memorabilia from a rival school.)
"I always advise clients to depolarize and neutralize their home before listing to unmark their territory," Ewing says. "Make a home look as though you are ready to move on, and don't forget about refrigerator items."
2. Collections and anthologies
You may not be present for showings, but if your home is filled with a very personal collection, whether it's vintage vinyl records, National Geographic magazines, or "Star Wars" collectibles (no matter how rare), your unwanted presence will definitely be looming over buyers viewing your home.
Worse, all of those accumulated objects give buyers the impression that your house is smaller than it is.
"Don't leave buyers questioning whether there is adequate storage space in your home," Harris says. "Instead of bookcases filled with classic book collections, mix a few favorites with interesting accessories."
3. Any personal items, no matter how small
You probably already know you should remove family portraits from your home before a showing. But it's more than photos. Remove anything that reveals much about your personality or lifestyle, like marathon medals, refrigerator magnets, or cosplay costumes.
"It is critical to leave space for buyers to place themselves in your home," Harris says.