By Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications

There are all sorts of theories as to the best way to get your house ready to show on the market. Check out any of those shows where they flip houses on HGTV and you’ll learn that there are definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to home staging. Most military or veteran families can not afford a professional stager, so we’ve put together some staging basics to help you get your house sold.

  1. Declutter

I know it seems like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at the clutter that you don’t see because you are used to it. One time, I was appalled when looking at pictures taken of my family in front of the living room fireplace. It looked fine in person decorated with a couple of family photos, a couple of candles and a little greenery. In the photo, it looked like a jumbled mess, but I had just gotten used to seeing it every day.

  1. Put away everything!

This means clear all flat surfaces to include counter tops, bars, and tables. If you typically leave your keys on a table or cabinet in the front hallway, place them in a drawer instead.  Newspapers kept in a basket next to your reading chair should go into the recycling bin immediately after reading. Clearing all the miscellaneous stuff off of your flat surfaces will create a light and airy feeling.

  1. Purge

Get rid of anything you don’t need.  Throw out those toiletries you’ve moved around to several houses. Clear your book shelves of books you’ve already read or know that you never will. Creating space, whether it’s in a closet, on a book shelf, or in a cabinet gives potential buyers/renters the impression of space. A closet jammed with clothes in every inch makes a buyer/renter question whether their clothes will fit.

  1. De-personalize

This doesn’t mean put away every single family photo, but you want potential buyers/renters to be able to visualize themselves in the space. So put 90% of the personal stuff away and choose neutral artwork such as nature photos to create the vibe you want.

  1. Clean!

Floors, walls, light fixtures – anything that collects dust and grime. I’ve walked into houses and knew instantly we weren’t going to buy or rent because of a strong odor or something gross like a sticky stovetop.

  1. Have a fresh eye look at your furniture placement

I once had a girlfriend “redecorate” my living room. She moved my furniture around in ways I never thought of, and she pulled some décor from my master bedroom to freshen things up in our main living space. Sometimes a fresh eye is just what you need to get you out of a decorating rut.

  1. Put the pet supplies away

Fido may be a member of your family, but pet-less owners/renters may be turned off.  Make sure all the pet toys are put away, and the pet bed should only be pulled out when the house is not being shown.

  1. Watch what’s cooking!

You don’t want potential buyers/renters to be able to smell what you had for dinner.  Stay away from cooking items such as eggs, broccoli, and fish. Light candles or open a window after each meal.

  1. Tackle that Storage Room, …..‘er Guest Room

If you are currently using a space as a storage room, remove the clutter and stage the room the way you think your buyers will use it. That second-floor bedroom should be staged as a bedroom. Get the boxes or exercise equipment out of there.

  1. Pay attention to curb appeal

Clean up the landscaping and mow the lawn. Arrange outdoor furniture. Weed the garden. Clean the pool. Spruce up your outdoor living area so potential buyers/renters can envision their own outdoor entertaining. What tips do you have for getting your house ready for market? Tell us below!

For additional articles on decorating your home, utilizing the VA Home Loan, or just PCSing in general, visit Your one stop shop for PCSing.

Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Director, previously served as the Director of Communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the Media/Community Relations Officer for the Delaware Department of Transportation. She has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel, their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.