“We need to do something about that.” Judy O’Brien, my real estate agent, thoughtfully considered my refrigerator. Covered in photos and postcards attached with my quirky-or so I thought-magnet collection, it was almost impossible to discern the stainless steel finish.
Then Judy opened the refrigerator door, and shook her head. “And that, too,” she announced, pointing a finger at the leftover takeout, pre-made salads and endless cans of diet soda.
Judy, a weathered pro, was used to dealing with first-time sellers and launched into instructions. “I want to be able see my reflection in your fridge,” she said. “I want to open the door and imagine the joy of living in this home.”
“So remove the postcards and stock the fridge with champagne and caviar?” I asked, catching on.
“Well, caviar might be a bit over the top,” she replied. “But you get the picture.”
Why Staging Matters
Decluttering, cleaning and depersonalizing a space – what the real estate industry calls staging – is nothing new. The National Association of Realtors’ RealtorMag says that a well-staged space invites potential buyers in and helps them imagine themselves living there.
But stage your refrigerator? With many buyers purchasing the appliances present in the homes, the state of one’s refrigerator can be a legitimate concern. Buyers tend to look everywhere; behind every door, and inside every cabinet and every drawer. They inspect your washer and dryer, your dishwasher and oven, and, of course, your fridge.
So just like you organize your closets and wipe down your washing machine for an open house, you might consider primping your fridge for the scrutiny of its lifetime.
3 Steps to Staging a Refrigerator
So how exactly do you go about it? Here are some tips:
Step 1: Declutter.
I like my magnets, but the ad executive who’s going to buy my condo may not. Remove everything from your fridge door, and then give the refrigerator a good cleaning: Go through the contents and throw out any items that are not fresh, or essential. That jar of pickles lurking on the bottom shelf that you thought you’d thrown out last year? That might be a good candidate to toss.
Step 2: Clean.
Even the most hygienic among us have stains, crumbs or sticky spots in our fridges. But your buyer doesn’t have to know that! Empty your fridge completely and remove any drawers. Then clean the interior from back to front and from top to bottom. Defrost, if necessary. Remember how spotless it was when you first bought it? Double that, and you’re halfway there.
Step 3: Stock.
Here’s the tricky, but fun part. You need to stock your fridge with items that look great and appeal to your potential buyer. Maybe it’s appealing to a foodie with a wedge of Parmesan, cultured butter and some cured meats, or simply stocking a healthy fridge or perfectly organizing it to appeal to busy families. If your home is near a farmer’s market or a premium grocery store, you might leave items in their original containers to play up that proximity. Whatever you do, arrange it all nicely: Group similar items together, and use bins if you need to.
Yes, this may involve buying a few new items. And no, you probably shouldn’t eat and drink everything after your first open house … unless all of it’s perishable. (Note to self: go for fancy jars over fancy veggies and fruit.) And while you may never know whether it’s your newly staged fridge that did the trick, you’ll certainly enjoy the kick these items give your last few meals in your newly sold home.