If you are planning to sell your home anytime soon, now would be a good time to think about getting ready to show your home in the very best light. Realtors® like to describe it as “Staging your Home” for sale. There are numerous books and even a TV show about the topic but it generally gets down to just a few key points. Before your home goes on the market it needs to be cleaned, brightened, de-cluttered and neutralized. Then you can set the stage.
It often takes “tough love” on the part of your realtor® to get your home sold. Your real estate agent must be honest with you about your homes appearance even if it hurts your feelings. It might not be easy to tell someone their home is dirty or that it has a pet odor. But hopefully, when you choose a real estate agent to market your home, he or she will agree that a house that is clean, de-cluttered, bright & neutralized will often sell for thousands of dollars more than one that isn’t. In the end you might be embarrassed about the “tough love” approach but you’ll have more money in your pocket at the closing.
CLEAN Buyers will often overlook your home’s best features if your home doesn’t meet their standards of cleanliness. Do a “spring cleaning” before you put your home on the market, no matter what the season. Pay special attention to kitchens and baths but scrub and dust all surfaces, clean windows and shampoo rugs. Be sure to eliminate cobwebs even in the basement. Wipe off the top of the furnace. Even a newer furnace gives the wrong impression if it looks sooty. Don’t just wash the walls if they really need painting. Don’t use the excuse that the new buyer will want to paint anyway. First impressions do matter.
DECLUTTER Whatever you want to call it, you probably have too much “stuff”in your home to show it to its best potential. All those porcelain statues, wall hangings, and country critters are only a distraction to potential buyers. Many of your favorite knick knacks really need to be put away temporarily along with your refrigerator magnet collection. Some photographs on the walls are fine but try to limit them to just a few. Remember that buyers want to visualize homes with their own “stuff” so they need to be able to look beyond yours. Too much furniture can also give your home the appearance of being cramped. Once you’ve de-cluttered, have a garage sale or consider renting a storage facility temporarily especially for that extra furniture.
And while you are at it, now is also a good time to get rid of those old paint cans. Most buyers are not going to use your old paint for “touch ups”. Many closings have been disrupted while buyers demand that your “stuff” including those paint cans be removed. Unless otherwise agreed upon, buyers expect your home to be vacant on the day of closing. Take the time before you put your home on the market to get rid of all hazardous materials including paint cans, cleaning materials, automotive fluids, garden chemicals, fertilizers etc.
BRIGHTEN It might be time to take down the heavy drapes and curtains and let in the sunshine. Unless used for privacy, sometimes no curtains are your best bet. “The house is too dark” is a common complaint from buyers. Dark paneling? You might want to consider painting it off-white. Most people really don’t like paneling, fake or real, so painting over paneling is a good option. If your home doesn’t naturally let in the sun, then artificial lighting may be the answer. Turn on all those lights before a showing. Be sure to use the highest wattage bulbs your light fixtures will handle. And when a thoughtless agent leaves the lights on after a showing, try to remember that the few extra pennies in electricity you spent to light up your home were worth it.
NEUTRALIZE A minor investment in neutralizing your home will pay back in a quicker sale for a higher price. Most buyers will find the prospect of stripping your bright flowered wallpaper a major inconvenience and might pass your home up to find one easier to decorate. Dark or bright colored carpeting will not appeal to most buyers. Red countertops in the kitchen could kill your chances for a quick sell. While neutral tones throughout might seem dull, most buyers prefer to buy a home they can decorate in their own tones.
Now that you’ve cleaned, brightened, de-cluttered and neutralized your home, it is time to stage it. Set your house the same way you would set a stage. A few “props” here and there can create an appealing scene. Having something baking in the oven may sound corny but it certainly gives potential buyers a warm feeling of home. Put special towels and soap out in the bathroom. Place a centerpiece on your table. Fresh flowers inside and outside are very welcoming. Toss a pretty throw blanket across your bed. Fill small bowls with potpourri. Nothing expensive! Little things that don’t cost a lot can make a big difference.
Now it’s show time! Please make your home easy to view. Having your home on the market is not convenient. Although it shouldn’t happen, agents can arrive later or earlier than anticipated. If you home is difficult to show then it will be difficult to sell. Buyers who arrive from out of town and only have a few days of looking want to be able to schedule appointments quickly and not wait 24 hours. The good news is that if your home is clean, de-cluttered, bright, & neutralized you won’t have to put up with the inconvenience for very long!