Staging for Success

It would be wonderful if a crew from HGTV would magically appear when we’re getting our home ready to present to potential buyers.  The reality is that this will be a “DIY” project.  Have you ever wondered how to prepare your house for sale?  Follow these simple tips to help your home appeal to the broadest market of buyers while accentuating its best features and amenities.

1.  De-Clutter:  Sounds simple, but you must be ruthless.  Your goal is to allow a buyer to envision themselves living in your space.  Remove as many personal items and knick-knacks as possible.  Your bowling trophies and family photo walls position the house as yours, instead of a potential new owner.  Clean off tabletops, get the magnets off the refrigerator (and clear the top of the refrigerator!), review artwork to make sure it doesn’t distract and stow personal items and toiletries in bathrooms and bedrooms.  Make sure your rooms look like their intended purpose: Keeping your treadmill in the dining room might be convenient for your exercise regimen, but it won’t help a new buyer envision a family gathering at holidays. Reducing personal items and defining room purpose also lets the natural architecture of your home speak for itself, as well as allowing shoppers to envision new possibilities.

2.  Calling Mr. Clean:  Your goal is to have your home appear “move in ready” at every showing.  Get in and really clean those nooks and crannies that are easy to overlook in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.  Dust ceiling fan blades, clean baseboards, and check doors, handles and frames for pesky fingerprints.  Make sure your windows sparkle!  It’s amazing how clean windows can boost the appearance of a room.  We want buyers to focus on the natural beauty of your home, and not a stray dust bunny.  Are you including any appliances with your home sale?  Make sure they’re squeaky clean.  You might consider hiring a professional cleaning crew to do the initial “heavy lifting,” leaving it easier for you to maintain with light, daily cleanings throughout the showing period.

3.  Organize:  I recently opened a closet door in a house that was on the market, and a box of sporting goods tumbled out (and bounced off my head)!  Buyers WILL open your closets and open your built-in cabinets.  They need to make sure the house has room for all of their stuff. Your goal is to have your house say “I have plenty of room for everything!”  Invest in some inexpensive plastic tubs for seasonal items, extra clothes or hobby materials.  Label the tubs, then stack them neatly in the garage. Most home improvement stores offer low-cost organization solutions for closets like stand alone shelving, shoe racks and more.  Your closets will look neat, organized and ready to take on the challenge of new owners.

4.  Paint:  No matter how spotless your home, paint can grow dull over time.  A fresh coat of interior paint adds a special spark to your home.  If you love vivid colors and have included them on the walls of your home, now is the time to cover them with a neutral paint color.  While you may find some shoppers who share your passion for purple, most consider non-traditional colors a negative (and view those walls as work they will have to tackle when they move in).  You can go back to your custom color palette in your new abode, but neutral is the key when selling your current home.

5.  The Great Outdoors:  Think about what buyers will see as they park and walk to your front door.  Is your lawn neatly trimmed or raked?  A couple of bags of fresh mulch make flower beds and walkways look sharp.  Is your front porch making the best first impression possible?  Sweep, add fresh flowers if the weather is warm, and invest in a fresh welcome mat.  Consider re-painting your front door or adding a simple seating area if your porch has room.  You know what they say:  “You never have a second chance…”  Cast a critical eye to the back of your home, as well.  Outdoor living opportunities can add value to your home.  Round up toys (from children or pets) and sporting goods.  Would this be a good time to refresh patio furniture cushions?  Paint the picnic table?  Get that chiminea or fire pit you’ve been wanting?   Make potential buyers think “hey!  I’d like to spend some time out here!”

6.  A Second Opinion:  You’ve worked hard to get your house show-ready.  Ask your realtor or a friend to walk through your home and view it as a potential buyer.  You might be surprised at some of the simple suggestions (“Hey – why don’t you get some fresh throw pillows for the sofa?”) that could have a big impact.

7.  Show Time!  When it’s time for your first showing, take a few extra steps to improve your home’s ambiance.  Turn on the lights!  All of them!  Don’t make buyers fumble to find your light switches, and your home shows better when it’s bright.  Help the mood by setting your dining room table, setting up game tables in family rooms, or placing a vase of fresh flowers in the kitchen.  Savvy sellers have even been known to bake a quick batch of cookies before showings so their homes smell delicious.  Don’t have that kind of time?  Consider burning an apple pie-scented candle as you’re “fluffing” your house.

Following these suggestions will help your home sell itself by appealing to the widest pool of potential buyers.  A little bit of pre-sale work can result in faster sales and better prices.  Good luck!

 

Published: February 16, 2012