Are you in selling mode for your current home? With housing prices on the rise again in many regions, it’s transitioning into a seller’s market once again. However, arbitrary increased value for your home is not enough to get more from a prospective buyer. If the home itself is not presentable inside and out, you may unknowingly be lowering the value of your home. Through researching the tactics and opinions of professional “home stagers,” we’ve compiled a master list for you to refer to when getting ready to put your house on the market; believe me, completing this list will be no cakewalk, but the check the buyer cuts you will be that much better.
First thing’s first, let’s get the large costly things out of the way:
Update as much of the house as possible: Let’s be honest, stucco ceilings, retro linoleum, and fluorescent lighting used to be big, but this is the 21st century; modern buyers are looking for a modern home, so contact your trusted contractor for ideas about how to modernize your home.
If you’re not replacing it, fix it: After any restorations have been made, it’s a good idea to give the whole house a thorough once-over to find any quick-fixes, such as squeaky floors, creaky doors, and stuck door locks. It can be distracting for potential buyers when looking through the house and can portray a poor condition of the house.
Not just clean…SUPER clean: No one wants to buy a dirty house, so you have to block out a whole weekend to detail clean everything–and I mean everything. If it sits on your property, make sure it is spic and span even if you don’t think any buyers will see it; it’ll be just your luck that they decide to look in that closet you didn’t clean and run for the hills. If you don’t feel like doing the work yourself, contact a professional cleaning or maid service to get your residence up to snuff.
Now that everything is fixed, it’s time to talk aesthetics:
Does your house look amazing or abandoned? Part of your home’s appeal will also be how it looks from the curb as this is also the unshakeable first impression for the property. The exterior needs to look just as good as the interior, so make sure that the grass is mowed, the walls and garage door are clean, the roof is solid, and there is no junk strewn all over the place. Also adding some nice plant life, either along a walkway or in pots, can make the home look immediately more lively. Use a bold, clean color for the front door because that is the first point of contact.
A first impression in the foyer: After a buyer walks up the walkway, you want their first view of the interior to be a positive one. Don’t scare them away with dirty boots, junk piles in a corner or an overstuffed closet with too many coats. The entryway to your home should be clean and inviting so make sure there is more to greet a buyer then a weathered old “Welcome” mat.
Don’t have boring walls, but also don’t go crazy: When doing the initial remodeling, you may want to keep the wall colors in mind. Your color palette should utilize warm but neutral colors to make the home seem more inviting. Perhaps keeping each room’s function in mind will also help you choose an appropriate color. In modern homes, it is also acceptable to have cool colors like soft blues and greens (which may be good for bathrooms).
Don’t block the walkways: If you were a pack rat while living in the house, that cannot show when people start coming by to see the house. Clutter control is quintessential to taking your guests on the grand tour to make everything seem orderly and easy to navigate. If there was ever an incentive to spring clean and get rid of extra stuff, selling your house is definitely it!
Keep furniture varied and evenly spaced: When it comes to the furniture throughout the house, less is more. Having just a few well-placed pieces of furniture away from the room walls gives the feeling of spaciousness in the home. Furniture pieces should also be varied to keep things interesting, so don’t put matching sets all in one room. To give a room a more social feeling, arrange chairs, couches, futons, etc. to all face one another.
Back in Black: Having trouble getting rid of some of your old furniture? Maybe you just can’t afford a new dining room set or coffee table. To give that weathered furniture a fresh look, paint it black. Many bumps and bruises will be disguised by the sleekness black offers. Repaint your chairs, tables, nightstands, and side tables to instantly update the decor!
Let there be light: Unless you are a vampire or developing old black-and-white film, you should ensure that there is plenty of light in the home because you want potential buyers to actually be able to SEE your lovely home. Well-lit areas convey a sense of serenity and warmth so windows should not be covered by heavy drapes; instead, use translucent covering to let in the light. For rooms without good natural lighting, evenly-spaced cap lights or soft-light lamps can make all the difference.
Art should accent the architectural angles: No matter what kind of design your home has, the things you fill it with should be used to accentuate it to make everything seem more streamlined and open. For example, don’t just line your artwork in basic horizontal arrangements; try shapes or diagonal lines (great for staircase walls) instead to break up any monotony from room to room. Your furniture should also be placed along natural design lines of a room for maneuverability.
The bedroom is the temple in the house: If there is one room that needs to excel in comfort and relaxation, it’s where you sleep. The essence of the bedroom should be light and airy. Make excellent use of warm but neutral colors to truly make someone feel at home. Don’t overload the bed itself with too many accent pillows or crazy comforter designs.
Show off your storage space: Much like someone who needs a bigger car, extra storage space is always a good selling point. People have stuff and need to put it somewhere after all. However, make sure to clear out your own stuff when showing off large closets, garages, attics, or basements. Store your own stuff off the property in a paid storage unit or at a friend’s house until you sell the house. It’s been suggested that about a third or more of your stuff should be taken out of the house.
Don’t be random with accessories: Do you like arranging things on top of your tables and drawers? Well you better, because believe it or not, there is method to the madness of arranging objects such as plants, books, vases, sculptures and other tabletop accessories. Experts have suggested that humans naturally survey things from left to right (just like reading), so it is suggested that you arrange objects in a row in ascending levels of complexity and being interesting. Also arranging things on a table in shapes of varying sizes can also be striking.
Be leafy green, inside and out: Many people mistake making your home modern with being sterile, making naturalistic things relatively absent. Strategically placed plant life around the home can add liveliness as well as natural smells that are pleasing to the eye and nose. This is not to say you need to make your home look like a hobbit hole from Lord of the Rings, but just enough to offset the calculated aesthetic of the home design. Keeping the plant life seasonal is also a great touch.
Now that the house looks presentable, here are some other things to keep in mind before inviting the buyers over:
Use a room the way it was meant to be used: We all get used to moving stuff around over the years depending on our needs. If you eat most of your meals in the den and use the dining room for storing stuff, it’s time to put the dining room set back in. You have to make the house appeal to as many people as possible, so that means making every room a template for what could be. It’s hard for a family to imagine eating dinner in the dining room when you have boxes of papers stacked up.
Reuse and recycle unused space for something creative: Do you have a spare bedroom or office in which you use for storage? A corner or nook that sits gathering cobwebs? You may be just wasting that space. Why not turn that bedroom into an exercise room or that old office into a game room. Special uses of space present possibilities to potential buyers to drum up more interest in your home.
No smell is the best smell: Some people assume that burning incense or scented candles make the house smell good, but this is not a good idea. You may never know what a buyer will find pleasant, so it’s better be odor-neutral than guess whether they will like lavender or fresh baked cookie smell. Of course, if certain things around the house smell because of pets or kids, some carefully-used Fabreze won’t go amiss.
Erase your own personal touches: The home has to act as template for potential buyers, so it must be staged to accommodate as many people as possible. Anything that screams a particular lifestyle should be removed, whether it is your Beanie Baby collection or your taxidermy show pieces, you don’t want to take a chance displaying something that would chase off a buyer. Regular personal items such as toothbrushes, family pictures, and children’s toys should also be removed.
Get feedback from someone your trust: When all is said and done, invite either a relative or close friend you trust to give you their honest opinion about what they think of your staged home. We all have our own opinions about what looks good, but it’s always important to remember that you are not staging the house to impress yourself but others. A second, third, and even a fourth outside opinion can help you notice things you might not have otherwise.
The preparations are made and the house looks spectacular. Now it’s time for you to play host while either you or a trained realtor move into sell mode for a lucky buyer who will soon call your home their own.