There are many television shows today that focus on home staging. They all say the same thing: do not even consider putting your house on the market until you have taken a close look at its condition.
You never have a second chance to make a first impression. To get the best price for your home in the shortest amount of time, here are several strategies for setting the stage and making prospective buyers feel right at home.
1. The Basics
Everything from the floors to windows (including skylights) must be spotless. Remember to clean the oven and other major appliances as well. Kill the offensive odours as they’re the first thing buyers notice, and often a permanent turnoff. Organize closets and put away small kitchen appliances and other items that are sitting on countertops and tables. Finally, living (not artificial) plants go hand-in-hand with nearly any home staging theme.
2. Depersonalize and Declutter
Remove photos and other objects that are very personal from your home. Emphasizing a room’s unique features, such as wainscoting or crown molding, rather than your furnishings and other belongings, will help buyers picture themselves living there. Your knickknacks may bring back memories of family vacations, but tiny souvenirs and scattered memorabilia only make a room look messy to outsiders.
3. Shed Some Light
Good light is key for buyers. Clean your windows, take down old dark drapes, increase the wattage of your light bulbs for maximum effect, and turn on all the lights for showings.
4. Quick Fixes
Forget about extensive, expensive and time-consuming overhauls or renos. Quick fixes like a paint job using neutral colours, touching up hardwood floors, and replacing light switches and cabinet hardware are well worth a trip to your local hardware store.
5. Storage and Space
Storage is a top priority for many prospective buyers. Look at ways to improve the storage space in your home, such as adding shelving to closets and storage rooms. To showcase the space you have, an excellent rule of thumb is to remove half the items from your closets and then neatly organize what’s left. Also, remove excess furniture to make rooms appear more spacious. Renting storage space for extraneous furniture will be well worth it when you get your sale.
6. Tips for Vacant Homes
Vacant homes often greet Realtors and home buyers with a blast of stale or mildew-laden air. As soon as buyers smell mildew, they are out the door. Deal with the mildew before you list the house.
Have you ever noticed that during colder months the interior of a house without heat always feels colder than it is outside? Leaving the heat or air conditioning running while a home is on the market reduces odours and makes the house more inviting. Keep the lawn and landscaping tidy, even if you have to hire someone to do it.
7. Create a Mood
Is there a mood that you’d like to create? If you’re near water, how about breezy fabrics and blue-green colours that remind us of the beach? If you’re in the mountains, perhaps you could go rustic. Study the house, brainstorm, and speak to your friends or family members about possible ideas.
Bake cookies or bread before showings, or place a fresh loaf in a basket on the counter to create a warm and homey atmosphere.
Classical music playing softly in the background is nice, but choose something that enhances the mood you are trying to create. For example, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, locals and out of town buyers react positively to Appalachian folk music playing softly in the background.
8. Curb Appeal
When a potential buyer pulls into your driveway, you want the exterior of your home to beckon them inside. Keep your sidewalks and driveway clear, mow your lawn, trim the bushes, and apply a fresh coat of paint to shutters and porch steps. Here are other elements you can add to grab a buyer’s attention before they walk in the door:
- Clean the drain gutters. Buyers almost always comment if gutters are full of leaves and it makes them question other maintenance issues.
- Store or organize items that make the yard look messy.
- Make your front entry inviting. Decorate it, paint the door or buy a new door. It’s the first look at your house, so make it a good one.
- Use outdoor lighting. It does wonders in the evenings when many homebuyers do drive-bys of properties.
- Enhance landscaping.
A great overall impression is often enough to make a buyer more lenient about minor repairs that may be required. You want them to fall in love with the house as soon as they see it from the street.