I have personally sold close to 400 homes in the past 8 years. The majority of those homes were in the Phoenix west valley, Goodyear, Avondale, Buckeye and Litchfield Park. This blog topic is meant to share with you what I have learned about staging, or more appropriately, preparing your home to sell in any market quickly.
Most people equate the term “Staging” with an interior decorator that will charge you big bucks to move your furniture out and move their leased furniture in. That is an option, but not necessary. There are services that will help you use what you already have and consult with you for a fee. And I do recommend this type of service. If you want to go it alone, that is okay too. Below are 10 ways you can get your house ready.
1. Kick the CLUTTER!
Inevitably, you will be moving… That typically happens when you sell your house (yes, I can be a wise guy). So, it just makes sense that you should de-clutter as soon as possible. That means dividing the things/stuff you must have to live and the things you can do without. The things you can do without need to go somewhere else, like storage or the new house if you already purchased, or a relatives place. It is not gone forever; it is just somewhere waiting for you. Less stuff is a good thing; it makes it easier to move as well as makes the house show better.
2. Clean. When you are done cleaning, clean again!
Yes, we are talking drill sergeant clean! If you are looking for top dollar, and I know you are…. First de-clutter, then clean the house yourself, then hire a professional to clean it again. Sound like over-kill. It is not. For an additional few hundred dollars you will save yourself a few thousand in time and a more desirable home that will yield higher offers.
3. Furniture-How much and where:
Less is more! Removing furniture that is worn and tattered is a good thing. Mismatched items can be a distraction for potential home-buyers. When in doubt, get it out! Accessories are important for your tables and flat surfaces, it breaks up the room and gives the people viewing the house something to aim for and remember your house. Use what you have. But if you feel like you don’t have much to stage with, remember, fresh flowers arrangements can be re-assigned from your garden. The price is right, and you don’t have to go far to get them.
4. Art work- a picture is worth a thousand words.
We know you love your aunt & uncle, grandparents and cousins. However, a potential buyer may feel uncomfortable in a house with all those strangers’ on the wall watching as they view your home for the first time. However, Art work is beautiful and non-judgmental of buyers viewing your home. Photographs of babies are okay to leave up. A simple piece of art or a benign photo breaks up the wall and can create a feeling of warmth in a room.
5. I can’t see, it is too dark in here!
Turn some light on. In fact, turn them all on! Yes, more light is better. If you have venetian blinds, turn them so the light hits the floor. Leave lights on in the bathrooms, hallways and certainly the kitchen. Utilize the stove top lighting as well as the oven light. All this light will make the house look more spacious and clean and inviting. Lighting can make or break a home. Use it to your advantage!
6. Fresh paint.
Yes, it is possible to go overboard here. Keep it simple. Two to four colors should do it. If you are not so artsy and not sure what to do, sticking to the natural colors will be safe. White semi-gloss or gloss for baseboards, a satin light brown or coffee for the walls in the living areas will work fine. Note, the lighter colors are typically available in quantity at the home improvement stores and they don’t require primer. The main idea is to give the house a fresh even look and feel. Keep it simple, no need to paint a $10,000 mural in the den. It is unlikely you will get a return on your investment.
7. Kitchen & Bathroom:
The kitchen and bathrooms are very important rooms for most buyers and often are easy transformations. Typically, the facet fixtures become corroded or have build-up from minerals. Replacing the fixtures can be a fast easy way to spruce up the area. If you are not handy with plumbing tasks many contractors and handymen offer package deals for this type of work. Adding or changing out the cabinet door handles is another easy and inexpensive task that will reap good benefit. Other items that go a long way with minimal expense…
-Replace stove top drip pans
-Caulking around flooring and counter
-Rolled towels and matching colored soap dish and bottles at sinks
8. The Smell of HOME SWEET HOME!
Odor is important. The sniff test happens the moment the door opens. If the smell in the home is unforgiving to your potential buyer, it is a psychological barrier to accepting the house as their own. This adds up to be a major objection in the mind of a buyer. Therefore, it is important to have a neutral odor or no odor at all. This can be a challenge if you have pets or some other factor in or around your house. Conventional wisdom says bake cookies on the weekend and leave them for the people looking at your home. That will make the potential buyer feel special and put the smell of fresh baked cookies in the air. Another method is replacing the central air filter and placing an air freshener on the filter. This way the scent will be circulated to all rooms.
9. Are you the tour guide? This expedition is better left to the pros…
Buyers usually prefer to discuss your house when they know you are not in ear-shot. It is wise to allow them the freedom to discuss amongst themselves. If you are home you may want to step outside and cross the street while they are viewing…. The home will speak for itself if you have done the things in the blog so far.
10. Curb appeal- it may be the only appeal.
I will tell you, I have driven up to homes with my buyer in the car and based on the exterior condition of the home the buyer had told me they do not want to see the inside. With that being said, the landscape and exterior condition sets the mood for the buyer before they walk in to the house. Keep in mind, when you are searching for a home to purchase you will typically look at three to five homes on four separate days before you find the home that you will purchase. So, a buyer may have come from a home that is a complete wreck or the most pristine house in the neighborhood. You want to make certain that you are not the wrecked house! The trees & shrubs should be manicured as to make the house visible. Make certain all the house exterior features are visible. The watering systems should be functional. A little trick I learned from a landscaper; if you have rocks for your landscape, you can sweep a push broom over them to freshen them up. It works well! If you have grass make sure you have a very well defined border to other surfaces. The front yard if manicured with well defined lines and borders will make a strong impression on a buyer before they walk inside.
Okay, that was ten! I do have more but, the blog promised 10! Oh, you say you want to hear more ideas, or I haven’t hit on the ones you want to hear about… Let’s talk. Drop me a line or give me a call. Send me pictures. I want to see what you are talking about. I look forward to speaking to you soon.