Having a hard time selling your home? Has it been on the market for months only to receive disappointing offers or worse yet-No offers! Why is it that some homes fly off the market in only days or short weeks and others do not? As a Professional Home Stager I get asked this question a lot. I’m here to provide you with tips to get your home in its best shape yet so you can make that sale!
Here are 10 tips to help you get prepared for a Sale:
1. Get an Objective Eye
Let’s face it, you’ve been living in your house for a long time. You’ve grown to like it and become very familiar with it. This does not let you see your home objectively as a buyer would. You need to find a friend or Professional Home Stager to assist you with this. Bottom line is you need an honest, informed opinion on what needs repairs, what can be changed in the flow of the house and what will truly attract buyers and make them take ownership in your home. If you do this yourself I guarantee not much will change and you’ll be back to the waiting game or will wind up there.
2. When in Doubt go Neutral
Know the types of ethnic groups in your area and what people want to buy. If you live in a high Latino area as I do, color is acceptable and seen as warm and welcoming. Thus you can take advantage of happy yellows and reds. In a more traditional area you’ll want to stick to neutral colors. It may not be everyone’s preference but it is easy to paint over for the buyer and it is clean and creates a larger looking room. Follow neutrals throughout the house for a uniform look. If The room looks really boring add an accent wall. This wall is intended for focal points like the fireplace wall or for a wall with a lot of windows.
3. Curb Appeal can Make or Break
Your home’s exterior is what potential buyers see first. Ensure that you get an objective eye for this area. It is been proven that many people have already started to make up their mind about your home by its outward appearance within the first 30 seconds. Make sure all plants, shrubs, hedges and trees are clipped properly and groomed, the grass is freshly cut. If it is sparse in some areas plant some new sod or grass seed in some patchy areas. For a quick fix to some yellowing grass in small patches you can use green spray paint. Make sure all concrete steps, porch and driveway are free from cracks and are all level. Test outdoor lights so that all work, change bulbs if necessary. The color red is great for potted flowers outside. Make sure your mailbox is in good condition and not rusted. The address numbers for your house must not be falling off. If the exterior shutters and door are bland it is time for a fresh coat of paint. If there is any chipping, peeling or fading you must lightly sand and repaint too. Black or red done in a gloss, not flat paint, add a dramatic entrance. Add a gorgeous wreath and a welcome mat at the door.
4. Backyards Matter
Don’t forget your backyard. If you have a pool ensure it is clean and the tile or concrete around it is not cracking and is in good condition. Add color, pinks and reds are great with a lot of greenery. This can be in the form or planted or potted flowers. Again trim hedges and cut grass so it is neat. Get out the rake and go between bushes and areas that collect leaves and start packing the in a garbage bag. Create a real family feel by having a table or umbrella table with 4-6 padded chairs done in teak, or use faux wicker. Buy from yard sales or discount stores if you don’t intend on keeping it for the next house. You can add a BBQ also. Neat and manicured is the idea as most families will want to have children back there as well as guests so let them envision that.
5. Kitchens are Key
Kitchens are the heart of the home. Everyday you eat, prepare food, wash your hands, do dishes and gather in the kitchen of course. If you are going to do some upgrades I highly recommend updating this particular room. Depending on your budget, I’d recommend tile, a nice laminate or even granite countertops. Cabinets must match and be taken care of. If they look a little dry use some orange oil to refresh them. Keep counters clean and fresh by removing small appliances and leave a few simple things such as a candle, fruit basket, one small appliance such as a coffee maker or blender (we use ours daily) and a small assortment of glass containers that you could put pasta or beans into for color. One major turnoff is clutter so PLEASE remove all magnets and artwork, papers, coupons and the like from your fridge. If you must put one or two, do so on the side of the fridge. This will take away from your kitchen. Keep sinks free from dishes while showing your home and be sure to shine up the sink faucet with glass cleaner and put out a couple small potted green plants. Your kitchen table will be freshened up with a nice clear vase with bright flowers, if they are highly fragrant all the better. I recommend using a candle in this room too, something that smells like baking to grab their senses.
6. Make your Bathroom Luxurious
Give your bathrooms a pizzazz and sparkle buy keeping counters clean and free from clutter and knickknacks. Use white or a light color and ensure faucets are sparkling with glass cleaner. If they look old and really outdated do upgrade them, it makes a world of difference. Light fixtures need to stay updated too. Use a vanity light with 3-4 lights or a sconce on each side of a mirror in powder rooms. Give a spa feel by adding a great basket with rolled towels tied with ribbon and some soaps, lotions and other goodies. Do not have any more than 2 colors of towels for example periwinkle blue and chocolate brown, too many will look busy. Work with the bathroom colors you have as to not create a chaotic look. Again, candles lit with a light floral scent for this room and a clean looking shower curtain. What does the floor look like? If things are looking grungy, it is time to clean tile grout, replace tile or replace flooring with the clean and inexpensive look of a neutral linoleum tile.
7. Keep Entryways Clear
A buyer will be turned off if they can’t even get through the front entry. Keep all shoes, coats and clutter and hook hangers out of this area if it is narrow. Stick with a front door rug and a long mirror or piece of artwork. If you have a large entryway then by all means create some ambience. An elegant mirror with a small table underneath with candles or a plant, 2 items max. If you have the room you could have a small bench that doubles as storage in the seat. Ensure the tile or linoleum is in good condition and that the walls have been wiped down as this is a high traffic area.
8. Create Flow
The flow of any house if very important. It is the way you can move from room to room with ease and do not feel obstructed or required to squeeze through a space. A lot of this is determined by furniture size and placement. If you have a narrow dining room it is not the place for grandmas large antique table. Likewise if you have a large room and don’t fill it appropriately it will look odd. The best arrangements for living rooms are generally those around a focal point such as a fire place. You would have a large sofa or loveseat opposite it with a long narrow table at the back of the sofa, whereby you could have a lamp, some wicker baskets, candles, plants, you name it. Place a coffee table or oversized ottoman in the center. Now on either side of the coffee table diagonal to the loveseat you could have 2 oversized chairs. You can also place a rug in the center to anchor everything together if there is no real focal point. You can angle the rug out so it is more in a diamond shape than a square or rectangle for interest.
9. Create luxury in the Bedroom
If your current bedroom, or any of them have a plain bed with an ugly bedspread it is time for an update. The buyers will want to feel at rest here, like it is a retreat, not a place to run from! If you don’t have a headboard in the master bedroom, either buy one or make one. If you are desiring a new bed anyway, now is the time for perhaps a sleigh bed. Now replace the ugly bedspread with a duvet and neutral color or let that be the punch of color your room needs if it looks bland. Lots of pillows that match are best, the pouf gives off the plush feeling. It is essential to have a dresser or some other pieces of furniture. Try to keep the TV out of the bedroom and ensure you have end tables on either side of the bed, each with a small lamp an a plant or small candle, or a clock. Add fresh flowers to this room and ensure that there is a drapery treatment. Ugly blinds won’t cut it. Use a layer of sheers, then add a decorative rod/finial with a simple drapery treatment. Two single panels work well. If you have multiple windows, use the same exact set for each. Keep walk-in closets clean and organized. If they look really empty then get some paper bags from upscale shops locally and put tissue paper inside and place a couple in their for some glam.
10. Light it Up
If your house looks dark and uninviting it may be because of lighting placement, not enough lighting or inappropriate lighting. If you require significant light, don’t skimp. Ensure it allows for a higher wattage. In areas such as family rooms have recessed pot lighting installed as well as soft lighting by using lamps. In kitchens you can have under-counter hidden lighting installed instead of harsh fluorescent tube lights. Use natural light as much as possible. Keep blinds, drapes open during showings unless the light is blinding. Light some candles in most rooms for ambience. In addition have some floor lamps, table lamps or sufficient overhead light. Make sure you have bright porch lighting, your buyers might be frightened off in an creepy, dark entrance. A word on ceiling fans, in really hot areas such as the South they are definitely a selling feature if they are modern looking. If you live in a cool climate most of the year or in the North I highly recommend replacing with an elegant lighting fixture. They can be an eyesore especially in relaxing rooms like the bedroom. As a Floridian they are essential in my home, but oh how I loathe the clunky look of ceiling fans!
**If your home has already been on the market and you are rushed to sell, I highly recommend having a Home Stager meet with you. The consultation is inexpensive and they will give you their expert advice. From there you can attempt to tackle it on your own or let them work their magic for a quick sale. DID YOU KNOW: The cost of home staging is almost always less than the cost of your first price reduction due to lack of offers?! It can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on whether it is your furniture or rented furniture that is used as well as the size of your home. **