As a seller you want to maximize your profits by not spending much and you want to give your home the competitive edge it needs to sell fast. Consider home staging. Home staging services do require an initial investment up front, but research shows time and again a professionally staged home will typically sell faster and for more money than one that has not been staged.
Home staging is all about setting the stage for a homebuyer to want your house. Homes are bought on emotion- you have to let go of your own emotional attachments to items and spaces and start creating a space that speaks to those of a buyer- you need a buyer to feel drawn to your home. Yes, this sounds a little New Age, touchy feely, but think about when you bought your home in the first place- you probably did so based on a “feeling” you got when you first saw it. The most important aspect to consider is that you will soon be a homebuyer too if all goes well. Consider what kind of amenities you look for and what kind of touches make a space stand out to you.
If you’re not able or willing to hire a home stager, don’t worry. There are a ton of sites with some good information out there on creating an inviting space that appeals to a wide variety of potential buyers. I’ve gathered some of the most common tips here.
A splash of color can be the key to making your home look inviting and fresh. Think about Spring- sky blues, sunny yellows, and grass greens. You can do a lot with inexpensive accessories. Bright, vibrant colors can be as simple as some fresh cut flowers on your dining room table, a small vase on an end table or nightstand, and a pretty bowl filled with real lemons on the kitchen table. Keep it neutral overall, but do add some colorful touches- maybe some coral throw pillows in the living room. If you’re hesitant to add too much color, try adding white. A fluffy white throw blanket at the foot of a bed or a large white bowl on a dark dining table can really brighten and soften a space.
If accessories are out of your budget or comfort zone, at least put a touch of greenery and life in every room. You don’t want the house to look like a florist, but bringing some natural elements inside and opening your blinds for some natural light can really make a home seem that much brighter, fresher, and inviting to a prospective buyer.
Get rid of your clutter and depersonalize your home. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to stage your home is to get rid of the clutter. De-cluttering doesn’t just mean removing unwanted items, though. It means purging items that don’t enhance the overall aesthetic of a room. Pack up grandma’s plate collection and the foosball table in the living room for the next house. Stacks of magazines, an out of control shoe collection, or a kitchen countertop that looks more like an appliance showroom make your home seem small and disorganized no matter how tidy your stacks are or how clean that countertop is. A buyer is going to want to know what kind of storage your home offers for their own collections. So clean out your closets, too. An organized closet sends the message that, as an owner, you’re the kind of person who doesn’t slack on any aspect (leaky roof or busted water heater) of maintaining your home. Plus, even a tiny closet that is half full can appear twice as big.
If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Remember it’s one less item you will have to pack and unpack later when you are moving into your new home! If you just can’t bear to get rid of something, pack it up and take it away to a storage unit. A small storage unit costs a minimal monthly fee and your items will be already packed for when you are ready to move.
The goal is to make a buyer walk into your house and instantly be able to imagine they belong there. Family photos distract from that goal and clutter completely clouds the mental picture. Imagine the way you feel on vacation when you enter your luxury hotel suite and instantly feel at home. On the other end of the analogy, imagine walking into a hotel room and finding the previous lodger’s toothbrush on the counter and the bed not made. No matter how well housekeeping cleans it up, your first impression is going to keep you from ever feeling really relaxed and at home.
Get yourself into the habit of storing all your beauty products in an inexpensive shower caddy so they can easily be stowed under the sink when you have a showing. Also make sure matching clean towels are hung in the bathrooms. While this may seem so simple, a homebuyer notices such touches and equates them to you have taken care of the house.
Neutral colors in light or muted tones like grays, browns, and even very muted greens, blues, or yellows work best. Painting is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make to your home. Neutral tones are widely appealing and make your rooms look bigger. White just seems cold and stark.
Walk through your home and determine if there is a natural flow to it. If any space has a vibrant, knock-you-over-the-head color, or a way too personalized tone, paint over it. The neon blue wall with race cars your son loves can be redone at your new home but the dread it puts in a family with all girls can’t be undone.
Bring in natural light. It’s free and has the powerful psychological affect of making us feel comfortable and safe. It also shows a homebuyer your home is clean (hint, hint, clean those windows first!). So open or pull up any blinds or shades. While you’re at it, if the weather is nice, open your windows before a showing. This rids your home of any odors you might not have noticed and makes it that much fresher. Be sure to also check that all the light bulbs in your home are bright and operational. Add higher wattage bulbs to really brighten a room.
The key to staging your home is that you don’t know who your buyer is going to be. You want whoever it is to feel your home was made for them. So spend your budget on a few key rooms for maximum impact. Focus on the entryway, main living area, kitchen, and master bedroom. Neutralize and update these spaces with a few accessories for little cost. Lamps, area rugs, wall art, and other accessories can be just enough to add that extra pizazz to your home’s first impression on a buyer.
Whatever you do, though, remember to depersonalize, de-clutter, and clean. By clean, I mean not just a surface clean, but a toothbrush to the hidden cracks and nannies in the bathroom kind of cleaning. If your house sparkles, it shows better aesthetically and suggests to a homebuyer that you have also regularly maintained everything from the air filters to the lawn. And clean your fridge! You might hope no one peaks, but they do! Believe it or not, a clean fridge tells a buyer you are organized and the kind of person that cleans up a mess when it happens.
For more tips on preparing your home for the market, please contact me at John@PetersenPartners.com and be sure to look for more tips in our online magazine, www.AtlantaHomeMagazine.com!