Staging is critical in impressing home buyers
The real estate game can be a tricky one for the home seller.
Trying to guess what every prospective buyer wants to see when he or she walks through the door can be tough. A realtor can coach the seller through the process of listing a home, but the way a home presents itself is completely up to the homeowner.
The real estate market is all about competaition, which means if you want your home to sell for top dollar it must shine inside and out.
Luckily, this can be achieved through the principles of staging using little or no money at all.
Studies show that home staging can increase the selling price of a home by 6 to 10 percent, so investing a little time and money in simple improvements can really pay off.
The first step to successful staging is to “declutter” each room. Categorize everything into four groups: Keep, toss/recycle, sell or donate.
You will have to do this when you move anyway, so getting the job done now will not only make the house look better, but also will make moving will be a snap.
Start in the kitchen and work your way around the house, one room at a time. Experts agree that the kitchen will make or break the sale of a home, so it is important for it to look clean and functional. Remove pictures, notes, lists and calendars from the fridge. Clear the countertops, leaving only the essentials, and remove any and store items from the cupboards you don’t use often.
As you move on to other rooms, make the most of every closet, cabinet and drawer by organizing what you keep in bins, baskets and containers.
Buyers love storage and they will open doors and drawers to see what’s inside.
Don’t forget to add shelving in utility rooms, the basement and laundry areas. These are typically the spaces we pay the least attention to over the years, so taking the time to organize them now will make you feel less overwhelmed about where to stow your stuff. The bonus here is that buyers will love the extra storage and feel as if they can move right in.
After the clutter is clear, it is time to tackle minor repairs. You may need to patch holes in the wall, fix a leaking faucet, get a stain out of a rug, re-caulk the tub or finish any trim work. If these simple tasks are not complete, buyers will see them and assume that if small fixes aren’t done the rest of the home is probably in disrepair, too. Have a friend or family member tour the home and point out things you may have missed or gotten used to looking at over the years.
The next step is to restyle the home. Since everyone has different tastes in home decor, it is key to make your home appeal to as many of these tastes as possible. Light neutral colors, basic furnishings and updated rooms will allow buyers to focus on the positive aspects of the home.
Consider repainting rooms with warm colors that match with anyone’s decor, such as beige or gray. The key is to depersonalize the home so it is no longer styled just for you, but for the masses.
This means removing wallpaper and paint over that bright red wall. Pack away collections such as dolls, taxidermy or sports memorabilia, as well as small knick-knacks and excessive house plants. Take down family photos and replace with a painting or mirror. Edit furniture by removing at least one piece from each room to make it easy for buyers to walk through and visualize their own belongings in the space.
Buyers love natural light so be sure to remove outdated window coverings such as valances, vertical blinds, and dark colored mini blinds that tend to make a room feel heavy. In spaces where window treatments are a necessity, consider buying low cost, neutral curtain panels and hang them on the outside of the window sash to maximize the light.
Another key item buyers are looking for is a great fireplace.
If you are lucky enough to have one in your home, be sure it is in working order and rearrange furniture to make it the focal point of the room instead of the TV. Other features that buyers love are roomy garages with a work space, a deck or patio and a welcoming front porch.
Don’t forget to make these areas appealing by applying the same principles as you did for the interior of your home: Declutter, get rid of excess furniture or collectibles and decorate in a neutral way.
The final and most important step is to clean the home from top to bottom. Consider spending $200 on a professional deep cleaning. Dirt, mildew and grime can really disgust potential buyers,’ so why chance it? You may also want to consider having your windows and screens professionally washed, which serves to lighten and brighten rooms. You have worked so hard on getting your home market ready, why not treat yourself and let a cleaning service do the rest?
When the time comes for an open house or a showing you can go the extra mile and put out a bowl of fruit or a fresh flower arrangement. Turn on all lamps and lights and start a fire in that cozy fireplace to make an environment that buyers feel comfortable in.
You want them to make that emotional connection and mentally move in to your home. Remember that a buyer will know if they are interested within the first couple minutes of entering a home, so making a great first impression is a must.
If you are not sure how to restyle your home or you don’t have a lot of time, ask your realtor to suggest a stager or interior designer in your area. Some offer a low-cost consultation in your home to give you an idea of what needs to be done and what their fees are.
Hiring a professional to do the job will cost you more than if you do it yourself, but either way, the investment will likely be recouped with a higher offer or a quicker sale.
Jenny (Christensen) Mikrut is a Greenville native and currently resides on the north side of Grand Rapids with her husband and two children. When she isn’t decorating her own house, Jenny works for Ashley Cole Interior Design and writes the home design blog ashtonsebastian.com.