10 Tips on Preparing Your House for Sale
These home staging tips cover tasks you can easily do yourself at minimal cost, or that can be done with the help of a professional Home Stager. With a bit of work and a right mindset, you’ll be on your way to staging your house and reaping the benefits of your efforts at the sale time.
1. Mind Set
Before you do anything, you have to stop thinking of your house as a HOME and start thinking about it as an investment. Probably the most important investment you have made so far, you want to get the largest possible return on it, so you can move on to bigger and better things, right?
With less time and more technology available to almost anyone, chances are that potential buyers are first searching the Internet for the properties they might be interested in. You need to have the best possible photos available on the Internet, as that “first look” might determine whether the prospects will want to visit your property or will jump over it. These photos have to impress and generate an emotional desire from the potential buyer to see the property “live”. If you don’t have pictures that stand out from the others, you are probably missing out on dozens, if not hundreds of potential buyers.
3. Curb appeal
Curb appeal (or, lack of thereof) can deter a visitor from wanting to go in – have you ever driven by a house for sale, disliking it from the outside and leaving without even giving it a chance? Avoid this situation happening to you:
- Walk around the house and ensure that the path and the perimeter of the house are clear and no foreign objects, such as toys, bicycles, garbage cans or unused building materials are visible.
- Pay attention to your bushes, vines and plants and trim them, as necessary. Keep the lawn cut and watered, leaves raked or snow removed (depending on the time of the year). Put a planter/flower pot at the entrance, if the time of the year allows.
- Scrub and wash the front porch, the door as well as the trim, the mailbox and polish the street number.
- Put all small items away from the patio/deck in order to not distract the eye from the available space.
Remember, the buyers want to see space, above anything else. You want the visitors to focus on the house and not on your stuff. A cluttered house gives the impression of being poorly maintained and looks smaller than it really is. Go through the house, room by room, and take everything out but the essentials – decide what to throw out, what to donate and what to put in storage. Some areas to pay particular attention to:
- Floors – no piles on the floor anywhere.
- Horizontal surfaces – take everything off, then put only a few items back. No knick knacks, photo displays, large collections, magazines, bottles/jars, small appliances and anything else that might distract the eye from the beautiful features of your property. Remember to clean the kitchen and bathroom countertops as well – if you have not used an item for three months or you can do without it for the next three – take it off and put it away.
- Book shelves – put your books and magazines upright and in order.
- Closets – every closet has to be cleaned out until they all look spacious and well organized.
- Garage – de-cluttered and emptied out as much as possible – the visitors will be considering how much space is available in your garage, so show them.
- Furniture and wall hangings – too much furniture impedes a good traffic flow in the house and makes it look smaller, so the golden rule is “Less is more”! The same applies to art and accessories – if in doubt, take them off and keep only one or two items per wall.
If you are not able or willing to do it yourself, hire a professional. We recommend that you walk through each room and make two lists – one list for cleaning and the other for fixing. Pay particular attention to the entrance, kitchen, and bathrooms. Do not forget the walls and the ceilings (cobwebs), windows, and appliances. Shampoo the carpets. Remember, if nothing else, your home should be spotless for the shows. Don’t forget to clean those light switches!
Fixing small but visible things is important. Chipped paint, loose or missing tiles, broken door handle, a closet door that doesn't’t quite close properly – all the little things you never had time to fix – unfortunately, they can become a BIG turnoff for a potential buyer. After all, they probably don’t want to deal with the extra repairs while moving, unpacking and settling in. As well, it might make them wonder whether some other, more important things have been left uncared for in the house.
Painting is the cheapest way to enhance a room. Be as objective as possible and decide which rooms (if any) could use a fresh coat of paint. Dark colors make a room seem smaller and some bright colors might not please everyone. Repaint main rooms (entrance, living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom) in fresh, neutral colors. A Home Staging Professional can help you with the right choice of colors.
Make sure all your furniture, light fixtures and accessories look contemporary. Most of the time, you can achieve the “fresh” look without spending a lot. For example, changing the counter top and/or cabinet handles in the kitchen can make a huge difference without having to remodel it. Changing light fixtures or faucets can also make quite an impact on the look and feel of a room. Simple things such as a new bed ensemble, a few decorative pillows and two nice table lamps will transform a bedroom.
The idea is to make the house attractive to as many potential buyers as possible as well as have them concentrate on the HOUSE and not the personal stuff of the people living there. As you don’t know who might be interested, you need to make your house appealing to a wide range of prospects – a young family with kids, a professional couple, single person, retired couple, etc… Therefore, we recommend to make the house as neutral as possible by taking off and storing any religious or political symbols, diplomas, collections and knick knacks as well as family – they distract from what you are selling – a property and not a home.
9. Light it up
A bright house is an attractive house. Open all the blinds/curtains and make sure there is sufficient light in every room, add fixtures, stand up or table lamps.
10. Space optimization
Space management optimization and proper furniture and accessories placement is essential. It will give a home a warm and appealing look and feel. For example, the living room furniture should be positioned to create a conversation area which will look toward the room’s focal point. A painting, a vase filled with decorative branches or a bowl of lemons will bring the ambiance to the room.
Although these tips can be done yourself, consider hiring a professional Home Stager for more effective results. A Home Stager is not emotionally attached to any of the home’s contents, which means that they can see the house in a way that someone who has been living there for years simply cannot. Using their fresh vision, they recommend the optimal way to re-arrange existing furniture, art and accessories. Whether you need help with a few home staging tips, or would like to be put in touch with one of our recommended professional Home Stagers, we would love to help. Contact us today!