Often times the smallest changes can enhance a home’s “showability” when it is offered to the public for inspection. Sellers don’t seem to realize when “too much of their home” is showing. Staging your home for its finest presentation requires a room by room critique to offer the best first impressions.
Accentuate the Positive
When studying a room, the first point your eye catches should be a positive one. For example, a home with a massive fireplace commands the first attention spot. However, poor placement of furniture, too many “comfy” afghans and plenty of books and magazines will distort the simplicity of the rooms greatest asset. Add last night’s empty pizza box and full ashtrays and any prospective buyer will less appreciate the fine points the home would have offered.
Here is a list of ten points to keep in mind when staging your home for buyer inspections:
- Start packing the belongings you absolutely do not need to “live.” Extra books, magazines, kids artwork, afghans that don’t match the decor should be boxed and labeled for your next home. Extra knick-knacks from Christmas, cluttered bulletin boards and several months bank statements can easily be stored away. Kitchens are the biggest culprits as they are such a busy meeting place in the home. Discount coupons, excessive decorative magnets, photos, etc. really catch the eye of the overwhelmed buyer. The top of the refrigerator is the largest collector of sometimes used gadgets. Unless you use your “wok” daily, it is better to clear the top and the front of your refrigerator to make the kitchen a little simpler. Convenient appliances also do better when tucked away so counters look cleaner and sharper. Please check switchplates for fingerprints and smudges, as those are the first places to get noticed. Doorbells are another place that fingerprints are evident. Be sure you are making the right first impression.
- Family rooms are for relaxing, and need to be staged for crisp impressions and not your lazy evenings! Fold up grandma’s afghans, get rid of tired pillows, and pack up slippers, and cribbage sets for neat and clean appearances. Leftover smolderings in the fireplace can add a stale scent to the room. Give extra attention to removing ashes to avoid the less appreciated smokey smells from last nights fire.
- Bedrooms are other places we enjoy our conveniences the most. Having our robes and slippers waiting for us does not offer top exposure to a viewing family. Get closets slimmed down for a generous look. Freshen with a soft potpourri to diminish the stale odors that come with humidity and small confined places. Although we like our shades and blinds pulled for sleeping hours generally all buyers are drawn to a light, airy and bright room, so open up all window treatments to maximize brightness. With windows being exposed, be sure they are really clean and sparkling. A house really shows its best when it looks like it has been cared for. Remove jewelry and other small personal items from dresser tops. Clean and simple sells the best.
- The most inexpensive way to brighten a home besides a fresh coat of paint is to increase the wattage in light bulbs. That small guest room may be seldom used, but needs to look bigger and brighter to an interested buyer. Be sure the lamp can handle a stronger bulb and invest in a 3-way if possible. When you know that a showing is scheduled be sure to turn on every light bulb in the house for the best showing potential. Look around model homes, you will notice all the lights are always on, even on sunny days! This is not the time to conserve electricity – it’s part of your marketing plan. If you have a room that shows particularly dark, put in an interesting lamp and leave it on most of the time. It will help the buyer leave with a brighter impression of the rest of the home.
- Everybody has a “junk” room or closet. It’s acceptable not to be perfect throughout, but minimize the clutter to one room, desk, or area and you are ensured of a better showing. If it is impossible to move around you could be adversely affecting that buyer’s perception of the size of the home, so give careful consideration to overstuffed rooms.
- Everyone’s basement and garages are relatively the same, full of seasonal equipment, holiday decorations and tools. Garage sales are the best remedy for liquidating extras that you have accumulated over the years. Better to sell than to pay to have incidentals moved you really don’t need anymore. The biggest offender in basement commentary is the strong mold odors from high humidity. A dehumidifier can assist greatly in relieving that damp “basement” feeling and can alleviate concerns of water problems that don’t exist. It’s worth the effort to alleviate this common problem.
- The worst offenders for dust and dirt are the cold air returns and heating vents. If they won’t clean up with soap and water and painting doesn’t improve them either, purchasing new ones is not that expensive and a great alternative. A house with cobwebs and loaded vents really gives the wrong impression about the cleaning standards of the present owner.
- Pet dishes of water and food should be relocated to a spot where they will not get kicked accidentally. Water provides the perfect setting for falls or slips that can cause an accident. Cat boxes and pet beds should be clean and fresh and out of sight if possible. Those that don’t appreciate pets as much as you, will be turned off to pet “evidence.”
- Junior’s bedroom posters of rock groups minimize the true picture of the room. Limit the “artwork” to 1 or 2 posters and promise him that he can resurrect the rest at his next destination.
- Bathroom grouts must look like new. Bleaching can take care of some of the problems, but it’s worth the money to have a professional tile person patch and regrout problem areas. This is not a good time to try extensive grouting yourself. Often times amateur attempts convey the problem more than it is. Shower tracks from doors should glisten, along with the mirrors. Remove prescription bottles, pills, old toothbrushes, and worn towels. This room should get the most attention and look its best at all times. Dated colors in sinks can be replaced for generally a low investment and can render a much-updated feeling when a yesteryear color is no longer an objection. Remove old moldy shower curtains and limit shampoos to a few.
Written by Saul Klein