Setting the “Stage” to Sell Your Home

It’s been proven that “staging” a home when selling can improve its appeal to potential buyers.   But what if you’re still living in your home while it’s on the market?  How can you “stage” a home to look appealing to buyers while you still have to make it work for your family and your life?   Model homes look like model homes because they don’t have to adapt to everyday living!  So what if instead of “staging” your home–which kind of implies a false setting–you make some changes that will present a lifestyle that buyers are looking for?  As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so let’s talk about a few details that can create a positive impression without undue inconvenience.

Some of these “details” may involve some investment of time and money up front, but they will pay dividends down the road by making your home appealing and memorable.  There are really 3 things that sell a home:  correct pricing/placement in the market, good marketing of the home, and a well-prepared, detailed home.    Your real estate professional can and should be the expert for the first two, but the third one is in  your hands,  Mr. Homeowner!  So how can you boost the appeal of your home?  Here are 5 things that are at the top of a buyer’s list:

1. Curb Appeal.  The first thing a buyer sees.  People do judge a book by its cover, so yours should be appealing and well-maintained.  You don’t have to have a lush landscape, but a trimmed and neat yard, some seasonal color, and a freshly painted front door with a neat front porch will invite buyers to come inside.

2. First Impressions–now that you’ve gotten them to the front door, make that first impression when they open the door a memorable one!   Welcome visitors inside with a clean, decluttered entry.  If possible, add a mirror so buyers can literally “see” themselves in your home.  Fresh flowers or a nice plant create warmth, and remember to appeal to the sense of smell also with a subtle air freshener.  Consider a natural scent such as cinnamon or vanilla.  Stay away from strong florals.  All these small tricks involve minimal expense and trouble for you, but create a welcoming feeling for a buyer.

3. Kitchen–kitchens sell homes.  That’s a fact.  And updated, clean kitchens are a must in today’s competitive market.  It goes without saying that  your kitchen should be clean and clutter-free.  Take all the artwork and magnets off your fridge.  Put away all the counter clutter.  Clean out your pantry, drawers, and cabinets inside to give the impression of plenty of storage–buyers will open them so be sure they’re neat and tidy.  Appliances should be clean inside and out.  If your kitchen is dated and you prefer not to invest in a total kitchen makeover, consider small changes like updated cabinet hardware and/or a new kitchen faucet.  These will help make your kitchen look modern and more up-to-date and do not involve major expense or work.

4. Bathrooms–another place where updating makes a difference.  Updating fixtures and hardware works well here as well as in the kitchen.  These small additions give a buyer a feeling of being “move-in ready”, even if they may want to do some more serious updating down the road.  Bathrooms are more of a “personal space” than perhaps any other room in the house, so de-personalize as much as possible by removing counter clutter and other personal items.  Put away your cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, and potions so that the room looks more spacious and also so buyers don’t feel like they’re invading your personal space.

5. Furniture placement.  Remove some larger pieces that are just occupying space.  Open the room and make sure that furniture placement improves flow rather than impedes it.  By editing down your furniture and accessories, you help buyers picture their own things in a room.  Put away or pack up pictures, personal items, collections, etc.  You’ll have to do it eventually anyway, so do it now and make your home more appealing.  You want buyers to be looking at your home, not your personal belongings!
Most buyers today are looking for a home that suits their lifestyle and that is ready to go.  Many do not have the time, money, or expertise to invest in expensive fix-ups before they move in, so even if those things are in the plans for the future, they want something they can live with right away.  If you have strong colors in every room, consider toning them down with a fresh coat of paint in a more neutral color.   Create a neutral palette so that buyers can adapt your home to their own lifestyles.

By investing a little time and a little money in some or all of these details, you’ll improve your chances for finding that buyer quickly and getting your home sold for the best possible price!

Good luck!