So you’ve decided to sell your home and move to pastures new, it goes without saying you want to maximise your investment and get the best possible price from buyers.
Making simple changes and ‘staging’ your house should be as important as choosing the right estate agent. So many people think of this as optional when it really shouldn’t be. Your home is your largest asset, so why wouldn’t you want to present it in the best possible light.
Staging may be one of the most lucrative projects you ever undertake. Potential buyers aren’t just looking for a house to inhabit – they’re looking to realise their dreams and improve their lifestyles. Staging helps sell those dreams and as it generally is an emotional purchase which in turn can generate more money for the seller.
Home staging is also beneficial because potential buyers don’t want to see work that needs to be done upon moving into the home. For every problem they see, they’ll deduct its cost from their offer price. If they see too many problems, they may not be interested.
It is said that buyers make their mind up in 11 seconds when viewing a property for the first time, so you really have to grab their attention and get them captivated. The first thing they see at the initial viewing is the front of your house.Take a step back and try and view it as though you’re looking at it for the first time. What do you see? Overflowing bins, leaves and debris piled high, broken gutters, dirty windows and dead plants won’t cut it in today’s competitive market.You don’t need to break the bank to have the windows cleaned, move the bins out of sight, sweep up the leaves and invest in some plant pots. The aim is to remove visible clutter to make your house as attractive and inviting as possible.
No one wants to see splattered food, films of grease or piles of crumbs in their potential new home. Likewise, make sure your bathrooms sparkle, from the corners of the tub to the sink drain to that spot behind the toilet you don’t think anyone can see. Your goal should be to make everything look and smell new.
As you’ve made the decision to move on, you need to emotionally detach from the house so this is the perfect opportunity to have a clear out. Why pay more in removal costs than you have to?There are two major problems with clutter. One is that it distracts buyers from your home’s features. The other is that it makes it seem like the home doesn’t have enough storage space.
Put away knickknacks. Keep in mind that buyers will be interested in your wardrobe space, and may want to take a look so tossing everything into the wardrobe to hide it away may not be the best strategy.
Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your home, so remove all the family photos, items with family members’ names on them and fridge art. Also make sure to put away all the toys and anything else that is highly indicative of the home’s current inhabitants.
Pets, kids, what you ate for dinner last night, a mildew-covered bathroom and many other conditions can make your home smell. You are probably immune to your home’s smell, so you’ll need to have a friend or neighbour help you out with this one.
Inexpensive tricks for ridding a home of odours and giving it an inviting aroma include baking cinnamon-coated apples in the oven, burning vanilla-scented candles, or the usual trick of baking some bread beforehand. It’s also a good idea to grind half a lemon in the garbage disposal to remove sink odours. While you could use a spray to deodorize your home, it might give it a cheap, institutional bathroom smell, which is hardly the image you’re going for. If you’re a smoker and you normally smoke indoors, start limiting your smoking to outside the home and take extra steps to deodorize indoors. Finally, don’t forget to take out the rubbish.
Make sure each room has a single, defined purpose. Also make sure that every space within every room has a purpose so that buyers will see how to maximize the home’s square footage. If you have a finished attic, make it an office. A junk room can be transformed into a guest bedroom. Even if the buyer won’t want to use the room for the same purpose, the important thing is for them to see that every inch of the home is usable space. This includes alcoves, window seats, corners, breakfast nooks and so on.
Wallpaper & Paint You may love your purple bathroom, but people’s tastes in colours are very specific and highly personal. While you might think that white walls would be ideal because they create a blank slate that allows buyers to envision their own décor and gives them an easy starting point, it’s actually better to paint your home with warm, neutral colours that appeal to the masses and project the homey image you’re trying to sell.
No one wants to live with dirty, stained carpet, especially when someone else made it that way. Linoleum is passé and looks cheap. Though pricey, hardwood floors add value and elegance to a home. They are also low-maintenance, provide great long-term value and are perfect for buyers with allergies. In other words, they appeal to almost everyone, and if not, they’re easily carpeted over by the buyer and preserved for the next owner. In kitchens and bathrooms, go with ceramic tile or stone if you can afford it. If not, use high-quality vinyl tiles that mimic their more expensive counterparts. If you can’t afford to do that, stick to common areas like the living room, dining room and kitchen. Bathrooms should make the cut too because they have relatively little floor area and therefore won’t be too expensive to upgrade.
Take advantage of your home’s natural light. Open all curtains and blinds when showing your home. Add supplemental lighting where necessary. Outdated or broken light fixtures can be cheaply and easily replaced. If you think your existing fixtures are fine, make sure to dust them, clean off any grime and empty out the dead insects.
Make sure furniture is the right size for the room, and don’t clutter a room with too much furniture. Furniture that’s too big will make a room look small, while too little or too small furniture can make a space feel cold. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to switch out your existing furniture and you may even be able to rent it, but the furniture should look nice, new, expensive and inviting. You’ll also want to arrange the furniture in a way that makes each room feel spacious yet homey. In the living room, for example, seating should be set up in a way that creates a gathering area around the fireplace.
Cracks in the walls or ceiling are a red flag to buyers as they may indicate foundation problems. If your home does have foundation problems, you will need to either fix them or alert potential buyers to the problem. That said, a fix would be better in terms of getting the home sold. If the foundation only looks bad, but has been deemed sound by an inspector, repair the cracks so you don’t scare off buyers for no good reason.
Your home’s exterior will be the first impression buyers get and may even determine their interest in viewing the inside. Make sure your lawn, hedges, trees and other plants are well-maintained and neatly pruned and eliminate any weeds. To brighten windows, wash them well, and consider adding flower boxes to brighten them up further. If you can, power wash your home’s exterior – it can make it look almost freshly painted but with less effort and expense. Make sure the pavement leading up to the house is clear and clean, and purchase new doormats for the front and back doors. If you have a pool, showcase it by making sure it’s crystal clear. Creating some sort of outdoor living space in the back garden, such as a deck or patio with outdoor furniture, is another way to use the exterior of your home to its greatest advantage.
Just before any open house or showing, make sure that your staging efforts go the full mile with a few last-minute touches that will make the home seem warm and inviting. These include fresh flowers, letting fresh air into the house for at least ten minutes beforehand so it isn’t stuffy, adding a pleasant scent as discussed earlier, and putting new, plush, nicely folded towels in the bathrooms.
Even if you have plenty of cash, don’t put too much money into the staging process. You want to emphasize the home’s best features, but keep in mind that what sells the home and what will make the home usable for the buyer are not necessarily the same thing. Overall, your home staging efforts should be designed to appeal to the widest possible range of buyers. The more people willing to submit purchase offers for your home, the higher the selling price will be. Once you’ve sold your home for the maximum value, you’ll want to make sure you don’t undo your resale efforts by overpaying on your new home.