How to make your home more valuable and sell faster
Preparing your home for viewers, or “staging” as it’s called, is important. It will not only ensure your property is sold faster, but can potentially add thousands of dollars to its value
Why stage your home?
- Staged homes sell faster, according to the Real Estate Staging Association’s (RESA) studies.
- Staged homes typically sell for closer to the listing price.
- A staged home looks better in marketing materials and on the Internet.
- Staged homes appear to buyers as well-maintained and move-in ready.
Now let’s look at some low budget ways to make your home look more appealing.
All the effort spent spiffing up your home’s curb appeal and staging the interior is wasted if the home is dirty and cluttered.
Starr C. Osborne, author of “Home Staging that Works: Selling your Home in Less Time for More Money,” suggests that the first step when staging a home is to remove the “you” from your home. Aim for a clean slate so that potential buyers can more easily impose themselves – their tastes and lifestyle – into the space.
Remove Personal Items
So, where do you start? The best place is at the front door, then move around the home, right to left, top to bottom. Designate a box for each room and, as you go through them, place the items you’ll be removing from the room into its box.
Your aim is to remove all items of a personal nature. These include family or other personal photographs, diplomas and certificates, refrigerator “art,” DVDs, CD collections and magazines, personal mementos, tchotchkes and anything torn, broken or otherwise damaged.
After you finish removing these items from the home, retrace your steps and organise whatever is left. Bookshelves should look almost bare, with remaining items neatly organized. Kitchen and bathroom counters should hold only decorative items (yes, the coffee maker should be put in a cupboard) and nothing should sit on top of the refrigerator unless it’s decorative.
Declutter Closets, Cupboards and Drawers
Homebuyers are nosy – as they should be. They open drawers, closets and cupboards, checking to make sure there’s enough room for their “stuff.” Just as you removed personal clutter from the walls and surfaces of each room, you need to remove clutter from the others areas that buyers will view.
Your aim with this task is to make everything look roomy. Look for items you won’t be using until after the move and store them. Some items to consider storing include out of season clothing, excess linens and blankets, junk from the junk drawer (come on, we know you have one!), shoes, bulky coats and other winter-wear, toys, overflow cosmetics and toiletries, extra sets of dinnerware, flatware and cutlery, and kitchenware that you don’t often use, such as a waffle iron, blender, crockpot and large stockpots.
When you’ve finished boxing up all these extra items, your cupboards, drawers and closets should look a lot roomier. Now, organize what’s left.
Use baskets to separate and hold items you keep under the bathroom vanity and kitchen sink. Refold and neatly stack remaining linens. Organize the pantry so that each shelf looks roomy and tidy. Use a shoe rack to get the shoes up off the floor and straighten items on closet shelves.
Now that the home is decluttered it’s time to clean it. It not only needs to look clean, it needs to smell clean, so plan on either using a lot of elbow grease or hiring someone who will. This is deep cleaning, friend, so plan on taking your time and making every corner of the house sparkle.
Again, if you have trouble figuring out where to start, start at the front door and move around the house right to left, top to bottom. Removing cobwebs on the ceilings is a great place to start, then move down the walls, cleaning them if you won’t be painting. If there’s a window in that wall, clean it and the screen behind it. Baseboards are next, then floors. Once you have a system going the job becomes a lot easier.
Since kitchens and bathrooms are hot buttons for homebuyers, make sure yours sparkle. Toilets should be clean and the lid left down. Don’t neglect kitchen appliances, including the inside of the refrigerator.
If your walls are beyond help with a heavy duty cleaner, or they’re painted an odd color, consider repainting them. Light, neutral colors with mass appeal are ideal and help make rooms look larger. Fresh paint can also help remove cooking and tobacco odors.
Paint is relatively inexpensive and the perfect way to make your rooms look fresh and the house look turn-key.
Get Rid of the Big Stuff
Disregard this section if you live in an enormous home. Otherwise, get rid of all the big furniture, such as the oversized TV, the massive sofa that takes up almost the entire living room, and any overly-large bedroom furniture. By removing the big stuff you open up rooms, making them appear larger.
Advertise Each Room’s Purpose
Exercise equipment in an office confuses buyers. Although infant paraphernalia in a master bedroom may make logistical sense in the middle of the night when you need to change a diaper, it doesn’t work when you’re marketing your home for sale.
Go through each room in the house and remove anything that doesn’t belong. If you don’t have a room dedicated to working out, put the treadmill in storage. Move the changing table back into the nursery and the toddler toys out of the living room. Leave no doubt in a potential buyer’s mind as to the purpose of each room.
The extent of staging you do depends, of course, on your budget.If your budget is tight, use items you already own. Go through the house, garage and shed searching for staging items. Barb Schwarz, founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, tells the story of a boy’s bedroom in desperate need of transformation. She found just what she needed in the homeowner’s shed: a fishing pole to replace a broken curtain rod and a sheet tied back with rope became the curtain. She also used a tackle box and some books on fishing to create a vignette on top of the dresser.
Be creative in your hunt and don’t rule anything out. If you find you need to purchase items, scour Craigslist.org or hit some garage sales.
Add new life to boring bedrooms by purchasing new comforters and matching curtains. Add a few coordinating pillows to give the room a designer’s touch. Do the same in the bathrooms with new shower curtains and coordinating towels and rugs.
Good lighting is essential when a home is on the market. If your windows don’t let in enough natural light, purchase new lamps and use high wattage bulbs.
Vacant homes can be challenging to stage inexpensively. If there is a furniture rental company in your area, rent a sofa and some end tables and night stands. You can create a bed by using large moving boxes and covering them with an attractive quilt or comforter. Add some pillows and, unless someone tries to sit on it, nobody will know there isn’t a real bed underneath.
Accent pieces add a lot to the vacant home, so hit some garage sales or the local thrift shop to pick up some inexpensive pieces.
Need more ideas? Take a stroll though some model homes and pay close attention to the accent pieces the designers use. Then, when it comes time to start the staging process, use RealEstate.com’s handy staging checklist.