„The first step in maximizing the sale of your home is to properly prepare it to show at its best. These 24 Expert Home Staging Tips can help you in a big way in either a hot or a cold real estate market, increasing your chances of selling, the speed in which it sells, and the price you get.“
1.) MAKE ALL NEEDED REPAIRS
Any small deficiency can take away from the appeal of your home to the potential buyer. A leaky bathroom faucet, a broken door bell, or peeling paint in the bathroom may seem minor to you, but these items could be a sign of overall owner neglect to the home buyer. That is why these minor problems should be either repaired, covered over, or replaced. All these signs of owner neglect must be eliminated. These items may be easily overlooked, so make sure you inspect your home thoroughly so that you can find and repair them. The best thing about these minor repairs is that they are relatively inexpensive and most you can do yourself in a short period of time.
KEY POINT #1 – BUYERS BUY ON EMOTION: believe it or not, almost every buyer buys on emotion (you may remember when you bought your current house, it „felt good“ – that’s emotion talking, not logic). The savvy homeseller looks for ways to present the house to make an emotional connection with the buyer. As the basis of the 24 Expert Home Staging Tips in this article, this is probably the most important point.
2.) PAY ABSOLUTE ATTENTION TO THE FIRST 30 SECONDS
There is convincing evidence that buyers make their minds up during the first 1/2 minute or so, when first viewing a property. That’s why the front walkway, steps, front door, and entrance are so important. Even if your master bedroom on the second floor is gorgeous, if a buyer is turned off by the time they get upstairs, it’s probably too late. Make sure your front walkway is clear of weeds and debris (and ice in winter!), do your best to make the entrance clean and tidy (put away extra shoes and boots), consider painting the front door (nice and shiny!) – creates a great first impression; consider replacing a rusted mailbox, and so on. If your front screen door is torn, replace the screen.
KEY POINT #2 – BUYERS MAKE THEIR MINDS UP QUICKLY, USUALLY IN THE FIRST 30 SECONDS: Professional marketers are paid huge sums to catch people’s interest in the first 30 seconds; they know that after that time, they either have them, or it’s too late Another key point in the 24 Expert Home Staging Tips.
3.) CREATE THE ILLUSION OF SPACIOUSNESS
Professional Home Stagers know that most people look for more living space when they are looking for a new home – and therefore „de-cluttering“ is the first and foremost technique that they use. There are subtle ways to make your home look bigger than it really is. The first thing that you can do to make rooms appear large is by eliminating bulky, unnecessary furniture. A room having more open space appears larger than a room of the same size crowded with furniture. Also, properly placed mirrors can double the size of a room, and you may want to consider purchasing one or more of these. Take unnecessary clothing out of hall and bedroom closets, and store these elsewhere. Having extra room in your closets gives a more luxurious, prosperous feel to the home.
4.) BRIGHTEN YOUR ROOMS
Most people like houses with large, bright, cheerful rooms. How do you get this appearance? If you have a lot of windows, half your problem is solved. Don’t keep the blinds closed – open the drapes and let the sun shine in! If your house doesn’t receive a lot of sunshine, check outside to see if there is something cutting off your light. The solution can be as simple as clearing overgrown shrubs or just washing the windows.
If you have a bright room, hang new, fully mature plants in the room. This will give the impression that the room is perfect for growing beautiful plants. If you have some rooms which receive little sunlight, brighten them up with a light coloured coat of paint. Finally, one of the easiest ways to improve the appearance of any room is to simply increase the wattage of the lightbulbs – the room will not only show better, it will also look bigger.
5.) DEALING WITH AN EYESORE, WHEN YOU HAVE NO CONTROL
Just as you accentuate the bright, clean rooms in your home, you should also hide any negative selling features. One negative selling feature could be any unsightly debris in your neighbour’s outside yard (especially something like an old car or trailer). Don’t try to hide this with heavy drapery, as this is one of the first things that the prospective buyer will look behind. Try to distort the view from the window by hanging a large plant in front of it. If you want to spend more money, you can install shutters. Make sure that the shutter still let the light shine in. Finally, depending with your relationship with your neighbours, you could ask them to clean it up!
KEY POINT #3 – YOUR JOB AS A SELLER IS TO MAKE THE PROSPECTIVE BUYER ‚RELAX‘ AND TO FEEL COMFORTABLE ‚AT HOME‘: when buyers relax, they imagine themselves in the home, and that is the first step to getting an offer.
6.) COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURE
Buyers relax and feel like buying, when they are comfortable. One terrific way to make anyone feel comfortable is to keep your house cozy and warm in winter, and luxuriously cool in summer. During the colder months, even if the house is not normally kept that warm, you don’t want to turn off the buyers by having the house too cold. People may wonder if there are problems with the insulation. It may cost a little more on your hydro or gas bill, but this is not the time to economize. The same rule applies during summer, If it is very hot outside, a nicely cool house will make potential buyers feel more comfortable. Showing off your central air conditioning is a definite selling advantage.
7.) PLAY BACKGROUND MUSIC
Remember Key Point #1 – Buyers buy on emotion. Music has subliminal powers. Stores pipe in soft background music to put customers in a comfortable, relaxed mood for (what else?) buying. If you choose to play music, keep the volume turned down low. Avoid playing music that overly agitates the senses, such as hard rock’n’roll. The music should be just ‚there‘, a soothing selling feature that does not intrude upon peoples‘ conversation.
8.) ELIMINATE UNPLEASANT ODORS
Each home has its own distinct odors, some of which can negatively impact the buyer. Those to watch out for: pets, heavy smokers, cooking smells, spice. Use the best products available to get rid of these undesirable odors, and remember to ‚air out‘ the house by opening a window or two, prior to any open house or showing.
9.) DISPLAY PHOTOGRAPHS THAT SHOW THE HOME DURING OTHER SEASONS
If your home looks gorgeous in spring, you will have trouble conveying this to the buyer in the dead of winter. During the time you own the home, you should take pictures of the outside of the house during different seasons. Show these photos to alleviate uncertainty in the buyer’s mind.
10.) INVEST IN A DOORMAT
There is almost no better or cheaper way to create a good first impression than by buying a new, clean doormat. First impressions are absolutely crucial, and an old worn out doormat is a telltale sign of owner neglect. Also, a good doormat will stop mud from being tracked into your home during the show periods.
11.) MAKE YOUR HOUSE APPEAR WELCOME
As mentioned earlier, first impressions are vital Many people drive up to a house and then drive away immediately if they feel uncomfortable with the property’s outside appearance. Remember, some home buyers view many homes in one day, and they may feel that they can cut down on their work by not spending time viewing homes they are not comfortable with. For example, if your curtains are drawn and most of the lights are off, your house may appear like an impregnable fortress. Put lots of lights on, including the outside porch light, so that they buyer feels welcome.
12.) HIGHLIGHT YOUR FIREPLACE
Almost everybody loves a fireplace! If you have a fireplace, you should use it for all its worth. Season permitting, light a fire every time the house is being shown, and during open houses. A firelit room looks and smells attractive. You can also prove to people that your fireplace does actually work.
13.) HAVE THE BEST-SMELLING HOME
Smells can bring back many nostalgic feelings for a potential buyer. One way you can elicit this is to put some freshly baked cookies or freshly baked bread in the oven. This is an old real estate technique, but it certainly does work. You can even offer freshly baked goods to people during the open house. Another alternative is to put several drops of vanilla extract onto a piece of aluminum foil; then place this in a 250 degree oven. Turn the heat off after 10 minutes, but the aroma will linger throughout the house for hours. Another point, make sure you don’t overdo it with air deodorizers. The last thing you want is for your house to smell like Lysol. This gives the impression that you are trying to hide some unpleasant odor. The more natural your home smells, the more comfortable the buyer will feel. Potpourri is probably the best natural scent, and try to place some in a decorative bowl in key areas – the entrance hallway, the bathroom, the master bedroom.
14.) INVEST IN A SHOWER CURTAIN
You’d be surprised how many people get used to their old, musty shower curtains, but this is the first thing a buyer will notice upon entering the bathroom. Shower curtains are relatively cheap and they can make the room appear brighter.
15.) PUT OUT FRESH TOWELS AND SOAP
To accentuate the bathroom, you should put out fresh towels and new bars of soap. Most people do these things before they have guests over, so why shouldn’t you put these things out for potential buyers? To add to the effect, you can use nice, perfumed bars.
16.) PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR SALE BY ‚DE-PERSONALIZING‘
This is a tough concept for many homeowners to embrace, but professional Home Stagers know that many times, highly personal touches in any home, while they may have a strong emotional connection with the current owner, will not connect with the potential buyer, and may in fact serve to disconnect with them emotionally. For example, things like a doll collection, or a plate collection taking up an entire wall, large amounts of personal family photos displayed throughout the house, tend to prevent the buyer from identifying with the house. It’s always a good idea to remove these highly personal items from the home – the idea is to present the house for sale in a state that everyone can identify with.
17.) USE FLOWERS TO ACCENT YOUR YARD
Even if you do not have a green thumb, you can still dress up your property with flowers. Just go to the nearest nursery and buy fully mature plants that are ready to bloom. A little watering each week can keep these flowers up to par. Be sure to get plants that have already started blooming, and plant them close together for a collective impact. One or two pots of blooming plants on the front step or porch can add immediate charm to the home.
KEY POINT #4: WOMEN ALMOST ALWAYS MAKE THE HOME BUYING DECISION: sorry, men, but with heterosexual couples in North America, and even in our multi-cultural world today, women are almost always the driving force behind home buying, and almost always have the final say on which property is purchased.
Most of the above pointers are designed to appeal especially to women; here are a few which may appeal to both men and women
18.) HIGHLIGHT A WORKBENCH AREA
A properly organized workbench area can be a real selling feature for any home. Don’t leave the work area cluttered and disorganized. Tools always look great when they are neatly mounted on a wall. Also, be sure that there is adequate light in this room.
19.) FIX UP THE DRIVEWAY
This properly falls into the category of ‚first impressions‘. A deteriorated driveway only spells more work for the prospective buyer. Repair cracks and potholes, pull out pesky weeds or get the driveway redone if it needs the work (spraying a new surface can be surprisingly affordable). In the winter, you should make sure the driveway is clear of snow and icy patches. The cleaner the driveway is, the easier it seems to manage to the new home owner. If the house is vacant, have a neighbourhood kid do the shovelling for you. A potential buyer will be impressed that a vacant home is so well kept.
20.) REPLACE OR PAINT THE GARAGE DOOR
One of the most effective things you can do to give your home ‚curb appeal‘ is to put on a fancy garage door. This is a relatively easy way to add a lot of class to an otherwise dull property. Also, garage doors are prime candidates for a fresh coat of paint. A nice, shiny semi-gloss adds immediate appeal to any home, and can be done in an afternoon.
21.) KEEP THE YARD IN GOOD SHAPE
Keep your trees and hedges trimmed, keep your lawn well manicured, keep the grass well watered, edge the areas between the sidewalk and the grass – all this work will add to a good first impression of the house. If you have a dog, make absolutely sure that the lawn is clean. Weed the flower garden, and keep your deck or patio clean and clear of debris.
22.) SPEND A LITTLE TIME ON GENERAL MAINTENANCE
Put away all clutter, make sure the beds are made and rooms are tidy during showings. Polish the floors, vacuum the rugs, paint or re-paper the walls where needed. Replace burnt-out bulbs, clean or replace shades, lenses, covers, etc. Check all switches for operation. Check all doors that they open and close easily and freely; oil any hinges that squeak. Clean and polish all appliances – stove, fridge, washer, dryer, etc. Pay special attention to stovetop burners and the ventilating hood and fan.
23.) GET RID OF ACCUMULATED STUFF IN THE YARD
Trailers, boats, campers, additional automobiles, and so on should be stored elsewhere until after the sale. Any items which must be stored outside should be neatly stored and/or covered.
24.) TRY AND BE OUT DURING SHOWINGS
Buyers are always more relaxed when the vendors are not there; take the dog for a walk, go for a coffee, take the kids to the park, whatever – but try and be away during showings.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE ADVANCED METHODS THAT WILL HELP YOU TO SELL FASTER & BETTER. THE DEGREE TO WHICH YOU WANT TO FIX UP YOUR HOME IS UP TO YOU, BUT EACH METHOD YOU USE WILL BRING RESULTS.
by Randy Selzer