Preparing Your Home For Sale
You Never Get a Second Chance to Make A First Impression (Revisited)
You've certainly heard that said many times before, most likely from a well-intentioned parent. When you put your home on the market, though, those words (and their implication) become both challenged and amplified.
Sound like a contradiction? Well, not exactly. The internet and the broad assortment of online marketing tools have dramatically changed your opportunities. In other words, you do in fact get many opportunities to make a first impression simply because there are so many pairs of eyes that your property gets exposed to. On the other hand, all those pairs of eyes are being exposed to many, many other properties as well, so not doing your best to create a great first impression might actually cost you. Cost you what, you might ask? It could well cost you that particular buyer who might be willing to give you the very best price and terms for your home!
Preparing your home (called Staging) is really not so much about decorating. Let me give you an example. Close your eyes and picture a room. Let's make it a Living Room. It has lots of furniture in it, heavy drapery covers the massive picture windows. The light fixtures all have lower wattage bulbs in them for that "cozy" feeling. Now, imagine the very same room where the drapery is at the very least fully opened (perhaps even totally removed...and if the windows are dirty, picture them clean and clear!), the light fixtures get their bulbs replaced with brighter ones, perhaps a couple of pieces of furniture are removed from the room. What do you notice about that room? It's suddenly larger, lighter, more welcoming. Someone seeing the room now feels the "growing room".
To help you through the process of creating your best "first impressions" (each and every one of them), here are suggestions you might find useful:
- Start "de-cluttering". This applies to walls, floors, cupboards, drawers, closets, even the garage. Lot at it this way ... you're moving anyway. Why not pack up, throw out, give away things you don't use on a regular basis. You'll have to do it anyway when the home sells, and doing it BEFORE those eyes appear will most certainly translate into a quicker, easier sale. Buyers understand boxes when you're preparing to move, so feel free to box things up and neatly store them in your garage or basement, away from the main living areas of the home.
- De-personalize your home. It's common for people to have plenty of family photos on walls and shelves throughout their home, but for the most part, those should be removed. Why? Buyers tend to be nosey and will spend much too much time checking out your family rather than your house. But even more important than that, the more "present" you and your family are in the home, the more difficult it will be for the buyer to imagine themselves living there. After all, they want to move into their home, not yours.
- As you are going through the home, pay particular attention to medicines and valuables. Neither you nor your agent has complete control over every movement of every person who enters your home, so packing away your valuables, and placing medications in a secure, inaccessible spot is simply good sense.
- De-clutter shelves and counters. Buyers like homes where they feel that their things will comfortable fit (but not fill up) an area. Too many fabulous small appliances on kitchen counters simply fill up those counters. Remove as many of them as you possibly can.
- Pay particular attention to the most visible and desirable areas of your home (living room, kitchen, family room, baths, foyer). These should always be kept clean and light, and free of clutter.
- Refrain from smoking in the home as much as possible. Smoking leaves a very lasting, stale odor that can turn eager buyers right on their heals as soon as they get a whif. Those "first impressions" are not always the visual ones. The same holds true of strong cooking odors (such as fish, garlic, curry, or cabbage).
- Nothing pleases prospective buyers more than a clean, well maintained home. So if yours does not yet qualify, it's really important to take the necessary steps to be sure it does before you put it on the market. Buyers tend to feel that when what they can see is well cared for, chances are what they cannot see is as well. The same holds true in reverse ... and that can cost you thousands!
- Sometimes a well-positioned mirror can visually expand a small space. Keep that in mind as you're looking through your own home.
- By all means, if there are any repairs that need to be made (sticking doors, leaky faucets, windows that are painted shut, cracks and nail pops in ceilings and walls) take care of them before putting your home on the market.
- Ask a friend or family member (preferably the most critical of them) to go through your home with you and pretend they were a prospective buyer. Sometimes they'll notice things that you might have missed.
- Think about the model homes you have walked through over the years. Lights are on, soft music might be playing in the background, fresh fragrances might fill the air. Those kinds of things tend to appeal positively to all the sense of buyers looking at the homes. That's exactly what you should try to achieve as well.
One tool you might find particularly helpful in determining what needs to be done is to walk through your home with a camera. You'll find the camera's eye often sees things you might otherwise not have noticed. For example, how often have you seen photos of kitchens painstakingly stripped of all clutter, but the only thing you remember about the kitchen was how "unkempt" it felt because of the 60 or so magnets burying the refrigerator! To help you go through your property, inside and out, and see it as a buyer would see it, here's a room by room, feature by feature checklist.
For some people, getting their home prepared for the market comes almost naturally. But most people have a hard time with the distiction between "living in" a home and preparing that home for the marketplace. If you would like Home Staging Consultation to help put you on the right track toward getting the most for your home, please complete the form below.