I have a friend who lives in a neighborhood that really can’t be beat. The location is superb. The yards in the neighborhood all are nicely kept, the neighbors are friendly, and the homes are spacious. But there is one house that has been sitting on the market for months! Despite great curb appeal, this home seems a market anomaly. What could be the problem?
One word: Staging. This home, while beautiful on the outside has been decorated in a style that could only be described as gaudy with a heavy touch of gold. Not to mention the fact that, like many homes that sit on the market too long (and lose market value as a result), buyers come in and are so overwhelmed with the style and smell of the current owners that they really can’t see themselves in the home.
The real estate market in NW Arkansas is hot right now. But even in a hot market your home can sit for weeks and even months if you don’t put some upfront effort into making your home visually and emotionally appealing to potential buyers. Here are 10 ways you can grab buyers from the get-go.
1. Curb appeal counts
Admit it. You’ve passed up houses in your own home searches because the lawn was full of weeds and the shrubs were dead. Your initial impression was that if the home wasn’t cared for on the outside, the inside is likely to be just as bad–or worse. So take a look at your home exterior with a fresh, critical eye. Get rid of the dead shrubs. Mow the lawn. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door and get a few nice potted flowers to brighten up your front porch.
Think sparse. Really sparse. Pack up or get rid of everything that isn’t essential to your daily life. This may require that you rent a storage unit, or make some tough decisions about your collection of antique bottles. Get rid of the pile of magazines and the bazillion pairs of shoes that the kids leave in the entryway. And don’t just hide it. Buyers look in every closet. Get it in boxes and get it out of the house. The end result is that the space becomes the showpiece–not your stuff. Not to mention the added benefit that when your house sells, moving will be a heck of a lot easier.
3. Don’t just clean. Make it sparkle.
This is one of those times where a quick once-over with the vacuum cleaner just won’t do. I’m talking “hotel clean” in every corner of your house. No detail is too small. Wipe down every cabinet, every baseboard. Mop and shine the floor. Clean the windows and sills. Scrub every tub and sink until it shines! And pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom. These are two areas where people are especially sensitive to dirt and odors. This may take a few days of concentrated cleaning, but your efforts will be worth it!
4. Think neutral and light
Pink may have been the perfect color for your little girl’s bedroom, but again, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Maybe this bedroom will be a guest room or an office. Repainting with neutral colors will broaden your home’s appeal and even makes rooms appear larger! Also, open up blinds and draperies to make sure there’s sufficient natural light throughout the home. Remember, mood is affected by lighting and you want your potential buyers to feel light and happy when they walk through your home.
5. Take the “you” out of your home.
5. Consider replacing or rearranging furnishings.
First of all, most of us end up with more furniture in a room than the space really needs. Get the extra pieces out. Next, think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings or invest in a few slipcovers and accent pillows to freshen up your look. And don’t worry about matching sets. Nowadays, mismatched and eclectic pairings can actually look fresh and modern. If you don’t think you have a good eye for style, consider consulting with a professional staging company for help with design and advice on rental furnishings.
6. Invest in new artwork.
You’d be surprised at some of the great, inexpensive artwork you can pick up at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or Tuesday Morning. A few larger wall pieces, can be used to update a room and add a splash of color as well.
7. Make ALL the repairs.
It’s time to finish the honey-do list. Repair every dent or ding in the walls. Apply a little WD-40 to squeaky or tough-to-open door hinges. And those cabinet doors in the kitchen that are sagging because the screws are coming out of the woodwork? Get longer screws and tighten them up. Get it done now, before the buyer writes it into the contract and negotiates the price down because they will have to do it themselves.
9. Don’t forget the floors and fixtures.
Look down. Now look up. Flooring and fixtures can make or break a home. Replace worn carpets, and consider refinishing damaged hardwood floors. And don’t forget, an inexpensive new area rug is a quick fix and can disguise the look of old floors.
You can also renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches and outlets. If it’s older than you, get it out of there. You can find inexpesive, modern fixtures at any home improvement store and they are easy to swap out yourself.
10. The Final Touch
The final touch of staging is adding the little details that send emotional messages to your buyers. A bright tablecloth or place setting says, “This is the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of coffee or a family dinner!” A vase of fresh-cut flowers can perk up a room. And of course, the smell of fresh-baked cookies… Who can resist that?
You could spend a lot of money or a little, but the dividends in spending the extra time to spruce up and modernize your home could literally result in thousands of dollars added to the price of the home. And it could make the difference between days or weeks, or literally months on the market.