BEFORE YOUR HOME IS LISTED AND SHOWN
One of the keys to success in today’s ultra-competitive real estate market is to position your home as the most desirable property at a given price in a given area. Obviously, the most important variable in that equation is the price. But making sure your home is in optimal showing condition will set it apart from the competition and could be the difference between a timely and productive sale and a long, drawn-out process.
Here is a checklist of preparations to make before showing your home. Be sure to consult your @properties agent to find out what improvements they recommend.
De-Clutter. Go through your home room by room and ask yourself what you can throw away and what you can box up and put in storage. Pay extra attention to areas like closets, bookcases, shelves, and kitchen and bathroom counters.
Organize. Lack of storage space can be a deal-breaker. Go through your closets and pantries and throw away, give away or put away anything you don’t need. Clean out bedroom closets so that hanging clothes are aligned and have ample space. Remove items from closet floors. Reorganize and clean out your kitchen cabinets and line up dishes and glassware. Make sure the bathroom and kitchen drawers are neatly organized – even your junk drawer.
Clean. Give your home a deep clean from top to bottom, including windows, upholstery and carpet, and the refrigerator and oven (yes, buyers actually open them).
Paint. A fresh coat of paint is the least expensive, most effective way to enhance the appearance of your home. Be sure to use neutral colors. Consult your agent for recommendations.
Brighten your home. Light gives the impression of space, so it’s important for every room in your home to have ample light at any time of day. Prior to showings, wash windows, raise blinds and turn on lights. Add floor and table lamps to brighten dark rooms or corners.
Maintain the exterior. If you live in a single-family home or townhome, maintain your lawn and landscaping. In winter, shovel and de-ice walkways. In a condominium, pay attention to the area in front of the doorway. Keep it neat and inform the superintendent of any problems, such as burned-out lights. Make balconies, decks, and patios inviting with potted plants and flowers.
Make repairs. Consult with your agent prior to undertaking a large-scale home improvement project, but go ahead and make easy repairs such as touch-up spackling and painting, replacing a cracked window or torn screen, fixing a leaky faucet, and changing burned-out light bulbs.
Remove personal property. If you do not plan on including personal property such as window treatments or light fixtures as part of a sale, then remove them prior to your first showing and replace them with attractive alternatives.
Remove pets. Keep pets out of the home during showings. Also, be sure to conceal food bowls and litter boxes. If pet odors are present, have the home professionally cleaned.
Hire a home inspector. Hiring a professional, licensed home inspector prior to putting your home on the market allows you to spot potential problems and make repairs before buyers make them an issue.
Disclose everything. By law, sellers must disclose existing structural and mechanical problems, flooding, the presence of lead paint, information on radon hazards and other known defects to potential buyers. Withholding this information can have much more serious repercussions than the problem itself.
Staging your home
Staging, the art of merchandising a home to improve its marketability, used to be reserved for homes or rooms with serious deficiencies. But today, every home that is listed for sale should be staged to some degree. Your home must show like a model in order to stand out in today’s competitive market. Staging can be as simple as rearranging a few pieces of furniture or as elaborate as hiring a professional to furnish an empty home right down to the plants and artwork. Your @properties agent can give you suggestions for staging or help you decide if you would benefit from a professional stager. Here are some easy and inexpensive staging tips to consider:
- Use neutral colors and décor to help your home appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. Add color through accessories such as pillows, vases, and oriental rugs.
- Arrange furniture in small groupings that demonstrate a room’s functionality, and do not overcrowd a room with furniture. Place pieces in a way that dictates logical traffic flow.
- Use light, airy window treatments, like simple sheers on a curtain rod. Hang window treatments so they cover the least amount of glass.
- Higher wattage light bulbs can brighten up dark areas, while dimmers are a low-cost way to add a desirable feature and allow you to increase or decrease light levels in different rooms.
- Camouflage outdated furniture or worn upholstery with slipcovers, and replace worn bedspreads and throw rugs.
- Keep kitchen counters clean and clear of all items, and remove all magnets and notes from the front of the refrigerator. If your kitchen needs an update, paint cupboards with a neutral color and replace knobs on cabinets.
- Remove all personal items from the bathroom counter. Stock fresh towels and get a new shower curtain and rug for the floor.
- Personal photographs and mementos add warmth and character to home but use them in moderation so the buyer will focus on the home, not its owners.
- Use interesting accessories to draw the eye to desirable features like built-in shelving, bookcases, or fireplace mantels.
- Display fresh flowers.
- If you have collectibles, display them in neat, uncluttered groupings.
- Remember outdoor spaces like your backyard, patio, or balcony. Add furniture, plants, or potted flowers with seasonal settings.