Selling a home is not an easy task, but there are several things you can do to get more people interested–and perhaps make a sell.
Let’s start from the outside in. Take a close look at the appearance of your house from the outside. Does the house need paint, are yard repairs necessary, does the property have curb appeal?
“Stage the outside perfectly. Pressure wash the driveway. Clean up the lawn and plantings. If needed, refinish or paint the front door. Fix everything that is damaged or in need of maintenance–paint, gutters, window sashes, etc. Curb appeal is absolutely necessary to encourage buyers to come inside your home, rather than pass it by. Sellers often forget that a buyer’s first impression is the exterior, and it can easily be their last! It’s important to make your home as welcoming as possible, and that starts with the outside of the home,” explains Kim Crieger Goodwin, principal broker and owner of Crieger Goodwin Real Estate Sales, a family-run brokerage in Eugene, Oregon.
Now for the inside. There are three steps to take, says Tiffany Parker, owner of Parker Interiors Staging & Redesign which works with homeowners in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. metro area. “Clean, purge, and repair. These three things set the foundation for any successful attempt to sell your home,” she says. “People will notice if your home is dirty. It makes your home feel uncared for and layering pretty things on top of a dirty backdrop will not distract from the dirt. Purging will make all of your storage areas (closets, cabinets, pantries) look larger and better organized. It will also eliminate clutter and personal items. Repairing what’s broken will make your first impression so much better. It will also remove potential items from the home inspection report which become bargaining chips if the buyer wants to get a lower price.”
Now, most experts advise you to take out all the personal touches. So get rid of the family photos, knickknacks, and you might even want to move out some of the furniture. You want buyers to picture themselves in the home, not you. “You should declutter your interior spaces and edit out any personal photos, awards or degrees, in your home. This personal information should not be presented to your buyers, who will make assumptions about you, and could use information they find as a bargaining tool at the offer stage. Additionally, if they see your wedding photo, pictures of the last vacation you took, or pictures of the kids, it will be more difficult for them to see your house as ‘theirs’ instead of ‘yours,’” adds Jill Hosking-Cartland of Windham, New Hampshire-based Hosking Interiors.
With all–or most of–your stuff gone, you still need to make the place look livable. This is where staging comes in. “Staging is a necessity now, not an option. Fifteen years ago, only a minority of homes were staged. Buyers didn’t expect that level of “finish” from the homes they viewed. Now, the market has changed dramatically. The popularity of HGTV and its many remodeling/redecorating shows is reflected in the tastes of the modern home buyer,” Crieger Goodwin points out. “Today’s buyers almost always want a home that is “move-in ready”, needs no work, and feels like a Pottery Barn showroom. New homebuilders picked up on this change years ago, and now always have one or more tastefully decorated and staged tour homes for prospective buyers to view. In a market where existing homes are competing with new construction, staging is an absolute must.”
Staging can actually help you move your home on the market. “Statistically, staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes. You don’t want to leave money on the table and you want to make sure you compare favorably against any competition,” notes Parker.
Decor Mistakes To Avoid
–Color Confusion: Steer clear of far-out colors. Play it safe with neutral tones. “Using colors, art or accessories that are too personal or potentially offensive. Orange may be a great color for your dining room but a large segment of the buying population is going to hate that color. Also, it’s important to avoid art and accessories that depict religion, politics, warfare/weaponry or sensual topics,” says Parker.
–Style Mashup: Don’t mix in a lot of different decor styles–stick to one as much as possible. “I think the biggest decor mistake is updating a home in a style that is not consistent with the style of the property. Today, for example, I was in a home that was Spanish, but the tile in the bathrooms said ‘mid-century.’ People are going to walk through and, even if they can’t put their finger on it, have a feeling of non-cohesiveness,” says Beverly Hills realtor Victoria Massengale.
–Doing Too Much: Don’t go overboard with your decor. “One mistake is making more upgrades than the neighborhood comps can support,” shares Massengale. “I recently sold a house for a couple. They had intended on keeping it as their ‘forever home’, but had a job move out of state. They put in custom Soap Stone counters, reclaimed oak floors from a 100-year-old barn in Pennsylvania, a meditation room with heated floors. They shipped the tiles for the roof from Europe and had a master artisan hand trowel the plaster walls. Needless to say, they did not get the money they had hoped from the improvements. It still sold for over three million dollars, but it was a disappointment to learn others did not place as much value on the improvements as they did.”
–Ditch It: One mistake home sellers make is refusing to eliminate some of the furniture from rooms. “All that furniture only makes a room feel smaller, hides the flooring, and makes the buyer feel they have to negotiate a maze in order to get to the next room,” says Hosking-Cartland.