Preparing your home for sale is extremely important. For buyers, a first impression is everything. If a home is cluttered or has bad odors; that can adversely affect the possibility for a sale and your final selling price. In order to maximize your selling potential, any realtor will tell you to "stage" your home. And guess what, they're right!
Before your home is even listed on the market, here are a few tips on how to prepare your home (and yourself) for its sale.
Detach Your Emotions
Your goal is to create a space where other people can picture themselves living there. Reminders of your life will distract potential buyers from that. Pack away your personal items, especially photos, souvenirs and any other mementos.
Clean and reorganize
Scrub your home from top to bottom. Vacuum carpets, polish the floors, bathrooms and fixtures, organize the basement and garage.
Make sure kitchen countertops are cleared off completely; it will make the space look bigger. Remove toaster ovens, coffee pots, canisters, etc. But don't make the mistake of stuffing your cabinets! Buyers look in there too.
Restructure closets and pack away as many belongings as possible. If you have a lot of things, seriously consider renting a storage room; it will have been worth the extra fee and make your home show better and sell faster.
Stage empty rooms
Empty rooms make it hard for buyers to get a good sense of the space. Large rooms look cavernous, and small rooms look even smaller when empty. Oddly shaped rooms make it especially hard for buyers to visualize. How about a guest room? Office? Hobby Room? Define the space.
Stage furnished rooms
Nine times out of ten, you will have too much furniture in each room. Take some out. It is important to emphasize the features of the home, such as a fireplace, custom paneling and space. Don't move the items you eliminate to the basement or attic! Instead, use them to stage other rooms, or move them to a storage facility. You might even consider selling the items on Patch.com if you won't be taking them with you.
Brighten and lighten
Light-filled rooms are always appealing. Open blinds and make sure your windows are sparkling clean. If there are no windows in the room, make sure the lighting is adequate. A great trick is to install high wattage light bulbs.
A fresh coat of neutral colored paint also goes a long way. If your walls are tired, scuffed or dirty, a quick paint job will brighten things up. But remember to stick with simple, neutral colors.
Spark your buyer's imagination
The key is to make it feel like home to them. Often, the smell of freshly baked cookies is recommended. Now, there are air fresheners that smell just like these homemade goodies. But be careful not to laden your home with too many scents or strong potpourri.
Consider setting the dining room table for a formal dinner, or light the fireplace on a cold day. And don't forget to add some fresh flowers.
Make it "move-in ready"
Buyers prefer to see a home in good condition. Have a friend or relative walk through the entire house. They will notice things you will have missed. Check for uneven doors that don't close properly, loose door knobs and locks. Even small things such as a dripping faucet can detract from the value of your home.
Don't be too unique
Keep your decor simple with neutral wall colors and window treatments. Unusual accessories, strong wall colors and patterned drapery will invoke a feeling of "out-datedness."
Be cautious with any renovations
The right change can often boost the price of a home, but be careful not to do it with too much flair. Your unique style may set you apart, but it might also shrink your potential pool of buyers.
And don't forget to keep your neighborhood in mind. Actual returns depend not only on the renovations themselves, but also on how your home compares to your neighbor's. If your home is already above market value for your location, any transformations may not yield any returns.
Maximize your curb appeal
Make sure your lawn is mowed, trees are pruned and flowers are blooming in spring and summer. In autumn and winter, ensure clean sidewalks and driveways, and a well-maintained yard.
If the exterior of a home has chipped paint, broken shutters, or cracked pavements and stonework, consider having them repaired. Often, if a buyer sees these issues, it will lead to thoughts of more severe problems with the house. As a homeseller, you will want to leave buyers with the impression that you have maintained this home with care.
Check out the photos for example of what you should aim for, and what you should steer away from.
Rose Marinaccio is the Office Manager of Engel & Voelkers, Scarsdale. She will be writing a weekly column on real estate issues. You may reach her by email at Rose.Marinaccio@engelvoelkers.com.