The reality of today’s market is the inventory of homes available surpasses the number of serious buyers looking. This doesn’t equate to “bad news” for sellers, if you view the situation with an open mind. The buyers out there looking really want to buy a new home. They face more stringent loan qualification parameters today and are serious when they begin their real estate searches. Armed with that knowledge, wise sellers will work with their Realtors to make their homes the most appealing in their price range. In addition, savvy Realtors, and their clients, know that it doesn’t take a ton of money to achieve a polished, showcase appearance.
Do a quick Internet search for tips on how to sell your home quickly . The top suggestions revolve around staging your home for sale. Staging a home is a multi-pronged process that starts with releasing of the emotions involved with selling your home. We tend to surround ourselves with things that have meaning to us, family portraits, special collections, books and hobbies we enjoy. While that’s a healthy way to live, it does not help potential buyers imagine themselves being at home in your home. You want your home to be appealing to potential buyers— if they can’t be free to picture themselves in your home, it’ll be tough to sell. With the goal of selling your home firmly in place, you can move on to the next item on every staging list out in the blogosphere.
De-clutter. This act alone will put you miles ahead of the other homes in your price range, and may help you achieve a higher priced offer. De-cluttering is a daunting task to face, but by making lists and delving in one small step at a time, a home can be de-cluttered effectively in a timely manner. I love the advice of Mary Pankiewicz, of Clutter-Free & Organized , in the Realty Times article linked at the beginning of this paragraph. She advises to lean on this question when de-cluttering: “What will make me use this, or what will make me need this?” We can justify we may need something, at some time, thus adding it unnecessarily to the “keep” pile. When asking pointedly how you will use the item (or what situation you would use it in), this helps pinpoint the usefulness, or sentimental nature, of the item. Bottom line: are you willing to pay for storage of the item? If the answer is no, or even maybe, then out the door it should go. If you’d rather go the DIY route than work with an organization specialist, check out the Flylady’s website. She can help you kick CHAOS to the curb. She even has developed a Realtor Challenge to help with the de-cluttering process.
Neutral colors are another mantra in staging a home. Selecting a neutral paint scheme doesn’t have to equate boring. Check out the pantone color trends for 2009; they feature a few luscious neutrals and a selection of dazzling colors to accent with. Look at what you already possess which may fit into today’s trendy colors. Paint is a bargain pick-me-up for staging a home. By sticking close to neutrals that are hot this year, your home will be more inviting to potential buyers. Also, when strategically placing bric-a-brac accents in a room, less is more. The staging consensus is the 1 or 3 dynamic when putting together an accent statement.
Don’t overlook the outside of your home. The first impression a potential buyer has of your place is the yard and entrance. Take a little time to de-clutter outside. Remove any dead annuals, trim up died back perennials, place a pot (or three) of early spring flowers to spruce up your entry. Clean gutters, scrub the front door hardware, touch up paint as necessary—even consider repainting your door an inviting, complimentary color. Also, make sure your house number is visible.
Keep your house clean. Selling your house can be a stressful time, and it can feel overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help, or spend a little on a housecleaning service. It’ll save your sanity. Barb Schwarz, the queen of home staging, advocates “Q-Tip Clean.”
“Q-Tip clean,” as Schwarz puts it. “I mean Q-Tips getting dead flies out of your windowsill [and] going around the bottom of your toilet on the floor…”
By taking time to intently dust, attack cob webs, use q-tips to get at those tough-to-clean spots, and shine up tile and fixtures, your house will imbue comfort and high-quality, no matter your price range. Minimize your pet’s footprint in your home while your house is on the market; take your pet with you, if at all possible, when your home is shown. There are a lot of options out there for pet owners to deodorize their homes without making them smell perfumed.
If you put in some work now to stage your home for sale, it will help your Realtor, who will be working hard to promote your home. Your Realtor needs to focus his/her time where it’s needed most: pricing and marketing your home to attract buyers.