Homebuyers will view your house at least twice before deciding to make an offer. Their first viewing is via the pictures online and the second is an on-site visit (such as at an open house). The better your property looks for the pictures and for the site visit(s), the better (and more likely) the offer.
Here are 10 tips to make your home present even better:
1. Create space by reducing excess or oversized items.
How we live in our homes is usually functional for us, but is more often than not quite different than how it needs to be for showings and pictures. We want to provide as large of a canvas as possible and allow the prospective buyers to mentally and emotionally paint their stuff into your space.
People don’t want to see your blender as much as they want to see your countertops; nor do they want to see your book collection, your extra filing cabinet, crates of craft supplies, and so forth. If you have a large bed or couch, for example, in a small room, switching it for something smaller again increases the size of the proverbial canvas.
What should I do with the excess?
- Store it
– tidily stack stuff you must access in the garage (you can even bring it back in between showings)
– store non-essentials off-site, such as in a storage unit (you want your garage to look spacious, too)
- DON’T fill the closets and crawl space with stuff – these important areas are part of the canvas.
- Donate it to a thrift store (many will even pick up!)
- Sell it via garage sale or Craigslist
- Trash it if it isn’t usable for you or someone else
2. Make a “Hertz Impression”.
An executive at car rental giant Hertz once explained that his detailing staff spends a disproportionate amount of time detailing the area in and around the driver’s side door, so the customer’s first impression is a positive *WOW!*.
Make the first impression of a prospective buyer positive by making your home’s entrance impressive by:
- Freshening the paint on doors, door jams, handrails
- Removing cobwebs, weeds, and cleaning siding
- Ensuring that handrails are attached, doorknobs and door bells are functional, and there are no tripping hazards
- Adding a potted flower arrangement
- Eliminating any unpleasant smells
- Putting out a welcome mat
3. Let there be light!
There is very little appeal to living in a cave, so don’t allow your house to look like one! Besides being a little depressing, dark rooms appear smaller. A handful of ways to brighten things up include:
- Open all blinds and curtains, maximizing the amount of natural light.
- Repaint darker coloured walls with lighter neutral colours.
- Replace dim light bulbs with brighter ones – even brighter than normal – preferably uniform in shade of white and style.
- Add lamps to areas with less light.
- Also, if it’s a nice day, open some windows for fresh air.
4. Little things can be big problems.
- Make a list of little fixes that need to be made around the house and projects that haven’t quite been finished; then prioritize them; then start one at a time. What belongs on the list? Anything distract someone from all the good that is in your home. Examples include, but are not limited to:
– Closet and cupboard doors that don’t open properly
– Torn screens or jammed screen doors
– Dated or unfinished paint
– Cracks, nicks, and dings in the drywall
– Burnt out lights
– Detached siding
5. No one needs to see that!
This is a companion to the others, but deserves its own category. Put items out of sight that would distract in any way from the “canvas”. Some double as security issues, too. This is intended to be a broad statement because the options vary widely. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Jewelry and other valuable items
- Prescription medication
- Your bills
- Animal poop in the yard and/or litter box
- An excess of family photos (some are fine)
- Rodent traps
- Personal items in your walk-in closet
- Exposed dirty laundry (no one wants to see your underwear!)
- Stinky garbage
6. Exterior touches.
This is a cousin to 2, but has a focus beyond just the entrance to the entire yard.
- Cut and edge the grass
- Trim the bushes
- Kill and pull weeds from the driveway, patio, and yard
- Plant some flowers and/or put out flowering hanging baskets
- Pressure wash the siding
- Fix the fence
- Freshen paint and stain
- Ensure that patio furniture is not distracting
- Tidy toys, etc.
7. To update or not to update? . . . What a good question!
What decade does your kitchen look like when you walk into it? At what point do you swap out the lighting fixtures, the cupboards, upgrade to granite countertops, and bring in stainless steel appliances?
Here are a few considerations for the kitchen or any other room:
- Updates usually will not entirely return your investment (just because I put $13,000 into my kitchen doesn’t mean I can expect a $13,000 higher sale price), but it may be difference between selling your home or making your competition look even better.
- A fairly typical order of priority is 1) kitchens, 2) bathrooms (especially master), 3) flooring, 4) paint. This order changes quickly depending on the buyer and/or the condition of any of these. Someone may be able to look past laminate countertops that are still in good condition, but not past the bubble gum pink walls.
- In lieu of completing updates, you can price your property below the competition or offer, for example, a kitchen or flooring allowance. Keep in mind that many people do not want to walk into a project or won’t be able to see past the dated look. However, some don’t mind at all and rather customize to their taste.
- Make sure whatever you have looks and operates as good as it can. Examples include, but are not limited to:
– Cupboards are properly attached
– Water sprays from the faucet properly
– Light fixtures are secured and don’t flicker
- Not every update needs to be an overhaul. While new kitchen cabinets may be optimal, painting or re-staining the existing ones and updating the knobs would put them leaps ahead of where they are for a fraction of the price.
- Modern stainless steel appliances and kitchen backsplashes are very attractive features for buyers right now, both of which are easy to employ.
8. Clean – not just tidy.
It’s great that we’ve got rid of our excess stuff, updated some things, and the place is looking quite tidy; but we’re falling short if it’s not also clean. If you don’t have time for a deep clean, hire someone with expertise who does. A few key areas include, but are not limited to:
- Cobwebs and dust layered in the corners or on fans
- Cloudy residue on shower doors and counters and other residue on toilets
- Glass and mirrors
- Grease, etc. in appliances and in the kitchen
- Get dirty dishes in the dishwasher . . . or even in a covered tote in the garage temporarily if time is tight.
9. A great smell makes a house memorable.
A bad smell turns people off, but a good one does just the opposite. Before showings, bake cookies (and share them with your Realtor), or boil cinnamon sticks, or light vanilla-scented candles. Avoid perfume or other strong fragrances. You can spray Febreeze in areas that need it, but that is not the intended smell. Glade Plug-Ins or similar products (vanilla scented) work great also.
10. Fresh linens.
Make sure beds are made and bathrooms are stocked. Try to have beds look their best (i.e. blanket in good condition and attractive, bed skirt), especially in the master. Put out bathroom linens that are clean and look fresh and new. Make sure the toilet paper and soap are stocked, too.
What else you can do:
- Go walk through Ikea. Their store is one staged room after another, one good example after another.
- Google or YouTube “Home staging for selling” or similar phrases. There are endless numbers of people with opinions on this. Some will differ from mine, and some may explain what I’ve written even better. Accumulate ideas and start implementing them.
- Remember that typically most improvements won’t increase your sales price as much as they cost, but they will position your home better against your competition. However, when your home looks A LOT better than the competition, in a busy market especially, you may start attracting multiple offers, which drives up the price and you might find that your investment had a fantastic return.
For additional questions, contact me. I am happy to help!
“ReliableJim” James Olson
REALTOR / Community Supporter