While it’s true the soft real estate market is making homes more difficult to sell, there are some simple steps you can take to make yours stand out from the many others for sale and give a fabulous first impression. We happened to get lucky and sell our home in less than 10 days, and I’m confident these tips and tricks are what helped.
- Declutter. This an obvious first start, as the thing you want buyers to notice is your home’s features, not your stuff. But the decluttering method goes for big stuff too, like furniture. Our realtor pointed out that our beloved overstuffed comfy chair in the family room was in the way of the room’s natural traffic pattern just a bit. As long as we could do without the chair for a while, we put it in storage. Same goes for a tall dresser in the bedroom. It looked nice but added a bit too much weight to the room, making it feel smaller. That also went into storage next to the chair. Other furniture items that were cast off until moving day: an extra book shelf in the kid’s room, a toy box in the family room, and an extra bar stool at the island. Once those were moved out, the rooms took on a lighter, more airy feel.
- Define any rooms that don’t show an obvious purpose, or create a new setting to show off versatility. This can sound confusing and may not apply if you already have well-defined rooms and spaces. In our case it was a basement utility room. It was lined with neat shelves that had plastic tubs of storage items- perfect, since all perspective buyers want storage space, right? That’s what we thought. There was also a long counter top that generally was a dumping ground for miscellaneous items that needed to be put away or donated- tools, out-of season clothes, wrapping paper, etc. While we were pleased with ourselves for keeping the area cleared off as we prepped our house for selling, our realtor came up with a fabulous idea: stage the counter top to look like a craft area. I added neat colorful bins of markers and scrapbooking paper, and instantly it appeared as if this room had another purpose, which appears as a bonus to buyers.
- Lighten up! Lots of light makes spaces brighter and more attractive. Consider removing heavy drapes, keeping blinds open, and adding accent lighting in the form of table or floor lamps. Other easy tips: clean windows inside and out- you’ll be amazed at what this simple step will do. Also change out light bulbs to the highest watt possible for the fixture or lamp.
- Paint. Whether you have all white walls or walls already awash in your favorite bright hues, consider painting everything in neutrals. But neutral doesn’t have to mean boring beige. These days neutral runs the gamut from soft golds to deeper browns to pale blues and greens. And while you have your paint supplies out, touch up trim, baseboards, window casings, doors, and the areas around doors and light switches that can be a magnet for finger prints.
- Pack up the memories: put away all personal photos and mementos, bulletin boards or memo boards, and don’t forget the refrigerator. As much as you love your large custom-framed wedding photo and your toddler’s drawings adorning the front of the fridge, prospective buyers want to envision themselves in the home, not see personal items of the current owners.
- Once your personal items are packed away, soften the space with other splashes of color, scents and touch: add a vase of fresh flowers to the table, put a soft, plush throw across the edge of a bed, and flank the mantel with colorful candles.
- Bake cookies. Nothing smells as good and homey as fresh baked cookies. Buy some refrigerated cookie dough to keep on hand, and throw a batch in the oven right before a scheduled showing. Before prospective buyers arrive, turn off the stove and leave the cookies inside, or if you’re feeling extra hospitable, add them to a plate with a note to help themselves to one. The warm aroma will make a welcome and lasting impression.
About the Author
Lisa enjoys home DIY projects, gardening, and writes and blogs about products for moving.