By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
The early spring home selling-season is kicking off. There’s no time like the present to start decluttering and transforming your lived-in home into a show-worthy property to make a positive impression on potential buyers. That means attending to the most important details that will create mass buyer appeal and increase your home’s value.
“A seller has to try to be objective by looking at their home as a product or some other commodity that one would purchase,” says Lisa Gallagher, a real estate professional with William Raveis, Newtown, Conn. “You have only one chance to get it right so present your home in the best possible light.”
Indeed, 95 percent of homes that are staged by professional home stagers sell, on average, in 35 days or less and for near the asking price – versus 140 days for non-staged homes, according to a study by the Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP), a national staging trade organization.
Staged homes also show better in photographs.
“Homes that are prepared for market and look good on the Internet, usually sell the quickest,” Gallagher says. “Time is money and less time on the market means less stress and frustration for the seller.”
While some homes may require more work than others, the following represent our top staging "do’s and don’ts" that are essential in getting your property ready for sale.
PJ & Co.'s Top 5 Do's in Home Staging
1. Focus on curb appeal. Make the best first impression by sprucing up the lawn and landscape.
- Remove dead or overgrown shrubs.
- Touch up any peeling paint, and power wash the outside if needed.
- Repair any cracks in the driveway and walkway and also power wash steps and railings if necessary.
- Look at the outdoor lighting. Is it time to repair or replace?
- Add welcoming touches to the front door including seasonal plants and a fresh welcome mat.
- Ensure that you have a prominent, working doorbell and that the front door is freshly painted.
2. Declutter and neutralize.
Removing the carpet to reveal hardwood floors, adding a coat of neutral paint, and updating lighting, window treatments and accessories gives a fresh, bright and updated look to the room.
Look at each room objectively and start packing.
- Remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing your property, including personal collections (yes, that sports memorabilia room has to go!), a wall of family photos, newspapers, books and magazines, etc.
- Consider donating outdated furniture and household accessories to a local nonprofit.
3. Refresh walls, rugs and windows treatments. When was the last time your seller painted? Are their imperfections or scratches on the walls? Is the current paint color dated? If so, consider adding a fresh coat of neutral paint. The same applies to area rugs and carpeting. Be sure to have them professionally cleaned and, if dated, consider replacing. If you have hardwood floors under the carpeting, you’ll find it worthwhile to remove and refinish the floors so you can then use the hardwoods as a selling-point. As for window treatments, replace any outdated or specific styles. Or if you have great windows -- make sure they stand out by removing all of the window treatments.
4. Brighten and add warmth.
Stagers made this bathroom sparkle from ceiling to floor by adding updated light fixtures with bright, cheerful accessories.
It’s important that the home feels light and bright. Open the curtains wide (or replace as indicated above) and let in as much natural light as possible. Also, replace any light fixtures that are outdated and make sure all existing lights are working.
5. Make it shine. Clean, dust, vacuum, and deodorize. Think: aggressive spring cleaning!
We often suggest to our clients that they have a professional service clean the property from top to bottom -- including the walls, ceilings, and baseboards. Dirt eats equity. The more your home shines, the better for prospective buyers. Windows and mirrors should be free of fingerprints, and hardwood floors should shine.
Scrub bathrooms and kitchens so they sparkle. Don’t forget to dust lampshades and curtains too.
Top 5 Don’ts in Home Staging
1. Don’t be emotionally attached. As soon as your sellers make the commitment to sell, they need to look at their end goal. Are they downsizing, moving to be near family, or a warmer climate? It's important for them to emotionally detach from selling their home. Any negative remarks you gather as their real estate professional from home buyers, the sellers need to be able to use as constructive criticism and be willing to do what it takes to get their “product” sold timely and for top dollar.
2. Don’t be afraid to team up. Selling a home can be overwhelming. Just packing and decluttering is a monumental task and that is why using a professional home stager is an investment in getting your property sold. A professional stager (not a decorator) is an expert who can look at the home objectively and provide proven methods to help enhance your clients’ home showings.
3. Don’t leave anything broken. Everything should function properly and be in working order. Sellers need to make sure they repair leaky faucets, cracked windows, loose doorknobs, broken tile, as well as replace any light bulbs that don’t work.
4. Don’t invest in major renovations.
Updated dark wood cabinets with white paint is a simple solution to giving a kitchen a more modern appeal.
Now is not the time to gut the kitchen with a complete makeover. Keep it to the essentials in giving the home a basic cosmetic fix. Painting goes a long way in providing a modern "facelift" to a home, from the kitchen cabinets to the bathroom vanities. Update a home by adding new flooring, if needed, a new bathroom vanity and light fixture, and making any necessary repairs -- those projects can be worth the investment to get the house sold.
5. Don’t buy all new furniture. Rearrange and put away excessive pieces to simplify and make the room appear larger. Update or hide imperfections in the sellers' furniture with new throws and pillows. However, if your sellers are already planning to purchase updated furniture for their new home, they may want to consider buying sooner for selling purposes too.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.