DEAR GAIL: We’re getting ready to list our house and were wondering with the market being on an upturn if we should stage it? And if so, what we should do?— Monique
DEAR MONIQUE: It’s great that we have seen an upturn in the market, but there is still a lot of competition out there. In my opinion, making the best first impression is the most critical thing you can do when selling. It’s true that you never get a second chance to make a good impression so make sure you put your best foot forward. You want your house to sell quickly but also for the highest price and staging will help do that. It’s important that you stand out, in a good way, from the other properties listed.
First, you need to look at your home through “buyer’s eyes.” Look at your home as if it is one of the homes you looked at while searching for your new home. Be honest with yourself and if you can’t be critical, ask someone else to do it for you.
Second, focus on curb appeal. With a clipboard, paper and pencil in hand, stand at the street and start looking. What is your first impression? Is it welcoming, attractive, well maintained? Is the yard mowed and trimmed? Are all of the toys, sports equipment and garbage pails put away and out of sight? Ask yourself an important question, “Would you buy this home?”
Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door. Keep the walk and porch swept and clean. After dark, turn on all of your exterior lighting. Make sure the doorbell is in working order. Place fresh potted flowers and a new doormat at the front door. And please remove anything that has your name on it, especially your favorite doormat that says, “Welcome to the Smiths.”
Third, do an interior evaluation. Again with pen and paper in hand, walk through each room and note anything that needs repair, picked up or to be removed. First impressions don’t end at the front door, but continue through each room you enter, corner you turn or closet you open. Make any necessary repairs or touch-ups; do not let your buyers wonder if there are things unseen they should worry about.
Fourth, consider clutter control and cleanliness. The cleanliness of your home is going to be the first thing a buyer notices when he or she enters and then how much clutter is around your house. When selling a home, it is on display so less is better than more. Clutter not only involves keeping your rooms picked up, but also removing items so that the wonderful architectural features of your home can be seen. Uncluttering your home will make it feel more spacious along with having a well-maintained look. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is important to remember at this time.
You never want to have any buyer question if a home has been properly maintained. If a home is neat and tidy, buyers will assume that it has been properly maintained during the years. If it is cluttered and messy, they will wonder what else hasn’t been taken care of. Plus, it is easier to keep up when there is less to pick up and clean.
Fifth, look at your closets. Take a day and get in those hall and bedroom closets and clean them out. Unfortunately, we live in the part of the country where storage is a problem in every home. We don’t have the luxury of basements and attics to store things in. So one of the things that most homeowners look for is how much storage space the house has. So clear the closets by half and pack away last season’s clothes, box what you’re not wearing and donate what you no longer need. You want to give the impression that you have plenty of storage and cabinet space in the house. If your cabinets and closets are overflowing, you are telling them that they won’t have enough storage space in the house. Plus, most of us have more than we need or wear so now is a good time to go through your things. I read once that those of us with packed closets, actually only wear 20 percent of what’s hanging.
Sixth, eliminate distractions and personal items. Allow your buyer to focus on the home. It is important to remove anything that may leave a negative impression. You want them to envision themselves in the home, not you, which is difficult to do when your pictures, trophies and name are displayed.
Remove any sensitive items that may offend another as well as personal items from bedrooms and bathrooms to increase the comfort of the buyers entering the rooms. Also, please do not have a toilet brush or plunger visible anywhere in the bathroom.
Seventh, bring out the best of your home. Think of what caught your attention that made you buy. Does the house have a fabulous fireplace, a large yard, a great open and flowing floor plan or a wonderful kitchen? Does it have unique architectural features, columns, windows or vaulted ceilings? Remove any furnishings that are blocking a direct view to those wonderful features. If you have beautiful wood floors, remove the area rugs and show off the floor.
Lastly, set the stage. Just as you would use props when setting the stage for a play, do the same in your home, especially for an open house. Make them say, “I would love to sit and read here,” or “I’ve always wanted to relax in a bubble bath with candles and music,” or “Wow, what a great yard, we can finally have the gang over for a barbecue.” Think of how you feel when you walk into a model home. That’s what you want your potential buyers to feel.
Staging your home will take some elbow grease and a little time, but is well worth it to get the highest selling price in the quickest time.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to: email@example.com. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.