Regardless of whether it’s a buyer or seller market, when someone puts their house on the market, they want it to be in tip-top shape and poised to present the best image to potential buyers. Many of today’s home owners are hiring stagers to help them get their homes into shape before placing them on the market. But, it’s possible to do some staging on your own. What does it take to stand out and drive sales? Here, five residential realtors share their top tips.
Appeal to the Five Senses
People innately experience the world in five ways, says Anthony Askowitz with RE/MAX Advance Realty II in Miami—through the five senses. He touches on each as he shares some tips to help home sellers appeal to potential home buyers:
- Touch: Have the seller step out of the house during a showing, and let buyers feel first-hand what materials make up their future home. Let the buyer touch the kitchen cabinets, carpets, etc., to help them experience the unique features of the home.
- Taste: Offer cookies, a bowl of candy or chocolates. Bottles of flavored water are an excellent choice, especially on a hot day.
- Smell: Place plug-ins or diffusers throughout the house. Clean and/or remove anything that may cause odor such as smelly trash litter boxes to prevent buyer turnoff. Baking cookies is a way to attract potential buyers into the kitchen.
- Sight: Turn on all the lights, open all the blinds—keep it light and bright. Set the dining room table. Do some light staging such as red towels in a white bathroom, re-painting the front door and some minor landscape. Staging is one of the most important steps in the selling process and it can make a great first impression.
- Sound: Play soft music and remove loud distracting noise from the home. Turn off the television and ensure there are no loud children or pets to deter potential buyers.
Rather than using plug-ins which, she says, “make buyers think you are hiding something,” Kerri Jonikas, a broker/realtor with HomeSmart Realty Group suggests taking the natural scent route. “A fresh bowl of lemons on the table or cookies baking in the oven provide enough for the senses for buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your home instead of thinking you are trying to cover something up.”
Cut the Clutter
“Look at pictures of lovely homes in magazine ads,” Bill Golden suggests. Golden is an independent real estate agent with RE/MAX Metro Atlanta Cityside and has been a realtor for more than 30 years. “You’ll see they have fewer items. Less clutter. More consistency and flow.” These, he says, should be a home seller’s goals.
Janis Benstock, with Settle Down Philadelphia, agrees that decluttering is an important step in getting a home ready for sale. “Pay special attention to anything personal, like family photos and diplomas,” she recommends. “They distract buyers from looking at the house and make it harder for them to envision it as a place they can make their own.”
Golden recommends that if the home seller doesn’t typically enter through the front door, that they take this simple step. “You’ll begin noticing a paver that’s out of place, cobwebs, and other signs that might unwittingly signal potential buyers that your home is not ready and maybe not well maintained.” Once inside, you may notice other things you’re not used to experiencing, he says.
Think about traffic flow and go overboard here, Golden recommends. “Imagine when you are staging or getting your home ready for sale that you are having many, many guests in your home at one time. You’ll begin to open things up, remove obstacles and make your home feel bigger,” he says. “If potential buyers have to navigate around large furniture, take care to not tip over a big accessory or small table, or if they have to zigzag through odd furniture placement, they’ll begin getting a negative impression of your home.”
Benstock suggests decluttering first to make cleaning easier. “Less stuff equals less mess,” she says. “Don’t be fooled thinking that buyers can see beyond the mess. They can’t.”
Painting and refreshing both inside and out are important to getting a home ready for sale, says Rochelle Maize, executive director of the luxury estate division at Nourmand & Associates. But keep it monochromatic, she advises. “Monochromatic colors are in—off white, light greys, etc.” These, she says, give a “clean slate feeling and are more appealing to the eye.” Maize recommends “neutralizing everything” to appeal to the biggest buyer pool possible.
Don’t Overlook Curb Appeal
It’s not only the inside of your home that matters to potential buyers. In fact, their first impressions will be based on what they see outside your house as they drive up to take a look.
“It doesn’t matter how gorgeous the inside is if you can’t get them in the front door,” says Golden. You don’t have to spend a lot of money here, he says, but you should consider the following:
- The paint job. “If you have faded or peeling paint, it’s essential to get it freshened up,” Golden says. “Sometimes just a striking fresh paint color on the front door can make all the difference.”
- Landscaping. “This is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to increase your curb appeal,” Golden says. “Make sure all shrubs and bushes are trimmed back and not blocking the windows. Fresh mulch in the beds goes a long way to cleaning up your look. Seasonal flowers are great, but unless you’ll be there to keep them watered and maintained, use them sparingly.”
- The lawn. “Grass should always be kept mowed and edged properly,” Golden advises. “Overgrown shrubs should be trimmed, especially if they block the home.” And, he adds: “This will not only help curb appeal, but increase light in the home.”
- Roof mand gutters. “Look up! When making landscape areas leaf- and debris-free, start at the top,” Golden suggests. “Clean the roof and gutters, as needed, then start on the areas below them.”
- Pressure washing. Take the time to pressure wash all concrete surfaces—like driveways, walkways, and decks. It will be worth the effort.
Curb appeal is an essential element to a home sale. Don’t miss this important part of the staging process.
Getting your home in shape doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Some attention to detail and consideration about what will appeal to today’s home buyers can help ensure you create a setting where they can see themselves moving in—soon!