Is Your House Sale Ready?
Once you've decided to move forward with putting your house on the market, you may want to think about working with an experienced stager to make sure your home looks as attractive to potential buyers as possible. If I'm your Realtor, you're good, I already provide this service. Your home's greatest exposure is on the internet, in the MLS listing, which is where 95% of homebuyers start their shopping process. It's important that you have best foot forward in those online photos but also for any showings or open houses you may have.
The tips below will get you in the right mindset which can be summarized by turning your perspective to those of the buyer. What you think about your house should be put on the back burner, and every decision should be made with how a buyer would see it.
Room to Move
Make sure you don't have too much furniture in your home. In a living room, the furniture should face a focal point, typically an entertainment center or fireplace and you want to be able to walk around the furniture to get easily around the space. If you have a king size bed in a secondary bedroom, it may be a better idea to remove the bed entirely, or consider swapping with a twin bed. If the furniture fills up the majority of the room, you're making the room feel smaller. Pretend you've never been in your home, or ask a friend to come over, and make sure you can easily move around all rooms and halls.
Neutral is really best and here's why. If you love your purple bathroom, that's great, but what a buyer sees is that he's going to need to paint a bathroom.
The more to-dos a buyer adds to his list is directly but inversely proportionate to his likeliness to make an offer on your home. Now, that doesn't mean go paint your whole house white, but it would be a good idea to tone down the colors. Lighter shades are less likely to cause issues than bold colors. I recommend ceilings stay white as a general rule, but there are always exceptions. Accent walls are less popular these days, but I'd take it on a case by case basis. I can think of three nursery accent walls of friends of mine that are so adorable I'd leave them for showing, but you could offer a voucher for wallpaper to be removed and painted for the new buyer. In the photo to the right, I love the color green so this room works for me, but is likely too bold if you're wanting to sell quickly.
Keep it Simple Silly. This is just a nicer way to tell you to declutter which I really can't say enough. Your house should kind of look like no one lives there. Your kitchen counters might still have a paper towel holder and coffee maker but shouldn't have the canister of protein powder out. If you're living in your home while you're on the market, go ahead and get your head around that you'll put some stuff away every day instead of leaving it out. Does it have to be perfect? No! And there are probably a fair amount of spaces in your house that you don't actually touch every day, so get those in great shape, and then just keep an eye on the areas you use more often so they're tidy.
In my opinion, light levels are one of the biggest assets or detractors to a space. Fortunately, most homes are shown during the day with plenty of sunlight. Walk your space and notice if the rooms are dark. If so, add some lighting. Once again, if a buyer is walking through and a room feels dark, they start thinking about the expense of adding a can light or four and suddenly are less excited about your home.
Of course you can bring in an electrician and add some hard wired lighting, but often a lamp or two, or some well placed accent lighting will do the trick. In the photo above, this particular room scene added a solar tube in the ceiling, but you can see how the brighter room feels more welcoming.
Weight & Height
When I say weight and height, what I mean is to consider your unique space and how the furniture you have fits it. When you are living in the space, it doesn't matter how things fit, but once you're ready to list, you need to be aware of how your furniture helps or hurts the way the house comes across to a buyer. If something is way too small or way too large, you are distracting from the home itself, which is what we want the buyer to focus on.
This photo screams that this bedroom does not have enough storage when in reality, it's a pretty big space. The other thing this picture does is illustrate the concept of weight in a room. Here, the right side is very heavy with the tall pieces of furniture and piles of clothes. The left side is very light with a slim headboard and low sofa. You should try to have a balanced room, where the weight isn't predominant on one side or the other. Side note here, since I have the picture to prove my point...don't store stuff like towels, sheets, and clothes out in the open. In this photo, if there's truly no other choice, bins or tubs would look less distracting than loose as shown, but a better option would be to pack some of the items up and put them in the garage.
Let's talk safety first. When you list your home and it goes on the market, people you don't know will be walking into your house. They will be accompanied by an agent of course, but strangers will see your personal belongings. Keep that in mind that they see your details, like where you go on vacation, what schools your kids go to, and their names. If you don't want them to see that type of information, remove those things from plain sight.
But more practically, when buyers walk through your home you need them to picture themselves living there, which is hard to do when your ten foot long row of little Joey's school pictures follows them down the hall. I'm sure Joey is a great kid, but they don't know him, so there's no emotional connection there. Go ahead and get a head start on moving by boxing up family photos, photo albums, graduation caps, and anything that's special only to you.
Clean, clean, clean, like you've never cleaned before. Consider hiring a professional, a good one. Insides of drawers and cabinets should be cleaned, clean the inside of your refrigerator, even if it isn't included in the sale, use a Magic Eraser and wipe down scuff marks (gently) on your walls, wipe down the face plates where the kids got it sticky from turning off the light with jelly on their hands. If your pantry shelves are showing wear
from you dragging soup cans across the wood, paint them for a fresh look. Buyers are going to look everywhere because it's a big purchase, but especially under the sink and all those places you think no one will look. Here's the big thing to remember, buyers equate the cleanliness and order of your home with how well you've taken care of it. Spend the time to do it right.
If you have any questions, or need help getting your home ready for sale, drop me a line!
Rebecca is a Realtor in Houston, TX who feels strongly that a well staged house that is photographed correctly is the key to getting the best offer in the least amount of time. If you're someone who would really like to get top dollar for your home, she should be your first call. Here, I'll give you her number, its 281.782.6229.