Selling Your Home – Part 1
Don’t get caught off-guard when selling your home
Have you ever had unexpected guests, and scrambled to tidy up the house before answering the door?
Far too often this seems to be the strategy used by home sellers. It is of course impossible to get your home ready in just a few minutes, so it is crucial that you put your best foot forward when listing your home.
At The Stanley Team, our objective is not just to sell your house, but to help you gain the best price possible – in the shortest period of time. In order to support you in this endeavor, we have designed a three-part blog series of tips and suggestions for enhancing your home to attract the best possible price.
We have all heard the adage that you have just one chance to make a first impression. This is never truer than when a prospective buyer enters your home. Prospective buyers are trying to place themselves in your home with the goal of seeing if they too feel at home. Floor layouts and even size of the home can have less impact on a prospective buyer’s vibe about a property than how a home presents itself on the outside and inside.
Prepare your home for listing – Part 1
Inside the home
Attempt to de-personalize your home first. As discussed above, buyers first try to see how they might fit into your home, so overly personalized environments tend to have the opposite affect than intended. Neutral environments, on the other hand, get the buyers thinking about how they might enhance the atmosphere, and how they might personalize it themselves in order to make it feel homier. While it is true that you typically need to live in your home, the end goal is to make your home as close to that of a model home as possible.
In some instances, removing items from your home (and placing the items in temporary storage), can enhance the space dramatically. This not only opens up the space but gives the strategic opportunity to remove such items as unusual art or furnishings, strong religious or political statements, overly large furniture, and excess kitchen appliances.
Focus on the following areas of the home:
The entryway to your home is the absolute first impression. You have the opportunity to make a big statement in what is typically a small area. This can be accomplished in the following ways:
- Paint – repaint the entry in light neutral colors
- Furnishings – place an attractive piece of furniture, or a prized piece of art where it can have immediate impact
- Rugs – place a nice area rug in the entry way if you have wood floors, and wax the floors or consider a fresh coat of polyurethane to liven up the wood
- Lighting – be sure the area is well lit, and if room affords, add a nice light fixture to the area to add character
The living room is a major selling point for a home. While not often used, the living room is one of the primary spaces where prospective buyers envision socializing with family and friends (along with the kitchen). For this reason, elegance is more important than comfort. This is the room that you (and they) wish to stand out. The following suggestions can help you accomplish this goal:
- Fireplace – if you do not have a fireplace, we are not suggesting your install one, but if you do have one, we very much encourage you to be sure the fireplace is clean, the screen is in good shape, and the fireplace is a focal point of the room. In the winter, having a fire going for the cozy feeling is a plus. In the summer, adding fresh indoor plants or cut flowers can enhance the space.
- Lighting – adding freestanding lighting for visual effect can create the right mood. If you are showing in the evening, lighting that casts shadows can enhance the room, if in the day, the freestanding lighting fixtures add depth
- Flooring – if the living room is carpeted, be sure the carpets are professionally cleaned and free of stains and odors. If the floor is hardwood, be sure the wood is in good condition, freshly waxed and clean. If hardwoods are not is good condition, consider sanding and refinishing the floors
- Window Treatments – while windows may often have blinds, the addition of drapes and holdbacks can add a level of sophistication
- Flowers – the addition of flowers can add a brilliant accent, as well as mask any lingering odors
The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in the house, and can have a major impact on the value of a home. If your kitchen needs considerable help, it is often beneficial to invest the most in this room to bring it more up-to-date. Depending on the other homes in the specific market, some upgrades may be in order (such as cabinets, countertops, and appliances). Our goal is of course is to keep costs to a minimum, so focusing on e few minor updates can often accomplish the desired effect. Consider the following:
- Lighting – consider updating old fixtures with new lighting fixtures, such as track lighting. Lighting can brighten up the room, as well spotlight specific elements of a room
- Cabinets – update the hardware and knobs on your cabinets to give a fresh look. This is a very small investment that can reap very large reward. If they are particularly worn, replacing the cabinet doors will provide a dramatic update to a kitchen, still at a very low cost in comparison to an overhaul of the space
- Appliances – short of updating appliance with new stainless steel or other popular materials, you may consider having your appliances refinished to a new color such as black or white. This can be done at a fraction of the cost of new appliances
- Flooring – if you have hardwood floors, be sure the finish is in top condition. Consider refinishing the flooring if needed. If you have tile floors, be sure to clean and freshen up the flooring.
- Overall look – make sure the kitchen is as spotless as possible, and smells fresh. Consider a burning candle, a vase of flowers, and grind a few ice cubes and a slice of lemon in the disposal to clean and freshen the sink
The bathroom can be a major selling feature of a home, or can be purely utilitarian. If you have a small bathroom, be sure to pay particular attention to minimizing clutter. If you have a large, updated bathroom, be sure to highlight the fact with strategically placed accents. Consider the following:
- Lighting – as with every room, consider replacing older looking fixtures with new up-to-date style and finish. Be sure all bulbs are working, and are of the same size and wattage
- Toilet – replace an old and worn seat with a new one. Be sure no slow leaking of the toilet exists, and this speaks to the overall maintenance of the home
- Flowers – place a vase of fresh or dried flowers on the vanity to add color and a fresh aroma
- Candles – if you have a large bathroom, place large scented candles along the edge of the bathtub. This will add a nice visual touch, as well as a subtle clean scent
- Bathtub – if you have an older porcelain tub, consider using a porcelain finishing service
- Finishing Touches – add richness and color to the bathroom by updating towels, floor mats and rugs. Add a small basket with rolled up hand-towels, and a bowl with assorted soaps for accent
Bedrooms can do much to help sell a home; and equally as much to dissuade a prospective buyer. The size and layout of your bedroom is fixed, however the placement and choice of furniture can dramatically impact the feel of the room. Most prospective buyers are looking for comfortable, clean spaces, where they would feel comfortable settling in for the night. Consider the following:
- Closets – organize your closets to increase the perception of size. Remove last season’s clothes (perfect to move to the storage space you may have moved a few pieces of furniture). Adding inexpensive closet organizers can go a long way to providing a tidy space. Add cedar blocks in a few strategic places to add a nice aroma
- Bed – add a few new pillows to the bed, and be sure to have a fresh spread, quilt or duvet
- Lighting – bedrooms should be well lit, but not overly bright. Think relaxing. The addition of one to two lamps on a dresser or nightstand can add a great accent to the room
- Windows – perhaps as important as the living room, curtains are a critical component to a comfortable relaxing space. Even if you have nice shades, add additional accent with a nice set of curtains, and consider nice tie-backs and valance
- Electronics – while many people have added an assortment of electronics to their bedroom, these can unfortunately detract from the feeling of a comfortable space. Where possible, minimize electronics, or house them in appropriate fixtures and/or television stands
- Overall – make sure the bedroom is spotless. Rugs and flooring should be clean, windows should be washed inside and out, and the room should smell fresh. The addition of flowers or dried flowers adds a nice visual touch, as well as provides a clean fresh scent to the room
As you can see, there are some consistent themes throughout the house. Clean, fresh and uncluttered applies to virtually the entire home, while lighting, window treatments, and updated fixtures apply more to some rooms than others. Keep in mind that a prospective buyer is looking first to see if they feel comfortable in a home, and second to how they might update the space to make it their own. As you have no idea what the prospective buyers taste levels are, you are best served by minimizing those things that make bold statements and that over-personalize your living space.
We will discuss enhancements to the outside of your home in part 2 of this series, and then finishing touches in part 3.