Yikes! You have a month to prepare your home for sale, a limited budget and very little free time. How do you invest your time, effort and money to stage your home so that it will sell quickly at the best possible price? Follow these tips to reap the best return on your efforts.
Give buyers what they want
Potential buyers are looking for a spacious, light-filled and well-maintained home that is ready to move into. They want uncluttered, clean and tidy rooms in which they can visualize their furnishings, and an exterior with curb appeal. Give them what they want! Concentrate your staging efforts on:
• Improving your home's presentation to the street.
• Creating a spacious, uncluttered look in every room.
• Bringing in light.
• Making repairs that reassure buyers the house has been well-maintained over many years.
• Neutralizing finishes so that the new homeowner can move in right away.
Make sure your house numbers are easy to read and that your mailbox is in good shape. If you need to repaint your home, paint the body of the house in a light beige, khaki or gray, and then paint the trim in white with the front door and shutters in a coordinating color, such as hunter green, navy blue or black. If your home's neutral-colored paint is in good shape but the trim is an unusual color, simply paint the trim in white and repaint the front door. Power wash a dusty house to make it look freshly painted.
Give your front yard a manicured look: fertilize and edge your lawn, thoroughly weed, and trim any dead or misshapen plants. Provide easy passage to the front door by trimming low-hanging branches or overgrown hedges. Cover planting beds in fine tan bark and plant oodles of colorful flowers. Move any trailers, boats, cars or trash cans from the driveway so the buyers can see the home and not your toys. Take care of repairs; fix that leaning fence or broken pane of glass, and replace missing shingles.
Make your front entry inviting by purchasing a new welcome mat, adding a brass kick plate to the bottom of your door and replacing a dated light fixture. Remove your screen door and store it in your garage. Remove tired garden furniture and scraggy potted plants, and replace with a few clay pots brimming with fresh, blooming plants. Place only high quality wood or wrought iron furniture on your porch no plastic or aluminum.
Most Realtors will encourage you to repaint your home's interior and refinish your hardwood floors (or re-carpet in a light beige) so your home's interior appears bright and spacious. This can be expensive, but you'll get a very good return on your dollar.
Your entry will seem larger if you remove the area rug and any furniture that crowds the space. Add light by replacing art with a mirror and by using the maximum wattage in the light fixture.
Arrange your living and family room furniture so that it invites visitors into the space, rather than blocking them. Keep the window coverings open and lights on. Remove excess furniture, and declutter every surface. Visitors may not enjoy viewing religious items, sexy artwork, guns, animal skins or an over-abundance of family photos, so it's best to pack them away. Add a few nice touches: place several logs in the fireplace, and position healthy potted plants or fresh flowers here and there.
Increase space in your dining room by removing a leaf from the table and storing several chairs. Don't use a table cloth or set the table, simply place a live plant or bouquet of flowers, flanked by a pair of candlesticks, on the table.
Brighten your kitchen by painting outdated cabinets and adding new hardware. Remove appliances and clutter from the countertops, and display several decorative items instead. Remove all refrigerator magnets and items stored on top of the fridge. Clean every surface until it shines.
Your bathrooms should also be squeaky clean. Remove tired window coverings to let light in. Increase space by removing floor mats, decluttering the vanity top and keeping the shower curtain or door open. Store all hygiene items, and remove the trash can. Invest in new towels which coordinate with the tile color. Add a plant or dish of potpourri on the vanity.
Remove furniture that crowds your bedrooms. Declutter all surfaces, and remove any art which is tacked or taped to the walls. A new bedspread and colorful pillows can add a fresh look.
For additional help, check out books in the library on selling your own home and copy their preparation checklists. Or ask your real estate agent to walk through your home to give you room-by-room suggestions. Or hire a staging specialist to get the honest feedback you need. Everything you do to prepare your home for sale is money in your pocket!