Spring is knocking on the door, and with it comes the start of the real estate market boom: If you want to sell your house quickly and for top dollar, a coat of paint and a good cleaning simply aren’t enough nowadays to make that buyer jump. To inspire a buyer to choose your home over the next, you’ve got to impress them. Presentation is everything.
The key here is to feature the bones of the house and what it has to offer potential buyers, not the family trip to Disney. It may seem a little extreme, but the bottom line is you want buyers to fantasize themselves here, not feel as though they're intruding on your personal space. Remove trophies, children’s artwork, collections, religious artifacts, and family pictures — allowing the house to simply breathe is affording your buyer the opportunity to envision themselves living there.
Here's a little secret: the reason great hotel design works is that it appeals to a wide set of tastes: so too should your décor. Bold red and gold walls may be great for you, but could turn off a potential buyer. Stick to simple and light earth tones, and go easy on the accents. A little pop of fresh colour here and there can be inspiring, but remember the old adage of less is more... it won't fail you here.
Whether done by professionals or yourself, nothing — not even fresh paint — will give you a higher return on your investment than a good top-to-bottom cleaning. This goes far beyond a thorough dusting and vacuuming: wash windows inside and out, wash cupboard doors front and back, get your floors gleaming, and have furniture and carpets cleaned. When it gets warmer outside, power wash the exterior of your home; don't forget the all-important element of curb appeal!
Especially if you’ve lived there a long time, it’s hard, but crucial to let go and think of your house objectively as a product on a shelf. Everyone thinks their home is unique, special, and likely one-of-a-kind in some way or another — you want to showcase the home in the best light possible, just not with personal perception.
After taking out personal mementos and family items, remove over-flow furniture and accessories; rooms that are pared down feel bigger, and also allow the buyer to imagine their furniture in the space. It's true that over 85 per cent of homebuyers can't see past initial impressions, meaning homes filled with knick knacks, too much furniture, and even heavy drapery will stop a buyer from mentally envisioning what 'could be', leaving them to get caught up with 'what is'. Spaces should feel delicately lived in, but not bare — homes that have zero furniture or décor in them rarely show well in comparison: have just enough gracing your spaces to show buyers the home is livable and comfy.
ON THE BIG DAY
On the days of your open houses, bring in fresh flowers, light a scented — but not over fragrant — candle, and even put a bowl of vibrant lemons or limes out on the kitchen counter. Turn on all the lights — even if it's sunny out, and make sure all doors in the home, even the bathroom door, are open. And of most importantly, tidy up. Shampoo bottles out of sight, beds made, laundry put away, counters clean, dishwasher emptied, toilet lids down... all evidence of your family's recent occupation should be on the down-low, giving your home the best chance of selling quickly, and selling for top price!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 23, 2013