Begin With the Outside of Your Home
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Start with the view from the street to the front door. If your mailbox shows its age, paint it or replace it. If your home is painted, a good rule of thumb is that if it has been more than 5 years since it was painted, it probably needs to be painted again. Pressure wash the curb, driveway, and sidewalk. Make sure your lawn is manicured, your plants look fresh and inviting and you have new mulch or pine straw where appropriate. Finally, consider your front door itself. Make sure the paint is fresh, the locks work easily and the door opens without any use of force. A nice touch prior to your home being shown to clients is to spray a fine mist of water over the yard to give it a nice shine. This looks especially warm and inviting around dusk.
Lighting is the First Impression on the Inside
Brighter is better when it comes to the inside of your home so make sure all lights are operational with the highest wattage bulb allowed for each fixture. Warmer tones should only be used for accent lights to help add character, elicit an emotional response, and develop depth in a room. Yellow lights can make a room look dingy and dull the colors on walls. Make sure that the color temperature of your light bulbs is consistent. A room that has multiple color temperature lightbulbs can be confusing to the eye. Also, make sure to open all blinds and window treatments and if possible, even removing the screens from your windows can help to add more light to the home.
Remove unnecessary items from tables, mantles, floors, and counters. Items in these areas tend to shrink the feel of the house. Personal items should be removed wherever possible. Your goal is to sell your home so keep your buyers focus on the house, not on you, your family, or photos from your vacations. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than three items on a table.
Clean Everything – Remove Bad Odors
Buyers do not want to know that you actually live there. Clean the baseboards, windows, cabinets, ceiling fans, mantles, sinks, door handles, shelves, vacuum all carpets, and treat stains, thoroughly. Clean hardwood floors, organize the laundry room, and pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. Dirt and grime can make a buyer feel that a home has not been cared for and will frequently result in no offer or an offer that is lower than you might have otherwise received. It also puts up their radar and makes them wonder if regular repair and maintenance items have been properly attended to if they see a messy home.
Garage and Basement
Remember what the intended uses of these spaces are. Your garage is a place to keep your car out of the weather and offers a second entrance into and out of your home. Place items of storage in organized boxes in your basement and give the impression to the buyer that you are ready to move.
Organize Your Closets
Buyers like to peek into closets to see if there is adequate storage for their possessions. Maximize the appearance of space by minimizing the number of items in your closets. Ensure that all items are folded properly and organized. A stuffed closet means the home lacks adequate storage.
Tidy up the Bedrooms
The impression your bedroom should have on a buyer needs to be about the room - not you. To that end, your bed should be made, clothes, shoes, and dirty laundry should be out of sight. This is the one place in the house where softer lighting is appropriate.
Paint Wherever Necessary
Do not skip this step. With paint, you have a chance to freshen up walls that will add new life to your home. The entrance, heavily trafficked areas, doors, bathrooms, and kitchens are the most common areas that will need a fresh coat of paint. Dollar for dollar, it's difficult to invest money in a better place than paint.
Light Fixtures, Faucets, and Door Hardware
Think of these items as the jewelry inside your home. These items must be in keeping with today’s style and the overall architectural feel of your home. This is another area that you should not overlook. You can be sure that your buyers will notice outdated items as soon as they see them. Replace all outdated fixtures or reduce your price.
A Professional Knows Best!
By no means is this a comprehensive list of what needs to be done to properly stage a home and prepare it for sale. As always, a trained professional will need to see your home, your furniture, your decor, your paint colors, and the overall appearance of your home to prioritize and determine what needs to be addressed so you can sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time.
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