If you’ve ever prepped a house to put on the market, you know it’s no easy task. We want potential buyers to fully appreciate the beauty, size, capacity and function of our home so that we can attract top dollar. Yet it’s common to have an emotional attachment to our house and its contents, and as a result we sometimes fail to get things into a condition that pleases the majority. This can be a costly mistake. Our aim is to make prospective buyers feel at home the minute they set foot in the door.
Having worked with many clients to prepare their homes for sale, I’m going to give you my top ten tips to attract the right buyers to your home and then get them to fall completely in love with it.
Tip One: Maximize views and light.
It is well known that potential buyers are attracted to properties with good light. No one wants to buy a home that feels dark and dingy. Open all shutters and wash all windows within an inch of their lives. Take down dated drapes and blinds to let light in and show off the scenery outside. I’ve learned that window coverings are actually quite a personal choice, so buyers are likely to change whatever you have there anyway.
Tip Two: Think light, white and bright.
Give all internal walls and ceilings a fresh coat of white paint (my favorite is Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White). This will give buyers the sense of the home being a clean, blank space where they can build their new life. Everything will feel cleaner, brighter and bigger. Change the lampshades to white, update old light fixtures, and replace all lights with new increased-wattage bulbs. Focus on making your house bright and cheery.
Tip Three: Don’t be afraid to bring in the pros.
Seriously consider engaging a staging company. They have tried-and-true formulas for achieving great results. More often than not, a professionally staged home sells faster and for more money, which justifies the up-front expense. Staging experts know what most buyers are looking for, and they use logic to draw attention to the best features of your home. They can help organize cleaning, repairs, painting and landscaping to get your house looking its absolute best. Finally, their professional photos of your newly styled home will undoubtedly attract additional traffic to your listing. If, however, you’re on a strict budget, read on for tips and tricks that you can do yourself.
Tip Four: Tame that bush.
Consider pruning trees or shrubs that are obstructing views or sunlight—unless you live in a hot area where tree shade is an attribute. Maintain the garden and lawn, getting rid of any dead trees or shrubs and replacing them with flowering plants. Furnish outdoor spaces as well: balconies, decks and the garden. By giving buyers a sense of the outdoor “extra room,” you help them imagine the way of life at your home and how they will adapt to it.
Tip Five: Make those repairs.
You want the buyer’s eye to be on the advantages of your home, not the things that are broken. Fill cracks and nail holes in the walls and replace any chipped or broken tiles, pavers or brickwork. You’ve got a leaky faucet? Fix it, along with any doors, drawers or cupboards that don’t close properly. Repaint peeling paint, and make certain there are no signs of water damage, mold or mildew.
Tip Six: One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
You may think your taste in furnishings is magnificent, but your collection of snow globes, religious objects and political paraphernalia may not be your buyer’s idea of good taste. Instead, you need to be a crowd-pleaser. The style of furnishings should complement the architectural style of the home. Go for neutral, light-colored furnishings, rugs and bedspreads. If you don’t want to move your furniture out yet, think about getting some inexpensive white slipcovers. Save the splashes of color & loud prints just for the accessories. Another thing to consider is that you need to use each room for a single purpose. That is, your office should not share space with your dining room table. Finally, arrange rooms so that there is an easy flow of traffic throughout.
Tip Seven: Space Sells.
Storage is a huge consideration for buyers. I always suggest removing as much from your main cupboards as possible, and neatly arranging what’s left. Remove at least sixty percent of your clothing from the closets to give the impression that there is more than enough storage. Make sure closets are finished cleanly; painting them is a good move. Clear out the garage and park only the number of cars for which it was originally designed.
Tip Eight: The kitchen is king.
To attract top dollar, focus on the kitchen. Chances are, whatever you spend on renovations to your kitchen, you will make back at auction. If it’s out-of-date, I highly recommend replacing your countertops with a durable white marble or light-colored Caesar stone. Install white or light grey cupboard fronts with concealed finger pull drawers. Install a new sink and kitchen tap. This can cost up to a few thousand dollars but it’ll be worth it. At the very least, paint the cabinets and re-line shelves. Switch out cabinet hardware and invest in a rug for the floor if the tile or linoleum is less than attractive. And by the way, if the kitchen is king, the bathroom is prince. Give the bathroom vanity and cupboards the same careful attention.
Tip Nine: First impressions matter.
How you arrange the entry of your home can make all the difference to a buyer. Try simple tricks like a new doormat or updated exterior light fixtures. Your front door should be freshly painted and the hardware should all be the same color. Make sure your house number is clearly visible. Add flowers or shrubs along the entry footpath. For extra points, think about adding low-cost external spike lighting in the front garden to accentuate landscaping. Your attention to detail here will signal to the buyer that all other details have been taken care of too.
Tip Ten: De-clutter, accessorize and make the final sweep.
As suggested in Tip Six, you need to de-personalize the home so buyers can picture themselves moving right in. Remove most family photos, memorabilia and personal keepsakes and replace them with tasteful, simple artwork. Getting rid of clutter is essential. Clear off countertops and clean out the pantry and refrigerator. Add color with fresh flowers or bowls of fruit. Place new towels in the bathrooms, hide personal hygiene items, and don’t overdo it with scents. Last but not least, ensure that there is no evidence of pets.