With the popularity of HGTV and design shows, many home owners feel more comfortable than ever with what to do to prepare their home for sale. They jump on the bandwagon with decluttering and depersonalizing, but sometimes forget that the key to home staging is to make it possible for Buyers to envision themselves living in your house. With that in mind, here are five things that I hope home owners will consider when preparing their homes for sale.
Making the home feel sterile. This is not about cleanliness. A clean home is one of the top things Buyers look for, so scrub away! This is about removing too much. While you want to remove items that personalize the home (family photos, diplomas, hunting trophies, etc.) you want to accessorize with artwork and decor that make the home warm and inviting to Buyers. The pictures of your home should make them want to book a showing and the showing should make them want to linger and start planning where they are going to put their couch.
Not realizing the importance of lighting. Buyers respond to light, bright and open spaces. While you may be trying to save money on electricity or not personally feel the need for additional task lighting in a space, the more light you can bathe a room in, the better. First up, make sure all of your light fixtures have working light bulbs in them. Not only will burnt out bulbs decrease the amount of light in a space, they also are a red flag to Buyers that the home owner is not keeping up with home maintenance. It may not be rational, but they will decide that if you can’t change a light bulb, there must be a leak somewhere that has been ignored for years. Secondly, you may need to invest in some new lamps, especially if you have a home that does not have overhead lighting in the rooms. Table lamps, bedside lamps, desk lamps, and floor lamps are key to creating pools of light around a home. As a bonus, your eyes will thank you for making them work less! Trade out dark lamp shades for lighter colors and use the brightest bulb possible. This is also one instance where you will want to avoid LEDs. Use incandescent bulbs that turn on to full brightness with the flip of the switch.
Leaving out items that imply “work” to a Buyer. You want your home to be a welcoming oasis. This means hiding anything that reminds Buyers of the daily work of life. Hide trash cans, toilet scrubbers and plungers, dish towels (even the pretty ones), dish soap, laundry baskets, rakes, brooms, etc. Your home is the miracle home that stays clean and organized without help of such items! In fact, you will want to remove all evidence that you even need to shower in this home, so gather all of your soaps, shampoos and loofahs into a plastic tote to tuck away for showings. In addition to this, you will want to make sure to complete any started projects before you list your home. Incomplete home projects indicate work to be done and, even if you intend to complete it before closing, it does not make a good impression to Buyers regarding pride of ownership and upkeep and will cause them to wonder what else has been partially done.
Using scented candles. Candles are an incredible way to add ambiance to a space, whether they are lit or not. However, white candles or unscented colored candles that tie into the colors of a room should be used. There are several reasons to avoid using scented candles. Some people are very sensitive to fragrance and they may not be able to stay in the home long enough to picture themselves living there. Others may have a memory, good or bad, that is triggered by certain scents. However, the most important reason not to use scented candles or plug-ins is that Buyers will subconsciously (or out loud!) wonder what exactly that scent is hiding. Is there mold? A strong animal smell? Some other unappealing odor? It is much better to give your home a thorough cleaning, especially carpeting, and use a deodorizer such as Pure Ayre to eliminate any odors left behind from pets or cooking smells before showings.
Leaving evidence of pets. Speaking of pets. While many people love their pets and home buyers often are looking for a home where they can have pets, it is important that home owners hide all evidence of pets while showing your home for sale. Pets can be distracting if they are left in the home for showings. Whining and barking does not allow Buyers to remain comfortable with hanging out in the space for long enough to picture their own furniture and family life in the home. They will also distract pet lovers from looking at the home and attract them to playing with Spot instead. You also have to be aware that not all home owners have pets and may think that pets indicate damaged flooring and pet odors that they will have to address. While your home is for sale, I recommend bathing pets more than usual to decrease any pet odors that you have become immune to. Buyers (especially non pet owners) will pick up on these odors with their first step in the door. You will also want to tuck away cages, toys and food dishes for showings. I suggest keeping a laundry basket handy to quickly gather up these items, and your pets, when you leave for showings. Remember to also check the yard for “land mines” and give a good spritz your odor eliminator on the way out of the door.
These are just some of the mistakes that I see home owners make when putting their home on the market. While none of these may seem like a big deal to many Sellers, they can translate into a home that is not as appealing to the widest range of Buyers. The more Buyers that are attracted to a home, the more offers the Seller will receive – and the more offers, the more options a Seller has to pick from.
Reach out if you are considering Buying or Selling a home and we can talk about what I do to help my clients succeed. I will always be honest with you about the market and what needs to be done to help you reach your real estate goals!