Moving is no doubt a chaotic time — especially for those selling a home.
There are so many things to worry about, such as finding a new place, filling out paperwork and moving box after box. But of all things on the to-do list, arguably nothing is more important when it comes to selling a house than proper home staging. It is what sets the tone, or reputation, of a home once it is put on the market.
Everybody’s definition of a welcoming home or a good vibe is different, but real estate agents say there are a few basic things every seller should do when preparing for an open house. Keep these things in mind and the experts say the chances of a quick sale instantly go up.
Keep it clean
A little extra cleaning can really go a long way.
“Clean like you have never cleaned before,” said Susan Ley, a real estate agent with Mark D. Olejniczak Realty in Green Bay. “If there is ever a time to de-clutter, it’s now.”
When cleaning, Ley said sellers should clear off countertops and nontraditional spaces used to organize belongings. She said having items out on counters or bread and cereal boxes on top of the refrigerator, for example, indicate that a kitchen does not have enough storage space.
She added sellers do not have time to clean their whole house before a showing should focus on the kitchen and bathrooms because those features are what sell a home.
Also, do not forget the front door.
Janet Tackmier, real estate agent and home staging specialist with Keller Williams in Green Bay, said many homeowners tend to overlook their front entrance — mainly because they rarely use it. Rather, most people go into their homes through side doors or the garage.
Tackmier said sellers should replace or repaint the front door, sweep steps and ensure the doorbell and light bulbs work. After all, she said, the entrance is the first impression. Make it a good one.
Keep it simple
Those looking to buy want to walk into a home and visualize its potential. That is why Malinda Trimberger, real estate agent for Executive Realty in Green Bay, urges sellers to make their home look as neutral as possible. She said painting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make some big changes and spruce up a house for showing.
“It really gives you the biggest bang for your buck and helps to depersonalize your space for someone else,” Ley said. “You want your home to appeal to as many buyers as possible. It’s not about you anymore.”
Ley suggests whites, grays, tans and other similar tones as opposed to bright, bold colors like blue, purple, red, etc. Those colors, she said, can be far too much of a statement for the average buyer.
Tackmier, however, takes different approach. She said while a home should be neat and tidy, there are benefits to still having some personal touches throughout the home during walk-throughs. She said unique, “do it yourself” projects can make a home stand out in the minds of buyers and get them excited about the house’s potential.
Simplicity also applies to furniture. Both Tackmier and Trimberger said one of the biggest mistake sellers make is to overfill rooms with furniture, making even the most spacious rooms seem tight or confined.
Keep it real
This is not the time nor place for theatrics. In fact, Ley said she does not like the term “home staging” because it implies a fake setting.
Ley said her biggest pet peeve is when a seller puts a champagne bottle and two glasses near a Jacuzzi. She said that’s not only cheesy, but it can feel almost like a bribe or an insult to the buyer — especially an experienced one.
Another “no-no” is planned smells like coffee, cake or room fragrance plug-ins. Ley said these scents might smell nice, but they can be a huge red flag to buyers who will suspect that the seller may be trying to hide a nasty odor.
However, that does not apply to the smell of cleaning products used to get rid of pet odors.
Let there be light
To Trimberger, there is nothing better than natural light. Opening windows brings life into a home and can brighten the house-hunting experience, which can often be overwhelming.
If it is a dark, rainy day, she suggest sellers turn on their best light fixtures.
Tackmier said this is where it pays to work with elements. On a side note, she said she often hears positive responses from buyers when sellers bring other outdoor features such as flowers and other plants inside the home.
Take it outside
All three experts said curb appeal is integral.
Ley said paying attention to landscaping is important because buyers tend to do drive-bys before scheduled walk-throughs.
“If the lawn is overgrown, among other things, and they don’t like what they see, then you have lost that sale before they have even entered your home,” Ley said.
The moral: Rake, mow and plant because the outside is just as important as the inside.
Many people are put in the tricky situation of living in the home they are trying to sell.
To manage this, Ley said, people need to relax, realize the situation is only temporary and get in the habit of putting things away as soon as they are done using them.
Tackmier said taking just a few minutes to organize one area each day is a good way to keep the clutter under control. She said buyers pay attention to every nook and cranny, and that dreaded, overstuffed junk drawer could be the deal killer.