Stage your home to sell; help buyers see it as theirs

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TRESA ERICKSON
One year ago today you decided to sell your home and buy a new one. Rather than pack everything up and move right away, you decided to wait and see if you could sell your home first. You made a few repairs, cleaned everything up and found a real estate agent. Six months later, your home is still on the market and there hasn’t been a bite yet. What in the world is wrong?

There could be numerous answers to that question. The market could be slow, the neighborhood could be unappealing or you may not have presented your home in the best light. Take a hard look at your home. How well have you set it up to sell? Making a home attractive to buyers, or staging it as it is better known, is an important step in getting it to sell.

Staging a home isn’t time consuming or costly. Most owners can usually do it in a few weeks for less than a thousand dollars. The most important step in the process is to put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. From the moment they arrive until the moment they leave, they are trying to envision themselves in your home, so make it easy on them by following these guidelines.

* Clean. It’s a fact. Soiled carpets, dirty windows and filthy fixtures are a real turnoff. Get out your cleaning supplies and scrub away the grime. If you don’t have the time, hire a cleaning crew to do it for you.

* Declutter. Clutter makes a home look smaller and detracts from its character. Let your home’s bones shine by eliminating the clutter. Remove appliances from the countertops, put away the knickknacks and remove some furniture. Let your rooms breathe and give buyers a chance to spread out.

* Depersonalize. Remember, you want buyers to imagine themselves in your home. If it’s filled with your family photos, collections and mementos, that’s going to be difficult. Remove your personals and create a blank slate for buyers.

* Neutralize. You may love bold colors, but that doesn’t mean potential buyers will. Neutral colors are easier on the eyes, and contrary to what you might have heard, white is not the only neutral color. Creams, tans and even caramels will work. Grab some rollers and paint and give buyers a neutral palette.

* Repair. Look around your home. Got a drippy faucet or a cracked tile? Minor problems like these can turn buyers off fast. Make repairs right away.

Once you’ve taken these initiatives, you can focus on the little things that will make a big difference. Start on the outside. Stand in front of your house. See any hedges that could use pruning or surfaces that could use a fresh coat of paint? The first thing buyers will see is the outside of your home. Make sure it has curb appeal, or they might just leave.

Next to the front yard, the entryway is crucial. Any missteps in the entryway could make or break a sale. Welcome buyers into what could be their home with a light, airy and inviting entry. Replace light bulbs, remove rugs that break up the expanse of the space and add some fresh flowers or bake some cookies for a homey scent.

Kitchens and bathrooms also make a huge impact on buyers’ minds. Do something extra in these rooms. Scrub everything until it gleams and fix up the cabinets. Repaint or resurface cabinets that need it. Repair scratches with a wood tone touchup stick and replace old knobs with new inexpensive ones.

If you’re unsure that you’ve done a good job after you’ve taken these measures, visit a model home. Model homes are always staged to sell, and you should be able to tell from a quick glance around how well you’ve staged your home.

Unfortunately, staging will not guarantee that your home will sell. However, it will go a long way toward making buyers stand up and take notice. The more buyers who notice your home, the better chance it will sell.

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