As I sit here listening to the wind gust outside my window, it's difficult to believe we are quickly heading into spring. While the weather has not turned the corner, the spring real estate market is in full swing.
I have often been asked if I can offer any decorating tips that will help people sell their homes faster. While I'm glad to hear people are making efforts to get their homes ship-shape prior to putting the ‘for sale’ sign on the lawn, know that the best thing you can do to prepare is in fact, NOT decorate.
Decorating is something you do to make your home reflect your personality and tastes. When preparing to sell, make every effort to remove your personality from the spaces and approach the project as one of transforming your home into a commodity where your tastes and your family are not front-and-centre.
After years of creating a home, it’s a difficult task for many.
I assure you, "staging" rather than decorating before you sell, is well worth the effort. Putting a staged house on the market is proven to better your chances of selling quickly and for more money than marketing an un-staged one.
In much the same way you typically don’t want to be at home when prospective buyers are visiting it, you also don’t want those same people to visualize you or your family living there. As a seller, your goal is to have potential buyers picture themselves living in your home.
Obviously there's no escaping your style completely - the sofa you chose is the one you chose - but the best prepared homes are the ones that simply highlight all the great features of your property while helping you begin the process of moving out, both figuratively and literally.
So, step one when prepping your home for sale is to pack away all traces of your family life - most importantly remove personal photos from walls and surfaces, remove small knick-knacks and put away any and all personal items that might be lying around the house for others to see.
Removing your personal items will also help ensure that nothing of value goes mysteriously missing when your home is being shown to prospective buyers. Consider removing real valuables to a safety-deposit box or store them with an extended family member.
Prospective buyers will open cabinet and closets, so make every effort to reduce the amount of clutter in these spaces, ensuring that the floors and shelves are tidy and contain only what you need day-to-day.
There's a certain amount of "stuff" that someone considering your home should and will anticipate seeing when they visit. Since not everyone has access to outside storage,it is understandable if you have neatly stored packed boxes in your basement or garage.
Create as much visual space as possible by reducing the number of pieces of furniture in each room. Rid spaces of small novelty chairs/table sets, un-used children’s toys and small nesting tables - things that clutter up a space. Remove or draw back light-blocking window coverings and rid the house of dated window treatments.
Have a look around your home and determine what if any rooms need painting. If the wall colour is bright or pungent, consider painting more neutral, buyer-friendly colours like Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan (HC-81) or Sherwin Williams Relaxed Khaki (SW-6149).
Simplifying the palette by narrowing the scheme down to two or three colours throughout the house will make the space feel larger, less cluttered and more palatable to the average homebuyer. The goal is to make your property as appealing to the largest number of potential buyers as possible.
I will forewarn you that you may be overwhelmed at the amount of work required when you start making a list of the items that need to be removed from your home for the purposes of creating more space. If you’re struggling, consider the services of a stager to help you prioritize the work.
Remember that whether you do so now in preparation for selling, or do so as you're getting ready to move, you WILL have to pack. Why not do so when it will have the greatest impact on the effectiveness with which you sell your home? Know that when it comes time to move you will already have done a large portion of the work.
Don't leave all the work until the weather is warmer and you want to be outside. Use the winter's cold indoor-time to get all the difficult, interior work done. Tackle outside work and yard clean up as the weather improves.