Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a house or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today, Porch.com's Anne Reagan provides five inexpensive ways to prepare your home before selling.
Image: Senta Hoffmann/Wikimedia Think your Seattle home doesn't need to be staged to sell? Think again. Nearly 90% of all homebuyers use the Internet to search for their homes, so a photo-ready home is necessary to attract potential buyers. Real estate experts agree: on average, staged homes sell faster and for more money than non-staged homes.
Staging your home is an inexpensive way to make your home or condo look its best before listing. Many homeowners think that making major home improvements is the best tactic prior to listing. In reality, to make your home more attractive to potential buyers, the best thing you can do is to clean up, declutter and fix the obvious. Here are simple things you can do to get your home ready to sell. The good news is that you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get it done.
1. Compare and Contrast
A great way to get motivated for home staging is to sit down with your real estate agent and go through the pros and cons of each room. Experienced agents will tell you the best rooms to focus on (such as the kitchen and bathroom), and point out potential issues (like bad lighting or stained carpeting). Visit comparable homes in your neighborhood and notice what looks great and what you'd like to replicate. Your home doesn't have to look like a spread in a magazine, but you want to know the competition. Make a detailed list of each room and what you would like to fix yourself or which professionals may need to be hired.
2. Clean, Clean, Clean
The number one thing you should do when staging your home? Clean it! Nothing turns off homebuyers more than a dirty, smelly house. Of course, we're not talking about the kind of cleaning you do every week. Your home needs a deep cleaning where every corner is scrubbed, sanitized, and spotless. Prospective buyers open drawers and doors so tidy inside as well. Spots and stains stand out, so do smells. Try putting lemon peels in the garbage disposal, empty and clean the garbage cans, attack the bathroom mildew, and consider the long-standing realtor trick for the open house: fresh baked cookies (or apple pie) in the oven. If this to-do list is overwhelming, hire a cleaner. There are many housecleaning and carpet cleaning services that offer move-out packages.
3. Maximize Your Curb Appeal
The saying "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" is true when it comes to selling your home as well. Once potential buyers have found a home they like online, make sure you give them a reason to get out of their car. The best way to start your curb appeal is by taking a look at your landscaping. Replace dead plants, trim shrubs, lay down new bark dust and consider buying plants with blooms. A few well-placed containers by the front door, along with a new welcome mat, can make clean and friendly entrance. A good landscaper can be helpful for getting lots of work done quickly if you're short on time. In Seattle where moss grows on everything, you'll want to give your driveway and stairs a good cleaning. Power washers can be rented or you can hire a pro. Not only will your curb be clean, you'll make it less slippery for prospective buyers.
4. Declutter and De-Personalize
While your personal memorabilia and family photos are meaningful treasures to you, they make it harder for potential homebuyers to picture themselves living in your home. Before you invite a parade of strangers to visualize your home as their own, you'll need to dramatically declutter. Remove all personal artifacts from your walls and surfaces and store in a box. If walls appear too empty, consider inexpensive prints as temporary staging solutions. Remove dried flower arrangements, collectibles and general dust-collectors. If it looks like no one in particular lives in your home, you've done your job correctly. Rearranging furniture can help make your rooms look larger and more spacious and be sure that each room has a clear function. Be careful that you don't remove too much furniture: an empty room actually looks smaller than a room with furniture. Professional stagers will have furniture and accessories for rent and can quickly help create a welcoming and desirable space.
5. Fix The Obvious
You don't need to dive into a major home improvement project but you should fix obvious cracks, holes and other concerns. If something is broken, spend the time and money to fix it. If you have a long honey-do list, see if a handyman could tackle them in a day. Replacing highly visible items may also be important, as potential homebuyers tend to over-estimate the cost to repair or replace. Your stained carpeting, for example, may only cost $1000 to replace but a potential buyer may think it's a $5000 job. Some homeowners find it worth it to hire a professional home inspector who can point out issues that might derail a sale or detract buyers.