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Staging your Home to Sell

Hints for Successful Showings

Staging a HomeOften times the smallest changes can greatly enhance a home's "showability." Sellers don't seem to realize when "too much of their home" is showing. Setting your home for its finest presentation requires a room-by-room critique to offer the best first impression possible.

When studying a room, the first thing your eye catches should be one of the home's positive attributes. For example, a home with a massive fireplace commands the first attention spot, but the poor placement of furniture, too much "comfy" Afghans and a messy stockpile of books and magazines will distort the simplicity of the room's greatest asset. Add in last night's empty pizza box and ashtrays full of cigarette butts and any prospective buyer is certain to be less appreciative of the finer points the home had to offer.

Ten tips to keep in mind while you're getting ready for buyers to preview your home.

    1. Start by packing up the belongings that aren't essential to your daily life. Extra books, magazines, kids' artwork, blankets that don't match the decor, etc., should be boxed and labeled for your next home. Extra knick-knacks from Christmas, cluttered bulletin boards, and several months bank statements can be hidden. Kitchens are the biggest culprits as they are such a busy meeting place in the home. Things like discount coupons, excessive decorative magnets, and photos catch the eye of the overwhelmed buyer. The top of the refrigerator is the largest collector of sometimes-used gadgets. Unless you use your wok daily, it may be best to clear the top and front of it to make the kitchen a little simpler. Convenient appliances also do better when tucked away in cupboards. Also be sure to check switch plates for fingerprints and smudges, as those are the first places to get noticed. Doorbells are another place that fingerprints are evident. Make sure you're making the right first impression.
    2. Family rooms are for relaxing and better staged with crisp impressions, not your lazy evenings! Fold up grandma's afghans, get rid of tired pillows, and pack the slippers and cribbage sets for a neat and clean appearance. Left-over smolderings in the fireplace can add a stale scent to the room so pay attention to removing ashes to avoid the unappreciated smokey smell from last night's fire.
    3. Bedrooms are another place we enjoy our conveniences the most, but having your robe and slippers waiting for you does not offer top exposure to a viewing family. Get closets slimmed down so they appear larger. Freshen with a soft potpourri to diminish the stale odors that come with humidity and small confined places. Although we like our shades and blinds pulled for sleeping hours,  generally all buyers are drawn to a light, airy, and bright room. Open all window treatments to maximize brightness. If windows abeing exposed, be sure they are clean and sparkling.  Your house shows its best when it looks cared for. Remove jewelry and other small personal items from dresser top. Clean and simple sells best.
    4. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to brighten a home, besides a fresh coat of paint, is to increase the wattage of your light bulbs. That small guest room may seldom be used, but it needs to look bigger and brighter to an interested buyer. Be sure the lamp can handle a stronger bulb and invest in a 3-way if possible. When a showing is scheduled; turn on every light bulb in the house for best-showing potential. Look around model homes; you'll notice all the lights are always on, even on sunny days! .This isn't the time to conserve electricity – it's part of your marketing plan. If you have a room that shows particularly dark, put in an attractive lamp and leave it on most of the time. It will help the buyer leave with a brighter impression of the rest of the home.
    5. Everybody has a "junk" room or closet. It's acceptable not to be perfect throughout, but try to minimize the clutter in one room, desk, or area, and you're guaranteed a better showing. If it's impossible to move around in rooms you could be adversely affecting the buyer's perception of the size of the home, so give careful consideration to overstuffed rooms.
    6. All basements and garages are relatively the same – full of seasonal equipment, holiday decorations,  and tools. Garage sales are the best remedy for liquidating extras accumulated over the years. Better to sell them now than to pay to move things you don't need. The biggest offender in basement commentary is the strong mold odor caused by high humidity. A dehumidifier can assist greatly in relieving that damp "basement" feeling, and can alleviate concerns of water problem that don't exist. It's worth the effort to alleviate this common problem.
    7. The worst offenders for dust and dirt are the cold air returns and heating vents. If they won't clean up with soap and water, and painting doesn't improve them either, purchasing new ones is not that expensive and a great alternative. A house with cobwebs and loaded heater vents gives the wrong impression about the cleanliness of the present owner.
    8. Pet dishes need to move so they won't get kicked accidentally. Water provides the perfect setting for falls or slips that can cause an accident. Cat boxes and pet beds should be clean and fresh and out of sight if possible. Those that don't appreciate pets as much as you may be turned off by "pet evidence."
    9. Junior's poster-covered walls do minimize the real picture of the room. Limit the "artwork" to one or two posters and promise him he can resurrect the rest at your next destination.
    10. Bathroom grout must look like new. Bleaching can help, but its worth the money to pay a professional to patch and re-grout problem areas. Don't try extensive grouting yourself. Often amateur attempts only exacerbate the problem. Shower tracks from doors must shine, along with the mirrors. Remove prescription bottles, old toothbrushes, worn towels, and any other unnecessary clutter. Also take down old, moldy shower curtains and limit shampoo bottles to a few. Out-dated colors in sinks can be replaced for a low investment and can provide a much-updated feeling. This room should get the most attention and look its best at all times.
    11. A real turnoff is a tired home in other than pristine condition.

Copyright REEPco, Inc. 1998 Permission granted to Realtalk Subscribers for use in their personal Internet marketing plan.

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