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Once you choose to sell your home, in some way it’s already no longer yours. No deals have been signed, no keys exchanged, no money deposited yet, as soon as that sign goes up outside, your property is no longer just for you. It’s time to consider how your home will look to buyers, and imagine how they would choose to live in it, rather than how you do. Staging, where you ‘dress’ your home for maximum selling appeal, will help to make your home as marketable as possible.
You don’t need to go all out and remove all your possessions before selling, or hire designer pieces to stage each room to perfection. But there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your property is presented to its best possible advantage.
Here are some useful tips for dressing your home in preparation for sale.
Clear the clutter. Most of us have some clutter in our houses, whether it’s the pile of papers on the corner of the kitchen counter that doubles as a workspace, or the collection of teapots taking up shelf space in the living room. We may not consider it clutter at all – we may love looking at teapots or have nowhere else to put those papers – but when a potential buyer walks into your home, it can be a distraction.
Consider show homes for apartments or new build developments. They have ornaments, certainly, but nothing too busy to detract from the space itself. Often surfaces are left bare, or with a minimum of items, so buyers can imagine how they would like to live in each of the rooms.
Think of it as getting a head start on packing for your move. Go from room to room and pack up or put away anything non-essential. Invest in a storage space for a month or two, make a neat pile of boxes in your garage, or see if you can leave your items with a friend or family member. And, if you really do need that pile of papers, buy a decorative storage box to put them in.
Lead by a nose. It’s been shown that houses which smell nice tend to attract more offers. Smell is one of our most powerful senses, so it seems obvious that an appealing scent will make our property more pleasant to buyers, while an unpleasant smell will put them off. Studies have shown that the scent of baking bread is a favourite across the board, while fresh linen, lavender and freshly brewed coffee also rate highly. You don’t need to do much to make this happen; an essential oil diffuser, a pot of coffee or some of those bake-in-the-oven rolls from the supermarket will get you on your way. And, er, if you can, refrain from using the bathroom too close to viewings. You don’t want buyers wandering around thinking about the drains!
Sell to the market. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? But this is where thinking of your home not as how you use it, but how potential buyers may want to use it, comes into play. For example, if you have a small bedroom that you currently use as an office, look at the area you live in and the likely buyers. If you work in an area with lots of professionals and first time buyers, leaving it as an office/bedroom will probably work. However, if you’re in a good school area that attracts lots of families, staging that room as a bedroom will make your property more attractive to buyers with children or additional family members. Your agent will be able to advise you as to the best way to stage your accommodation to make it appealing for the market.
Don’t get personal. You might have a wall of family photos you’ve been adding to for years, or you might like leaving your toothbrush on the bathroom counter, but buyers won’t be as keen on those slices of family life. They want to imagine themselves in your home, not feel like visitors. So, when you’re clearing that clutter, also take the time to pack away as many personal items as you can, including anything overtly religious.
Make it sparkle. You may no longer notice those fingerprints on the door, or the dust on the skirting board, or the grotty bit in the shower that’s really tough to clean, but your buyer will. Go through your house and clean it as thoroughly as you can.
Patch it up. You may no longer see the ding in the wall where you banged into it that one time, or the scuffs along the skirting board from the vacuum cleaner, or that bit of the door that the dog likes to scrabble. But buyers will. So take a weekend and go from room to room, patching, repairing and repainting where you can. It will make all the difference to how fresh your home appears to prospective buyers.
Let there be light. Open curtains, clear walkways, choose paint colours in light neutral tones. A home that feels bright, spacious and easy to move through will be appealing to prospective buyers. Rearrange furniture if necessary to make the space more open and easy to navigate, ensure curtains and blinds are open during viewings (and windows cleaned!) and, if there are any walls that need a bit of a paint touch up, aim for neutral tones.
You don’t have to spend an absolute fortune to get your house into tip-top shape for viewings by prospective buyers. It just needs a bit of hard work, and some careful choices when it comes to how you stage the rooms. So take advice from your agent, roll up your sleeves, and go get that sale!