Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Make Your House Look its Best to Sell or Rent

These tips are all over the internet, but I thought I would share with you how we staged our house and what we do to make it look its best when people come to view it.

1. Declutter.  The idea is to make rooms look a large as possible, and also to make it easier for the buyers/renters to see themselves living in your home.  I think one easy way to see what is 'clutter' is to take pictures of your rooms.  Look at them trying to pretend to be a buyer/renter and see what things in the room are taking away from the natural assets of the home itself.  Sometimes, that means moving furniture.  Sometimes it means storing items.  In the kitchen, this might mean storing some of your countertop appliances in the cabinets.  Right before a showing, I always put the paper towel rack, sponge, and dish towels under the sink.

2. Depersonalize. This is another way to make visitors feel like the home could be their own.  If they see you everywhere they turn, all they see is YOUR house, not THEIR house. The first time we put our house on the market, we took down all the pictures of our family and put up more generic photos.  This time around, we didn't do that because I felt like it was more important that the house remain our home for the short time we have left in it and we have a few large photos with artistic twists, not tons of little candid ones.  If you have tons of little ones, consider taking away half of them, or replacing some of the family photos with art or nature photos temporarily.

3. Light.  You may not have ever noticed, but this is an old trick of the real estate trade.  Turn every light in the house on for a showing.  Every lamp, the hood on the stove, the closet lights.  Take advantage of natural light too.  Turn blinds so they let in maximum light, raise shades, pull curtains back.  The light makes rooms feel larger and more inviting.  Maybe houses suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder too and the light makes them seem less SAD.

4. Scent.  I'm sure you've heard the trick about throwing cookies in the oven before a showing.  (last time I tried that I burnt them and it didn't work out so well)  But perhaps avoid cooking food with noxious odors before you have visitors.  No cabbage the day before a showing!  Find a light scent either in spray form or candle form to fill your home with a gentle fresh scent.  Don't overdo it!  Try to spray the house about 15 minutes before they're due to arrive.  That way the house smells lovely, but they don't feel like they're being fumigated.  (Glade fresh scent for tough pet odors is my personal favorite and I've had multiple people ask me what I use because they like it so much)  If you have a bread maker, you can always set that bad boy to run during the showing too.

5. Pay attention to first impressions.  That means curb appeal, and the first room they'll walk into.  If you have a yard, try to mow it the day of or the day before a showing so it gives the best impression possible.  Weed the flower beds.  Try to have some color in the flower beds, even if it means just some green in the wintertime.  As for the first room they walk into...that's where you should focus the most on cleaning and de-cluttering and lighting.  If you do nothing else...make sure that room is perfectly inviting.

6. Cleaning.  Last but not least, make sure the house is clean.  Potential buyers/renters see a home that is well cared for and it makes them feel that the home is more trustworthy...that if you've taken care of the cleaning, you've probably also maintained the home well and in the case of renters, that you will be a conscientious landlord.

Here is a rundown of things I do before a showing (ie: how I became a maid)
-put away all toys in the appropriate bins
-put remotes in the coffee table drawer
-hide the laptops under the edge of the sofa
- make sure no laundry is visible (this includes the clean things that might be hanging out in the laundry room waiting to dry or be ironed...I've been known to stuff clean things back into the dryer to hide them in a pinch)
-make sure all beds are made
-run the vacuum over the entire house if it has been more than 3 days, if I vacuumed more recently,  I just run the vacuum over the kitchen, dining room, living room, and master bathroom (because the litter box is in there)
- make sure all blinds are open and turn on all lights
- spritz each room with a light fragrance
- wipe down all the surfaces in the master bath and the kitchen
- hide the towel holder, any dish towels, and the sponge in the kitchen (because that's where people come in)
-  in general, I try to mow the yard the day of a showing or the day before so the yard looks its best

When we have people who are coming to view it as a rental, I also get Bella a snack and something to do so she doesn't get under their feet, and the dog goes out in the backyard.

So there you have it...my advice on staging your home to sell or rent.

Do you have any other tips on how to make a home more attractive to buyers/renters?

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