The first day of spring was yesterday—and you know what that means. It’s the official start of the home-buying season! (Technically the season came early this year — California had 12 out of 20 of the hottest markets during the month of February, according to the Realtor.com Hotness Index).
If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, now is the time. But before you do, you might want to start a mental checklist of pre-listing to-dos. De-clutter your office. Check. Clean out your garage. Check. Repaint your hot pink bedroom a tasteful neutral. Eh….check. Hire a listing agent. No question. (You better get on that, stat!)
To help you get your house in tip-top shape for open houses and showings, here are 12 simple and relatively inexpensive tips from stagers that will make your house stand out to buyers (and may ultimately help you sell it quicker and for more money in a hot, highly competitive market).
1. Pump Up Your Curb Appeal
The old saying is true: you only get once chance to make a good first impression. Make sure that the outside of your home looks as appealing as possible. Water and mow the lawn, trim the trees, cut back overgrowth and plant colorful flowers in the front and back. Even paint your front door an unexpected color—to give buyers a hint at what awaits them inside.
2. Clear the Clutter
When it comes to staging, any stager will tell you: less is more. Having fewer things filling the rooms makes your home look both neater and roomier. It allows buyers to more easily visualize their own furnishings there. Be sure to store bicycles, gardening equipment, and children’s and pet’s toys. Also move any cars from the driveway and along the curb in front of your home.
3. Focus on the Living Areas First
A living room is an area in which potential buyers should be able to envision themselves entertaining friends or gathering with their family. With that in mind, consider making the area appear as large and functional as possible by removing any unnecessary furniture and decorations.
4. Go Light and Airy in the Bedrooms
To make bedrooms appear bigger, try painting walls a light color and bringing in a neutral rug. Since beds will be the largest piece in the room, consider linens that don’t stand out too much.
5. Give Your Bath a Makeover
Another area buyers will typically look is the bathroom. Some stagers suggest replacing standard bathroom tub or doing tile surface refinishing at a cost of about $1,900. You can add a new vanity, a medicine cabinet and hardware for an additional charge. New floor tiles can be laid on top of existing tile. A little goes a long way.
6. Make Your Home Anonymous
Of course you’re proud of your family, but now is not the time to show their pictures and mementos. Stow away family photos, trophies, collectibles and any other personal items. You want buyers to imagine their families in the house, and that’s hard to do with constant reminders of your family. This process can also help you declutter.
7. Make Necessary Repairs
Look at your house with a critical eye. The last thing you want potential buyers to see are chipped tiles in the bathroom, a faucet that doesn’t work, or burned out bulbs in light fixtures. All systems and appliances should be in good working condition.
8. Consider Cosmetic Improvements
Simple, cosmetic touch-ups like painting, wallpapering, adding new light fixtures, and minor landscaping, can really help a home show better. If you paint, make sure it’s in a neutral color. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these projects to help make your home look its best but remember that if there are any problems these must be disclosed to potential buyers whether or not the problems have been remediated.
9. Give Your Home a Good Spring Cleaning
This can be the most cost-effective thing you do in prepping your home for sale. Potential buyers will want to inspect every part of your home, from the kitchen to the bathrooms to the garage. After removing any clutter, clean the inside of the house from top to bottom. Clean carpets, spotless kitchens and bathrooms, and tidy bedrooms can help make a positive impression.
10. Go Green
An easy way to breathe new life into your rooms is by adding plants, whether succulents, ferns or rosemary topiaries. Place a floral arrangement on tabletops for a lush touch.
11. Mix and Match Your Furniture
Sure, you may be proud of your matching Pottery Barn sofas and loveseats in the living room. But you can give the space a quick refreshed look by separating those pieces. Replace a bulky piece of furniture with a chair that takes up less space and makes the room seem larger.
12. Add the Finishing Touches
When stagers are through decluttering a home they finish by adding a few carefully selected items for beauty—a painting in the living room, fresh flowers in the kitchen, an accent pillow for the sofa, or maybe an area rug for the bedroom.
Preparing your home for sale doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, costly endeavor. By making a few simple changes you can help make a difference when it comes time to sell.