Design WiseShelagh Duncan

Stage It to Sell It

Getting Your Home to say “Buy Me!” to Prospective Buyers

By Shelagh Duncan

Home interiorSo, you have decided that you are going to sell your home. It could be that you have seen a fabulous property elsewhere, or for any number of other reasons. The bottom line is that you want it to sell, and to sell quickly! There are some very important things that you will need to think about before getting the realtor in.

You will want the prospective buyers to feel at home there. You want them to be able to imagine themselves living and enjoying what you have. But remember, they are not you. They will have their own tastes and lifestyle so you have to be ruthless at removing as much personal memorabilia as possible. De-personalize the house – it is just a house now, not your home, and your job is to get that house ready to hand over to the next owners.
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Firstly you will need to emotionally detach yourself: not easy I know. Now, think of yourself as a stranger visiting your home for the first time – the scratched cabinets and chipped tile that you no longer notice will be seen! If it is easier, ask a trusted friend to be that critical eye and point out the areas that need attention.
There are some tried and true rules for getting a house ready to sell.

  1. Curb appealCurb Appeal. Yup, we have all heard about this, but if your home does not look inviting from the car – you are dead in the water. You will need to draw people inside, and the best way to do that is make their first impression a powerful one. Add pots of colourful plants at the entrance to the driveway – plants are cheap here. Get the garden neat and trimmed. Power wash paths, steps and driveways to create a spotless entry, and get rid of any messy weeds and debris from the area.
  2. Paint Colours. Back home I would advise you to use a very neutral palette, but here colour is king! Please don’t go crazy and paint everything in bright colours, but maybe select a feature wall or an architectural detail and this is where you can add some Wow. Make sure the colour you select works with your existing accessories and art and if not, get cushion covers and paint some clear vases in that colour to create a cohesive look. It’s safer to stick to a selected palette, but if you are not sure, then use the same colour in a different tone in different rooms. Yellow is a popular colour. Not only is it supposed to repel bugs, but it is a cheerful, happy colour. (Try Sherwin Williams June Day 6682). If you have not painted your house in over two years, now is the time.
  3. Light & Bright is the way to go. Make sure all rooms have lots of lighting. Those flush-mount builder’s specials were not designed for our high vaulted ceilings, and are pretty useless at lighting a room. Get some table and floor lamps and eliminate dark halls and corners.
  4. De-Clutter. Don’t just sort – delete! Sell off unused and surplus things and if you have not used or worn it in a year or more – that qualifies as surplus. If you cannot sell it, then donate it to a local church or charity store (ask me if you cannot find one!). Then you will know that your things are being given to people who really need them. Store things you are keeping but do not need every day in a bodega or a friends place and then concentrate on the rest. Arrange your home decor pieces according to colour or theme and keep it to a minimum. Less is more! Clean out closets, cupboards and storage areas. Keep all horizontal areas as clean and open as possible as this makes a room seem larger. Organize what is left – makeup, nail polish etc. into a cutlery tray, earrings into a clear plastic egg carton base or ice cube tray, and small plastic containers can help sort pretty well every drawer or kitchen and bathroom cupboard in your house – I’ll guarantee it!
  5. HandymanThe Devil is in the Details. Hire a fix-it person. Find someone to take care of all those small fix-ups that have been needing attention over the years. You have gotten used to that broken light switch, leaky faucet or faulty door handle, but it will wave a ‘maintenance’ red flag to potential buyers. He can do paint or stain touch-ups, repair problem drawers, as well as fix grout lines and many other small jobs if you hire them for the day. Be critical, make a job list before they arrive and be super efficient by having all the supplies ready. Everyone’s looking for a deal – don’t give buyers ammunition to reduce your asking price!
  6. Clean, Clean, Clean. I know, this seems obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough. We are only human and cannot live in a spotless environment all the time – especially when we have all the bugs and dust that the jungle delivers on a daily basis! Hire a cleaning team to get the place perfect – then keep someone coming every week for the overall cleaning while you do your bit every day. If you have a musty cupboard under a sink for example, clean it out with Concrobium Mold Control to kill the mold, or keep some charcoal briquettes (without lighting fluid) in there to absorb the smell. Bathrooms and kitchens are the #1 most important areas and everything has to shine. If you have water spots on the glass shower, try cleaning with a little shampoo on a wet sponge to minimize the appearance. Stained grout has to be scrubbed, and faucets and appliances should radiate cleanliness. Have clean towels ready for a showing, and add some scented candles and new soap.
  7. Once the house is clean and fresh, keep it that way. Get into the habit of keeping things tidy and it will be less stress when you have the realtors show up at your door with potential buyers. When you do the dishes or the laundry – put them away quickly. Keep the pet paraphernalia neat and clean and remember to keep pets out of the way for showings. Place scented candles or unwrapped incense around the house to keep it smelling fresh, and ensure beds are made and look attractive. Use trays and baskets to contain daily clutter. In the bathrooms keep the lid closed. It is good Feng Shui and really, who wants to look down into the bowl of someone else’s toilet???
  8. Perfect patio and poolPool and Patio should be Picture Perfect. The view and the pool are right up there on the buyer’s priority list – this could be their vacation home! From the listing they will know about the view, but if the pool is not clean and sparkling, and the patio comfortable and inviting they will not be able to image themselves enjoying it and living there. People naturally want to show off their new home to their friends – and want to impress them. You have to help make that happen!
  9. The Guy’s Garage. The garage often is more than a place to just park the SUV – it can be a workshop and storage area too, and ends up looking pretty messy. Use the same principles as you do inside the house. So sort and clean up this area, power wash the floor and get rid of garbage – then buyers can see if there is potentially room for the car as well as their quad.
  10. Finishing touches, towels with flowersReplace. Replacing drawer pulls and knobs is well worth the investment. They do not have to be fancy, but EPA has a great selection, and local fereterias are starting to as well. Damaged, odd or corroded hardware quickly devalues the look of a kitchen or bathroom, and so do ill-fitting or old and stained faucets. Keep the finishes the same in each room – brushed nickel, chrome etc. Replace old and worn bedding and window coverings too. Make the bedrooms look inviting with new bed throws (or borrowed ones) and throw pillows. Try and replace anything that is out of date and tired looking. Often people will want to buy the furniture etc. with the house, so you can recoup your costs.

You may love your new look so much you may just decide to stay, so until next time . . . Shelagh
Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita  – 2743-8323
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