You only get one chance to make a first impression. The same goes for a home you’re trying to sell. In fact, a Coldwell Banker survey found that staged homes sell twice as fast.
“Emotion sells houses,” says Chris Pearson of Echo Ranch, a full-service home staging and interior design company in Los Angeles. “The first feelings a prospective buyer feels when they walk in will usually determine what they will continue to feel about the home.”
Andrea Geller, a broker associate at Hot Property – The Chaz Walters Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Chicago, agrees. “The goal of the first impression is to make sure that there are as few objections as possible to overcome,” she says.
Here’s a list of simple dos and don’ts that will help prepare your home for the ever-changing and challenging real estate market.
- Make sure the home exterior looks cared for, no matter the season. In the summer, basic landscaping, such as mowing the lawn or removing weeds, does the trick. As it gets colder, leaves should be raked and snow should be shoveled.
- Create a flow, so potential buyers can easily walk from room to room. “[The space] needs to flow and not block paths of travel. And of course, avoid clutter. Everything needs a purpose,” says Pearson. Unnecessary objects shouldn’t obstruct paths around the house. If an object does not serve a purpose, remove it.
- Eliminate any lingering smells in the home. “Most people have a strong sense of smell,” explains Geller. “If there is a negative odor that hits the prospective buyer hard when they walk in, they never seem to get over it.” However, avoid trying to mask odors with strong perfumed smells. Heavily fragranced candles, potpourri and room diffusers can be just as offensive.
- Stay at home when the time comes to show your property. Potential buyers have a hard time connecting with a space if the family is home. They need to imagine how they would live in the space and can’t focus on that if you’re watching TV or doing laundry.
- Store excess clutter that has been removed from your home in a garage, crawl space or attic. Potential buyers will come across this during the showing and it will indicate there isn’t enough space to live comfortably. Instead, store clutter off-site. Depending on the amount removed from your home, you may need to consider renting a storage locker.
- Get rid of all the character. When de-cluttering your home, don’t “over-stage and create an atmosphere that doesn’t fit the personality of the home,” says Geller. Over-staging a home makes it look cold and impersonal. A well-staged home will have a tasteful selection of personal objects placed throughout the space. “The purchaser may ultimately connect to the property in some way that screams ‘this is home,’” says Geller. “That feeling may very well be created as a result of the seller’s belongings.”
By Alexandra Ward