It’s widely known that properly staged homes sell faster and net more money to sellers at closing. Even if they’re aiming for a sign in their yard this coming spring, most sellers are not thinking about getting their home ready for the parade now. In this post I’ll make the case for starting a few projects early, particularly if you’re planning on conducting the maintenance, repairs and/or upgrades yourself.
1) Let’s start with “porch” Appeal: We won’t be planting flowers and fertilizing lawns in the dead of winter but it’s the perfect time to trim trees, shrubs and woody plants. Most of these plantings will respond better to pruning during dormancy and none of them should be in contact with the siding or roof. If you got ‘em, clean the oil stains in the driveway and repair trip hazards along the walkways. Take a long look at your front entry because your potential buyers will as their agent is groping with the lock box. Perhaps a little fresh paint on the door frame and railing is in order? How do the window screens look? We mostly see our blinds and curtains from inside of our homes, but your buyer will be judging from the front porch. Faded or damaged window coverings should be replaced if they’re visible in this area.
2) De-cluttering is a process not an event: Your closets and cupboards will look great because you got them cleaned up and organized over the past several months. And the hallway, it looks so much brighter after removing the 30 or so photos of your kids and family. Most of the Knick Knacks have been removed from the furniture and counter tops which really helped to depersonalize the home. Another big win is that you can now actually park a car or two in the garage. How did you do it? Well, you probably sold some items, perhaps rented temporary storage and/or gave some stuff away. One thing’s for sure, it’s likely that you didn’t get all this done in the week, or maybe even the month before you put your house up for sale.
3) Paint, Paint, Paint: Without a doubt, fresh interior paint provides the biggest bang for your buck. Also, an activity that most of us can do ourselves and perfect for those days when it’s too cold and wet to enjoy the outdoors. Stay neutral with your colors and plan to go room to room rather than tackling the whole project.
4) Think about your fixtures: Are your kitchen and bath cabinets looking a little tired? They can often be re-finished or painted and I’ve seen people work miracles with new pulls and hardware. Dated light and plumbing fixtures require moderate mechanical ability to replace but again this can be done over time, within a modest budget. YouTube has some great DIY videos on this topic.
5) Hire a home inspector: Your buyer certainly will, but you might ask, “What does this have to do with home staging?” Quite simply, a certified inspection report complimented by repairs conducted in a professional manner will render your home more desirable. The laws of attraction don’t always rely on visual ques exclusively, transparency and convenience can be equally appealing. I’ve written more on this topic here.
Again, this post has been primarily written for the “near-future” home seller and assumes that you’ve got a few months to work with as well as ambition and moderate mechanical abilities. As you get closer to marketing your home there will be finer details to address but this list will give you a good head start. Of course, life does have its’ surprises and you may find yourself in a pinch for time. Depending on your resources there are many effective strategies for that circumstance too. Regardless, find a skilled agent qualified to coach you through these decisions, you’ll find yourself a lot better off in the end.