Friday, 7 August 2015

If you're planning on selling your home, it's a good idea to set aside some time to prepare your property before you put it on the market.

From decluttering rooms to pruning back shrubs, a little effort can go a long way, says Lori Matzke, CEO and founder of Home Staging Expert, a Minneapolis-based company that trains and certifies home stagers.

"You want to make your home more attractive to a buyer," Matzke says. "It's especially important now that so many homes have photos online—buyers don't even have to walk through your door to make a decision."

Matzke highlighted five crucial steps to ensuring your home looks its best for potential buyers.

1. Check out your competition

Before you contact a realtor, go online to check out homes that are for sale in your area. You can easily find that information on Zillow and other residential real estate websites.

You will get a good sense of the price range your home will be in. You also will have a sense of what is in demand. You might learn that the home down the street that sold so quickly had a newly-remodeled kitchen. The one that languished on the market for six months? It had an odd floor plan and was a mess inside. Which brings us to our next tip.

2. Get rid of clutter and depersonalize

Rent a storage locker, and empty your closets of half your stuff. Keep what's left neatly organized. As  HGTV notes, "Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of." Remove things from countertops, and make sure to store away personal photos and mementos. You want people to be able to imagine themselves living in your home. "People can see your house totally differently when it's not full of stuff," Matzke says.

3. Make strategic updates

Aim for the fast, inexpensive updates. Outdated kitchen cabinets? Paint them and replace the hardware. Use neutral colors so "you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style," HGTV suggests. Fix leaky faucets, replace frayed rugs and clean the grout.

4. Move around the furniture

"View your house from the entry point of each room," Matzke says. Orient your furniture so it looks good from the room's entrance, which is how potential buyers will see it. Then determine what features of each space you want to highlight.

For instance, Matzke staged a home for sellers who had a wall of beautiful art next to their fireplace. "You would miss the fireplace looking at the art," she says. "But we're not selling the art." Matzke took the art down, and placed some greenery around the mantle to highlight the fireplace and attract the buyers' attention. You can find a professional home stager to help give you other staging ideas.

5. Pay attention to lighting

"A nice, bright room has a cheerful feeling—that's the mood you're trying to create," Matzke says. Bring as much light into rooms as possible by taking down heavy drapes and hanging up sheer window coverings. Also update lampshades and dust off your light fixtures. "Just cleaning them brings in so much more light," she says.

6. Don't forget curb appeal

Many people will not even get out of their car if they don't like how the house looks from the outside. Mow the lawn, weed your garden, and clear the yard of bikes. Make sure the front door has a fresh coat of paint. "That's the first impression," Matzke says. Paint it a bright color or redo the stain, and make sure the porch lights are working.

An attractive home will likely sell more quickly and is less subject to price reductions, Matzke says. Putting the time in now to declutter, update, and stage your property will make it more enticing to prospective buyers—and put you on the fast track to your next place.


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