Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Show Me The Space, I'll Show You The Money!

When we live in our homes, we surround ourselves with things that make us happy - pictures of loved ones, favorite places, gifts.  We put things where they make sense and are readily available for everyday use.  We make our homes comfortable and convenient.  But when it's time to put your home on the market, you have to make a decision.  Do you want top dollar for your home?  Then you must be willing to give up some comfort and convenience in exchange so that your home shows its best at all times.  Here are some tips to make that happen.
Step #1: Show Me The Space, I'll Show You The Money!

Much like a model will have portfolio shots in a bathing suit, we need to strip your home down to the bare essentials. (Play striptease music now.)

"Let There Be Light"

You have blinds and drapes up to keep people from looking in... but when your home is on the market is exactly when you want people to not only look in but come in.  So, we need to thin out window treatments.  Remove screens, wash windows, remove heavy drapes. Open blinds or remove them. Consider leaving sheers or valances, just to add a splash of color or accent, but make sure you can see out and the light can get in.  This creates a bright happy space and it always makes rooms look larger.
Next, let's talk floors.

Usually an area rug's purpose is to protect the floor underneath.  When it's time to put your home on the market its time to show off those floors that you have so valiantly protected over the years.  So in most cases runners and area rugs should be pulled to expose the floors beneath.  Rugs take up visual space.... so the only time I use them in staging is when the room is otherwise cavernous or has no color. 

Important Never-Never Notes: (1) Never leave carpet in a bathroom. (2) Never leave an area rug on a carpeted area.   These always get negative comments from buyers.

Musical Chairs! 

Walk through the home as if you are a buyer.  Enter through the front door, and bring your entire family and a REALTOR with you...everyone walking side by side. This is how a buyer looks at your home. See how crowded everything is when 4 people try to walk through a home together? 

In an unstaged home, sometimes showing is remineiscent of a game of musical chairs where, as you walk through the home, it seems you are always standing directly in front of a chair you can sit in when the music stops. Not good. 

Move or remove all the furniture you touch. If it's crowding doorways, it's got to go. If you can't walk through walkways, say "bye bye" to the pieces that get in the way. Got furniture blocking windows or doors? Not good. Most rooms can, as a general rule, lose at least one piece of furniture, sometimes several.

Take the leaves from every table you can. If you have those larger dining room chairs with arms, hide them, quickly, even if you must borrow ugly chairs from your daughters house.

What's In A Room?

Buyers must be able to tell what the intended purpose of a room is by the first piece of furniture they see. Bed=bedroom; couch=living room; dining table=dining room; desk=office.

Avoid having beds in the den or desks in the bedroom. Unless you have dedicated "gym" space, originally intended to be gym space, then the treadmill has to be packed away. A treadmill in an office says "there's no space for a home gym in this house". A bedroom used as an office screams "this house has no office, and now no guest room".

Welcome the buyers to every room. (Huh?)

You won't be home when the buyers come (no, you shouldn't be home), so make sure every room is welcoming your buyers... the furniture should be turned to face them as they enter. The buyers shouldn't walk into a room to see the back of a couch, TV or other furniture... it should always be the front. Even pillows on a couch should be turned to "face" them - not the center of the room, but the doorway, as if they are saying "hi".
"As far as the eye can see" For a seller, there is much wisdom in thinking about this phrase.

Look at specifically what is eye level in your home. Buyers are measuring space with their visual perception, so what is that? Can you remove a hutch, a bookshelf, a canopy, a headboard? Consider putting away tall back chairs and keeping the stools, for example.

Generally, there should be no pictures of any kind in a hallway or stairway; and most walls are meant for only one picture....and only in the rarest occaisions should more than 3 pictures be on one wall. Pictures should be used sparingly and not be family pictures.

Get rid of doilies, table cloths, and the seat cushions on chairs (you know, the kind you tie in place). No lace, no frills. This includes the comfy blanket or hand made afgan from Aunt Betsy that is displayed on the back of the sofa.  Unless that blanket serves a strategic purpose, then it probably needs to be tucked away.

Trust me here, no one is looking at your beaten up old table or the cheap chairs. They are, however, looking to purchase the floors and space behind and beneath these things, so let them see the space. All this extra stuff is simply a distraction and they will think about your stuff, and not about your house.

Stay tuned, because this is only the beginning of this series.

Next up - "Knick Knack: You're Getting Wacked"
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