DARIEN, Conn. – We are in the height of the real estate spring market and there are numerous homes coming up for sale every week. So how can you best present your home in this competitive environment? I have five suggestions that will help you put your home's best foot forward.
First, wash and strip the windows. Nothing brings the light in more than clean windows; they really make a house feel fresh and new. Make sure you hire a professional or do it yourself with the proper equipment – ammonia, newspaper and a squeegee. Remove any heavy draperies, swags and valances. Today's buyer wants windows free of heavy overhangs. You might even consider taking everything off to really show the room's light and moldings.
Second, and probably most important, de-clutter. This means removing all but the basics from countertops, end tables, bookshelves and walls. It might also be helpful to remove some of the furniture to make a room flow better or provide a proper conversation area. I love to help a client redo their home with their existing furnishings. I call it "use-what-you-have decorating" and it's amazing how a home can be transformed in just a few hours without a single purchase. Some people like to do this even if they aren't moving. It gives a home a fresh new feel.
Third, empty your closets. Since you'll be moving soon, pack up at least 50 percent of each closet. Buyers are very concerned with storage in their new home and if you are bursting at the seams, they won't feel your home has enough room for their things. If, however, each closet feels roomy and half empty, they will feel that there is plenty of great space for their family.
Fold and arrange your linens in an orderly fashion and cover up any medicines. You don't want buyers to think of ailments but rather restful nights of sleep and hot showers. And this includes the kitchen cabinets. Take half of what you have, whether it's dishes or food, and box the kitchen items and donate the extra food to a local food pantry. I love to arrange a homeowner's pantry to show various meals. For example, boxes of spaghetti with jars of sauce give the idea of a yummy pasta meal with family around the kitchen table. Or cereal, lined up with the best labels forward, reminds people of kids eating breakfast at the island counter. Or marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars make a buyer think of s'mores with the gatherings by the outdoor fire pit.
Fourth, neaten up the outside. Edge the flowerbeds and mulch. Nothing cleans up a house and tightens it up like fresh mulch. And de-clutter here, too. The best foundation landscaping is a row of boxwoods, simple and elegant. If you have too much in front of a house, the buyer thinks of clutter rather than simplicity, and most buyers today are focused on simple, clean lines. So remove excess plants, simplify beds and of course, stay ahead of any weeds. And arrange outdoor furniture in rooms for dining, conversation and relaxing. Add some colorful pillows to remind buyers of lounging on a summer day.
And finally, set the stage for the buyer to feel right at home. I suggest that sellers leave the TV on, set to a classical music channel at a low volume. This gives a home a feeling of depth and stability. Leaving a sports station on in the den or playroom reminds the husband that this will be his place to watch his favorite team. Remove as many personal photos as possible or have them all clustered in one place. That way the buyers can see themselves in your home. Finally, bake cookies before a showing – who doesn't like the smell of freshly baked cookies? Even if you have to heat a scoop of store-bought cookie dough in the microwave as you run out the door.
For more tips on staging your home for sale, stay tuned here.