Few things in life are as stressful, time consuming and all around unpleasant as selling your home. It’s labor intensive, expensive and emotional. It’s also when I get called in as a first offense: helping clients create beautiful rooms that maximize a home’s market appeal. I consulted with realtor to Boulder’s best, modern luxury listing agent at Remax/Alliance Jennifer Egbert on what really sells homes; not surprisingly, our notes matched up.
FIRST IMPRESSION– Jennifer encourages exciting buyers the moment they lay eyes on your house. You want to elicit an emotional reaction from prospective buyers, where they want the home even before stepping inside. Curb appeal (your home’s profile picture) includes not just the landscaping but also the sidewalk, garage and front door, numbers and mailbox. Fixing gutters or a roof ranks low on a buyer’s wish list, so take care of these items before putting your house on the market.
Once inside, the name of the game is clean and this clean is a professionally done move out scrubbing of everything. Re-caulk bathroom tiles, replace every visible lightbulb in the house, and make sure the windows are cleaned inside and out. Your home is your showcase, and you want it to sparkle.
Bookending clean is clutter, as in there should be none. Remove two thirds of stuff on every surface, paying special attention to all things personalized (more on this later), opting instead for a neat stack of books, a beautiful vase, an orchid, etc. Store children’s toys in plastic bins. If you’re stuck amongst your stuff, consider hiring professional organizers. Sheryl Hadley, CEO of Organization & Relocation and her team of mad genuises have helped me on numerous occasions purge, organize, and systematize.
UPDATE– For a house to perform competitively in the market, it must be up to date, and certain upgrades can be made more affordably than others. Countertops in Caesarstone or granite return huge for their cost, and appliances in stainless are, in the high-end market, a non-negotiable. Jennifer explains that buyers not only dislike having to update, but also overestimate the associated costs, seeing a $10,000 price tag when the reality is only half. Budget in additional updates to lighting (pendants and chandeliers) and hardware (knobs, pulls, handles).
Walls are another area requiring updating. Paint rooms a neutral color (greys work beautifully), don’t forget the trim and baseboards (bright white looks best), and remember that while you might prefer a few rooms to be dark and dramatic (I certainly do), your house must appeal to everyone. Jennifer prefers Benjamin Moore’s Horizon (for a grey) and Chantily Lace (for a white), and since I get paid for my paint recommendations, they’ll remain a secret. 😉
SPECIFY- I’ll put this gingerly: if buyers have imagination, most won’t apply it when looking through your house. Rather, they need to be told, visually, how each space is designated. Convert any spare rooms into ones with purpose. If your home comes with a formal living room that was never used, you should still dress it up to show buyers the potential. Ditto the home office, sun room, or extra bedroom. Your goal should be to alleviate any need for people to ask ‘what goes here’.
NEUTRALIZE– Definitely one of the biggest challenges for sellers is removing themselves from a home that is still technically theirs. On this point, Jennifer advises to leave emotions at your front door: buyers don’t want to see your family on the walls, they want to envision theirs. Too many personal touches don’t let the buyer mentally move in. Store photos, severe art, religious iconography, anything that will bring attention to itself (and away from the house).
EXTRAS– Let in the light by opening all blinds and turning on lamps in every room, minimize the existence of any household pets, verify (through a friend or neighbor’s nose) that your home doesn’t smell like anything. Replace the traditional chandelier bulb with round for a modern look. If your situation allows for staging and you have the budget, we both encourage hiring Heidi Garthwaite of Property Staging & Design.