Do it Yourself Staging advice from your Local Realtors
By Lia & Bill McNally
Every seller we meet expects to get top dollar for their home. While this is ideal, it doesn't magically happen. Buyers paying top dollar have higher expectations regarding the condition of your home. Fortunately, with some time and effort you can meet these expectations and reap the benefits. Not only will you get more money, but your home will likely sell faster- freeing you from the inconvenience of showings stretching out over months.
THE FIRST, MOST CRUCIAL STEP is to get into the right mindset. You must emotionally detach yourself from your home. Sure, you may have accumulated a lot of great memories over the years and maybe you think that your orange bathroom looks just fine and perhaps you've learned to overlook those broken light fixtures. Well guess what? Prospective buyers will not overlook broken items, may not be able to get past your choice of colours and are not even slightly concerned with your emotionally attachment. If you want prospective buyers to make an offer on your home, you have to depersonalize it so they can picture themselves living there. Remember, you are trying to appeal to as many people as possible!
Sorting, getting rid of clutter & preliminary packing. The goal here is to make your home appear more organized, more spacious and to get a jump start on packing.
-Get boxes- lots of them, and some garbage bags too.
-Set aside boxes for charity or a garage sale, boxes of things you're going to take to your new home and boxes/bags for garbage.
-Be ruthless! If you haven't worn it, or used it in years, get rid of it! Same goes for clothes that don't fit or are dated, books you'll never read, magazines, dishes, extra blenders, outgrown toys etc. Donate them to charity and feel good about yourself.
-Pack up all family photos, sentimental items, knick knacks, out of season clothing, and things you can do without until you move.
-Go through this process for every room, closet, the basement and the garage.
-Have a garage sale with the things you've decided to get rid of. But for crying out loud, if it doesn't sell do not bring it back in the house. Put a "free" sign at the end of your driveway and wait for the rest of it to get picked over. Then, take any leftovers straight to a charity. Of course, you can skip the garage sale all together and take your old stuff straight to the Salvation Army.
-Consider renting a storage unit or borrowing space in a friend's garage to store the boxes of things you have packed up for the move. Piling them in your own garage or basement will make the space seem cramped.
Deep Cleaning. Now that you've gotten rid of all the clutter it's time to bring on the elbow grease! If you are too busy or unable, look in the phone book and hire someone to do it for you.
-Start from top to bottom so gravity doesn't dirty up where you've already cleaned.
-Light fixtures: clean and make sure they all have working bulbs.
-Windows: inside and out, screens, tracks and sills. Wash curtains and thoroughly clean all blinds.
-Walls: wash and remove all scuff marks. Try a magic eraser for tough areas- they really work wonders. Don't forget the baseboards.
-Closets: wash the walls, get rid of any odors, hang everything up neatly, fold things carefully, clear off the floor, and if you want to go the extra mile, group like colours together.
-Kitchen: Clean the cupboards, inside and out. Clear everything off the counters to make it appear spacious. No appliances, spice racks, oven mitts, etc. allowed! Clean the backsplash, the appliances- inside and out, use a mild bleach solution to get rid of stains on the counters and in the sink, make sure all the chrome surfaces like the faucet sparkle.
-Bathrooms: clean dirty grout, clean out and organize the cupboards, make sure there isn't a spot of mold, mildew, or lime scale anywhere, clean the toilet- inside and out, make sure the counter tops, sink and taps shine. Put away everything: buyers don't want to see hair appliances, beauty products, toothbrushes, 15 different types of shampoo in your shower, extra rolls of toilet paper etc.
-Wash the floors. Do this by hand so you can get into the corners, behind the toilet etc.
-Vacuum the carpets and consider having them professionally cleaned if you haven't had it done in awhile.
-Wash all throw rugs and bathmats.
-Bedrooms: Dust all furniture, make sure your bed is made and your linens are clean. Don't leave hampers visible and clean all clothing and everything else up off the floor. Make sure to put away all the things that accumulate on your dressers: spare change, receipts, hair brushes etc.
-Basement: since you've already cleared out the clutter you can sweep the floors, wipe the dust off the furnace and air it out if it's damp.
-Garage: Clean and sweep to make it appear as large as possible.
-Outside- power wash decks and siding. Clean your front door, steps etc.
The finishing touches. Now that your house is free from clutter and sparkling clean, it's time to address decorating and minor repairs and updating.
-Consider the colours throughout your home. It's easier for buyers to picture themselves living in your home if the colours are light and neutral. If you are unsure of what colour to choose, consider dropping by the local Benjamin Moore store, located in the Georgetown Marketplace. The staff there is very helpful and will be able to recommend suitable shades.
-Pick up some fresh, plush towels for the bathrooms to add a touch of luxury, but don't use them!
-Many people have too much furniture. Make your rooms feel more spacious by paring down. Store bookcases and extra chairs. Make sure rooms are easy to maneuver without excess furniture impeding the flow.
-Make sure the outside of your house is inviting. This is especially important because buyers who are turned off by the exterior may choose not to come inside. Plant flowers, weed and prune overgrown gardens, trim your bushes, make sure your grass is cut in the warmer weather and the snow and ice is cleared from the sidewalks in the cold.
-Replace special chattels that you plan on taking with you. If you are particularly attached to your chandelier, for instance, keep it out of sight and out of mind. You don't want to get a buyer's heart set on something she can't have and blow the whole deal over it.
-If your bedspreads are worn out, consider replacing them.
-Oil the squeaks out of hinges and make all those little repairs that you never got around to, like the running toilet, leaky faucet etc... Buyers notice these things.
-If your kitchen hasn't been updated in decades, give it an inexpensive facelift by painting the cupboards (again, consult the experts) and replacing the countertops. This is a very cost effective way to appeal to buyers.
Setting the Mood
Now that you've gone through the list, you can pat yourself on the back because all the hard work is done. The only thing left is optimizing the showing experience for prospective buyers.
-Turn on all the lights, even the lamps to make your home appear more spacious.
-Play soft music at a low volume.
-Bake something delicious so your house smells great. We had clients who would make a pot roast in their slow cooker before open houses and buyers delighted at the smell. A bread maker or a batch of fresh cookies are also great options. Or course, the opposite is also true- avoid strong cooking smells, like onions, garlic and curry before showings as well.
We hope you've found the tips in this article to be useful. Please contact local Halton Hills realtors, Bill or Lia McNally at 905-299-0648, for more information on do-it-yourself staging or real estate in general. Of course, do-it-yourself staging isn't for everyone. If that's the case for you, we can recommend professional home stagers who will transform your house from ordinary to spectacular!