Going the extra mile to spruce up a home and make sure it looks like a million bucks is a home seller’s first, best step towards finding a buyer. Homeowners might think they’ll need to spend a bundle, but many projects don’t require a lot of money. These ideas will work with any budget.
Display the Best Features of Your Home
Whether they’re gazing out a car window or looking at a photo on a smartphone or tablet, the first view prospective buyers have of your home probably will be from the street. As a seller, your goal is to impress them so much with your home’s curb appeal that they want to know more. If you fail to do this, buyers simply will go on to the next property.
“You only have one chance to make a first impression, and you want it to be a good one, one that a buyer will remember,” says Donna L. Stoutenburg of Artistic Endeavors 4 U, a staging and redesign company based in Streamwood, Illinois. “It’s imperative that your house looks good from the street.”
9 Inexpensive Projects to Increase Curb Appeal
1. Make sure exterior walls are not chipping or dirty. If there’s any dirt or grime, consider power washing.
2. If window treatments or furniture can be seen from outside your home, ensure that they complement the exterior.
3. Remove unsightly items that distract from your home’s overall appearance like toys, debris and dead vegetation.
4. Trim the lawn and pull any weeds.
5. If you have a mailbox, clean or replace it. Also make sure the house numbers are recent, legible and match the architecture’s design aesthetic.
6. Utility boxes often can be seen from the street and almost always look obnoxious, so camouflage them by painting them the same color as your home.
7. Repaint the front door.
8. When seasonally appropriate, add flowers to planters to create memorable splashes of color.
9. Sweep or shovel the entrance and all walkways.
Want to really impress? Stoutenburg tells her clients to paint their walkways. Although special paints are required, the process is straightforward. “Scrub the area thoroughly, give it a good acid wash and let it dry. Apply a coat of primer, then the colored paint and you’ve updated this (exterior) space,” she says. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you start: Stoutenburg cautions that successfully completing this project requires a sunny day with no wind.
Cook Up Something Memorable
Because members of a household spend so much time in the kitchen, this room requires special attention, according to Leslie Molloy, a Certified Kitchen Designer and residential designer at Normandy Remodeling in Hinsdale, Illinois. “People want to move into something that’s ready, and minor tweaks can really help a lot,” she says.
Patricia Marie Kelly of Marie Kelly Unlimited, a home staging and interior redesign firm based in Algonquin, Illinois, agrees, and emphasizes that kitchens are an area where clutter is a no-no. “No one wants to smell, see or view your dirty laundry … or a week’s worth of dishes piled in the sink or last night’s dinner in the garbage,” Kelly says.
4 Quick Kitchen Staging Suggestions
1. Repaint cabinets that are an outdated color like olive green or harvest gold.
2. Replace knobs and finishes on cabinets and drawers.
3. Remove magnets, postcards and school artwork from refrigerator doors.
4. If you have a little more to spend, consider replacing appliances and, possibly, installing a new granite or composite counter.
3 Simple Ways to Make a Bathroom Shine
1. “A lot of times bathroom fixtures are simply construction grade,” Stoutenburg says — meaning they’re functional but uninspired. For example, many bathrooms have “Hollywood” lights — a line of a half dozen or more exposed bulbs above the mirror that make you feel as if you’re getting ready for your close-up. She says that although there are kits that can simply cover up this dated fixture, the lights are not that expensive to replace.
2. Want to quickly stage a bathroom and make it look more upscale? “Remove the shower curtain, replace it with (just) a liner and add a floor-to-ceiling drape,” Stoutenburg suggests. “The drape would be made of linen or a similar fabric.” Use a tension rod to secure the drape.
3. Nothing emphasizes an outdated bathroom like a color toilet. “You can replace that for about $125 or so,” Stoutenburg says.
When It’s OK to Be Boring in the Bedroom
This is one room where private tastes quickly become public atrocities if not carefully staged. Surprisingly, Barb Schwarz of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals suggests borrowing a lesson she credits to Disneyland and Disney World, where placement of everything is carefully considered to convey a harmonious experience. When staging bedrooms, that means removing anything that would prevent a prospective buyer from seeing themselves in that bedroom.
4 Easy Expert Bedroom Staging Tips
1. Remove all evidence of hobby clutter. Schwarz has made clients deep-six golf ball collections, teddy bears, Hollywood memorabilia — and even Disney character posters.
2. Avoid bold, shocking colors. Many parents allow their children to decide what color to paint their bedroom walls, and the result is what you’d expect. Repaint in neutral tones.
3. Clean the carpet or the floors.
4. If you notice at the last minute that your favorite bedspread is torn or has a small stain, consider either flipping it over or adding strategically placed throw pillows or an extra blanket.
3 Details to Add to Any Room
Accessorize. Accessorize. Accessorize! It’s the little touches that can really make a big difference in every room.
1. Spice up a dull living room or den by adding a few throw pillows in fresh colors.
2. Enliven your home with strategically placed plants. If they’re real, make sure they’re healthy. Artificial plants can look surprisingly lifelike these days, too.
3. Want to make sure prospective buyers appreciate a room with a tall ceiling? Place tasteful, neutral artwork near the top so visitors look all the way up.
Follow these strategies and with just a little cash and elbow grease, you’ll ensure that your home is the one that prospective buyers will want to see again.
Read more: Prepare Your Home for Photos and Visitors