Whether you’re thinking of listing your home (I know a guy by the way), or just getting it in tip-top shape for the warmer months, staging provides a great opportunity to inexpensively increase the appeal (and value) of your home.
When homeowners think of staging, they’re probably remembering their favourite HGTV show where truckloads of other peoples furniture and decor come in and transform your comfy home into a design museum – for a significant cost. In reality, any little bit of touching up that you do to your home can help increase the value by upping the “showability” factor, making it more appealing to potential buyers as they visit.
So as you dive in to prep mode, I thought I’d share 6 easy hacks often overlooked by Sudbury homeowners in my real estate career.
1. The Front Yard
The vast majority of the focus on staging lies in the interior of the house, with furniture, decor, and aesthetics taking the centre stage. But what about the curb-appeal? As a Realtor® it’s the first thing we notice when we drive up to a house. Buyers can often tell roughly how well a house will show before they even set foot in it – it really sets the mood for the showing.
If you’re in the snowy months in Sudbury, make sure you’re driveway is shovelled perfectly and well lit. If you’ve got an interlocked driveway or walkway, make sure they’re spotless too – these are valuable features that should not be overlooked despite some snow cover.
In the greener months, spend a few dollars and get some nice outdoor potted plants, make sure gardens are neat and weeded, and for goodness sake, cut your lawn! If you’ve anticipated your house selling early enough, replace any major weedy areas or dead spots in the grass. Also, make sure your walkways are nice and level, and as clean as possible, consider a coat of paint on your front door if it needs it, and check for any peeling paint on fences or decks. Trust me, it’ll be worth it when the buyer pulls into the house and says “wow” before they even step foot inside.
2. Re-purposed Rooms
I know we all have to adjust to the spaces we live in, and sometimes that extra bedroom seems like the perfect place to store canned goods, but when it comes time to sell, try and make it a bedroom again. As much as buyers have imagination, when you’ve lined up 5 homes to see, and yours is the last one of the day, the excitement can dwindle and the imagination along with it. Spaces like offices and bedrooms can easily be interchanged, but focus on making each room look like what it was intended for. Please, no more dining room tables in the bedrooms!
3. Sparkle and Shine
I know, you’re a pro when it comes to cleaning your house, but let me tell you, there’s a huge difference when you walk into a clean house, and a spotless one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard buyers say “You can tell they really take care of their home” just before they say “Let’s write an offer”. The impression a really clean house makes goes a long way toward instilling confidence that the house is in good repair.
So when it comes to cleaning, either up your game to the next level, or hire a professional cleaner (preferably small-business local of course!). I know keeping your house tidy during showings is maybe the hardest part, but chances are you’ll be doing that for a far shorter period of time if you go from clean to spotless.
4. Don’t be Nose Blind
During a showing, there is no bigger distraction than a smelly house. Now, let me be clear – there’s two sides to “smelly”. First, there’s the one where something like the smell from your child’s hockey bag looms through the entire basement, or your precious feline has just left a surprise for you in the corner. But there’s also the other end – the “I love plug-in air fresheners” side, where the buyer walks in and get blasted in the nose with vanilla spice.
Let me first remind you that air-fresheners in general are potentially dangerous as pointed out in my “How To Spring Clean Green” article, so my recommendation is to steer clear altogether, but if you insist, please use in moderation. What you’ve got used to may be too strong for many – and if you think that the air freshener is going to overpower the smell of mold, mildew, or cat – it’s not.
So what do you do? Well, for our first example, try removing the items that, frankly, stink, before showings. If you can find a way to eliminate the odour, do it. And if you’re not sure if something smells funny, ask a neighbour to come over and be honest – not like a “Does this dress make me look fat?” honest, but like a “Yeah it kind of does” honest.
Also, instead of air fresheners, shoot for cracking open a window or two in the warmer months, buy some cut flowers, bake something awesome, or use a drop or two (max) of a lightly smelling essential oil in a diffuser.
So simple, so inexpensive, yet so important. After decluttering (which you always need to do before selling), paint is often my next recommendation. A fresh coat of paint, even if just in the main areas (kitchen, living room, rec room) can hide imperfections caused by your childs artwork, or that awesome 80’s family photo (please take it down before showings). But what’s more, it allows you to modernize the feel of your home by using modern colour trends – just don’t go too “out there. I once recommended to a seller to paint, only to come back to find he chose “fire engine red” for the bedroom – not cool. If you’re local to Sudbury, your first stop should be Barrydowne Paint a locally owned and operated staple in our community. They’ll guide you along the right path to painting bliss, and help us reel in the perfect buyer.
6. Be Proud of the Rock
This one is Sudbury-specific. There are hundreds, if not thousands of homes with exposed rock in the basement in our area. Over my career I’ve learned that you’re (almost) never going to completely stop water from coming in the basement. There are just too many cracks, crevices, expansion differences, etc. to create a perfect seal with the foundation. You can, however, control the water flow, and help make that space functional.
Try and locate the main areas of water seepage, and re-route them to a drain by channelling. If you can successfully do this, then you open up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to functionality. I’ve seen many Sudburians build custom shelving, use the rock bed as a garden, tastefully decorate the rock, and even once saw a house that had a model train set up through the “mountains”.
The bottom line is that the rock is there, it’s not going away, so do your best to keep the water out of the living areas, and get creative with the space – trust me, buyers will be much more accepting if it’s used properly.
I’ve come across so many different situations in my career where potential sellers have asked “Should I do <<insert reno here>> before selling?”, and the ultimate answer is that it depends on a number of factors and is unique to each house, however, by following the 5 hacks above, I know you’ll vastly increase your chances of landing that perfect buyer sooner rather than later!
P.S. – If you want more tips like these, personalized to your home, just drop me a line – I’ll be happy to give you some ideas free of charge!