We live in a word of reality TV, and home improvement shows are 24/7. Every buyer is HGTV trained, and they drool over cosmetic appeal. What can a homeowner do on a budget to have buyers stampeding your door?
- Kitchens sell homes. Without having to do a whole kitchen remodel, what’s important? All the flips advertise granite countertops and new appliances. Granite is losing favor because it scratches, stains and cracks. There are a plethora of laminates with a Hi Definition photo quality without the extreme price. Freshen kitchen cabinets with a coat of paint. There are water based paints just for that, they don’t streak, leave brush marks and clean up easily for about $30 a gallon. You shouldn’t need more than a gallon. Update cabinet hardware for a more modern look.
- Your front door welcomes guests and buyers. If the door is rough, think about replacing it. If it’s a great door but needs help, freshen it up with a coat of colorful paint. Hang a floral wreath, or have a pot of colorful foliage to entice a buyer to look inside. The entry should be clear, open, and ideally have a small bench where someone can scootch to take off their shoes before dancing all over your freshly polished floors. Make sure that the front door lock works easily, or replace it. I’ve been locked out by sticky old locks, and the buyer missed an opportunity to see the home that could have been ‘the one.’
- The master bedroom should spell R E L A X. Think hotel. Neutral coverlets with a pile of pillows, clear dressers with one or two cosmetics, beckon buyers to cozy up. Old flat pillows, rumpled poorly made beds say that you don’t care and maybe the rest of the house needs work too. I had a client who left a body pillow under the quilt along the middle of the bed. It startled me because it looked like someone was asleep under the covers. Walking in on a sleeping body is very uncomfortable. It left.
- Equally, bathrooms should whisper, “This is your alone time.” Fresh fluffy towels, cosmetics cleared out, hair dryers, razors and toothbrushes hidden from view. Tubs and showers should glisten. No ducks or fish shower curtains, even the kid’s bath should be fresh and cheery without looking like SeaWorld.
- Let’s assume that your closets have gone full Marie Kondo. You’ve divested the clothes that don’t fit, you never really liked, and haven’t worn in 5 years. “I have nothing to wear,” means that you don’t love what you have, and it doesn’t make you look stunning. Clothes that you bought on sale thinking that you’ll wear someday, you won’t. They are cluttering your closet and your mind. Keep only what looks great, chuck, donate, or send the rest to a consignment shop. Buyers are looking for storage space, give closets breathing room.
- Light and lighting play an important part in how your home looks. Burnt out bulbs, heavy drapes, closed blinds make spaces look closed in. A bright light filled room looks more spacious and welcoming than dark spaces. Even the utility room should have lights on to see what’s there. It’s annoying to have to search for light to see anything in the basement and leaves the impression that there could be hidden problems. Let the sunshine in!
- Whether the basement is finished or not, it should be cleared and open, floors cleaned, storage highlighted. If it is unfinished, buyers are hoping that at least part of it is easily finishable. They expect you to have things stored, so we’re calling Marie Kondo again to organize it. Make sure that windows are uncovered and there is enough light to see comfortably.
- Landscaping is often overlooked. Complicated high maintenance gardens frighten buyers because most are looking for low maintenance. A charming arrangement by the front door is welcoming. If you’re selling off season, have photos from last summer so they can appreciate it in full bloom, and see themselves enjoying it. If you have snow or leaf covered decks and patios, summer photos help clarify size, and how much fun you must have had without the snow.
There are a few things that are buyer turn offs for buyers as well. Too many Glade air freshener plugins means a cover-up. Cosmetics cluttered all over the bedroom or bathrooms, animal smells (no dog owner smells their own dog), leftover cooking smells, closets crammed with ‘stuff’ signal the buyer to move on. Every buyer is looking for a new lifestyle with a home that meets how they imagine they want their new life to be. You want to invite buyers in saying, “This could be you, and you can have all of this.”
One Saturday morning I knocked, said "Hello," and followed by a family of 4 walked in on a man in the shower. He was livid!