One of the biggest complaints I hear from buyers is that they “just can’t picture themselves living here.” As a seller, there are several things you can do to make your home warm and inviting, thereby helping potential buyers envision themselves making the house a home. (There IS a difference…a huge one.)
1. Start with a clean slate
Before you can even think about details, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Honestly, they’re the first thing I notice in a home. If they are dirty or have handprints, it makes buyers think the entire house has been neglected.
2. Hide your clutter
It’s hard for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and kids’ school books/toys. You’ll want to store your personal items and decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles, coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of www.StagedHomes.com in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.
3. Scale back on your furniture
When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller. As much as you might love Grandpa Dave’s big blue recliner that sits in the middle of the living room, you need to move it. Smaller rooms translate into smaller offers. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.
4. Rethink your furniture placement
Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.
5. Add color to brighten your rooms
Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.
6. Set the scene
Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home—such as a chess game in progress—to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.
Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items out of sight). If you have a strange odor, try boiling water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.
7. Make the entrance grand
This is a tough one in the winter since the melting snow makes things dirty looking. Small tricks such as buying a new doormat and hanging a season wreath can go a long way in brightening up an entrance. If you have flower pots that are sitting empty, buy some artificial flowers and use them until your area thaws out for spring.