Once a house is actually on the market for sale, the current owners can be so fatigued with the process that staging the home is an after-thought. In large markets, designers have answered this apathy with turn-key home staging services. These “interior stylists” have made a science of taking your old home – now devoid of photos and mementos – and transforming it into a well-appointed, neutral oasis.
A prospective home buyer wants to “see” themselves in the space; something which can only be achieved if the space engages their imagination. Sound impossible? It really isn’t.
Aside from the necessary investments in cleaning and repairs, there are plenty of ways you can leave a distinct impression on potential buyers by playing to your property’s strengths, sans an expensive stylist or designer.
InsideOut caught up with Cayman Islands top realtor Mike Joseph of PropertyCayman RE/MAX, who shared his tried and true tricks for home staging:
InsideOut: What do you feel is the most important thing to consider when staging your home?
Mike Joseph: There are numerous factors that all work in tandem, however, cleanliness really is key, followed by a clutter-free home.
IO: What big ticket items are worth investing in prior to putting your home on the market?
MJ: Kitchens, floors, and bathrooms are the big ticket items that are most important for value and lifestyle. You can gather quotes to make life easier for a prospective buyer if you’d rather not spend the funds, but know that a dated home will only encourage a buyer to negotiate you down. It is always advisable to maintain and upgrade your home gradually over time or suffer the consequences of style and value depreciation. Above all, whatever your budget any effort to clean, declutter, and freshen the property will go a long way.
IO: How important is curb appeal?
MJ: It is hugely important. First impressions count. Remember, it is not just your home but the neighbors’ homes too that will also impress buyers. Keep up with the Joneses!
IO: How would you go about decluttering a room, without sacrificing personality?
MJ: Thin out your personal effects and mute any unique wall colors. You want to de-clutter the space to a point that allows the prospective buyer to imagine themselves and their family in your home. A muted color tone will be far more palatable to a larger sector of the market than a uniquely furnished or brightly painted home.
IO: What is the most common mistake homeowners make when showing their homes?
MJ: Everyone has different techniques when it comes to sales. The most common mistake is assuming the buyer has no clue about home ownership and that you know everything. Respect the buyer, don’t state the obvious, and educate yourself on the market.
IO: If you don’t have the funds, what inexpensive improvements do you suggest people should make?
MJ: Cleaning goes a long way. Re-upholstering older and worn-out furniture, painting rooms with fresh paint and even caulking all help to clean up the general appearance and feel of the home. Additionally, don’t forget the outside of your home. Make sure you trim back and water plants and smarten up all landscaped areas.
IO: What about pets?
MJ: Ideally, there should be no pets at the home during a viewing. Additionally, there shouldn’t be any pet odors either. Cats are ok, and leaving a dog bowl out is fine too; it is a family home after all, but a barking, over-excited dog isn’t a good way to start a showing.
IO: Should a homeowner be at home to answer questions during a viewing, or leave it to the real estate agent?
MJ: Your sales agent should be there and should also be highly educated on all aspects of the home and market. The owners should be out of sight. A prospective buyer will feel uncomfortable with the owner essentially judging them as they inspect the home. Never a good vibe in these situations.
IO: Any other small touches that can really help sell a home?
MJ: Soft music and freshly-baked cookies on the counter with a note welcoming your guests make any showing more special. Flowers are also a nice touch. Avoid scented candles – they are often too strong. Before any showing make sure you open up all blinds and curtains, clean all the windows and trim back any foliage. You want to maximize the light coming into your home.
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