You may think you know how to prepare your home for sale. You know all about:
- painting the walls in neutral colors,
- trimming the shrubs,
- removing the clutter, and
- cleaning until you’re exhausted.
You know you need to remove the family photos. Maybe you’ve done all these things and priced your house attractively, but it’s still not selling.
If so, you may be missing some fine points. Consider these strategies:
1) Remove the visual clutter.
Wait a minute, you say. I threw away all the loose papers and books and put all the knickknacks in storage. I’m done, right? Not necessarily. If you have too many small furniture pieces in your room, the result will be visually cluttered even if everything is in its place. A few attractive, well-proportioned pieces with clean lines give an impression of calm and organization.
A hodgepodge of paintings and prints can cause the same problem. If you want to use a collection of photos or artwork, put all the works in identical frames and arrange them in a simple geometric shape. This will cause the eye to read them as one item. If there are too many places to look, your buyer won’t come away with a clear impression of the beauty and functionality of your home.
2) Avoid the too-neutral look.
Yes, you should paint your walls in neutral colors. Yes, you should discard or cover that massive purple sofa. But if your walls are off white, your sofa tan, and every other surface tan, brown, or beige, buyers won’t be impressed. Buyers often start their search with internet photos. Off-white walls with neutral furniture often create a look that says boring and photographs badly, discouraging buyers from visiting in person. The fix is simple. Add a few brightly colored pillows or placemats, a collection of colorful chunky candles or some patterned valances. Most rooms look better with a pop of color and a bit of pattern. Just be sure your colors harmonize and create an overall theme.
3) Bring some nature indoors.
The biggest mistake most sellers make is to create a room that looks like a stage set instead of a home. The solution is as simple as adding a few well-chosen green plants or some fresh cut flowers. Studies have shown that just looking at green growing things reduces blood pressure and induces a state of calm. This is just what you want your buyers to feel—that they’ve found the perfect refuge from all the hustle and bustle of their daily lives.
4) If your furniture doesn’t fit, put it in storage and borrow or rent something that does.
Sofas blocking the fireplace and massive headboards blocking the windows are major mistakes. Windows and fireplaces are almost always desirable features. Don’t cover them up. If your window has an unattractive view, add a sheer curtain, but don’t block the light.
5) Don’t leave rooms empty.
If you’ve sold some furniture in preparation for your move, you may have one or more empty spaces. Buyers are often short on imagination and they may not know what to do with a room unless you show them. Staging an empty room can be as simple as putting a table and chair against one wall to show a possible use as an office.
6) Don’t overkill the fragrance
A pleasant fragrance of vanilla or cinnamon (or even lemon and/or clean scent) may help sell your home. But if the scent is too strong, your buyer may be turned off or feel manipulated. Fragrance should be subtle—just barely perceptible is best.
Once you’ve done all these things, ask a friend to tour you home and be brutally honest about anything that gives a bad impression. No home is perfect, but making your home the best it can be will help you get top dollar.