By Barbara Pronin
First impressions count – and experienced real estate professionals know that a clean, attractively organized home will pique buyer interest and sell more quickly than its neighbors.
“Clients tend to focus not on what the house could potentially become, but on how it looks on their first walk-through,” said Kathy Murphy, a top-performing agent with in Royal Oak, Mich. “If the front door is peeling, or the kitchen is a mess, that’s the way they will remember it.”
Staging a home to show at its best can make a remarkable difference. That’s why most agents work with their sellers to help create maximum appeal. Effective home staging can be accomplished without excessive effort or expense. The work should begin before the listing photos are taken, so that buyers are intrigued when they view the home online.
Listing agents can broaden their staging know-how with these tips from home staging experts:
- Start at the street – Curb appeal is more than a catchphrase. Advise your sellers to be sure the lawn is mowed, flowerbeds are neat, bikes and trash cans are stashed away. Paint, replace, or clean the front door as needed, and set off a drab entry area with a potted plant or two.
- Freshen the entryway – The second most important impression begins just inside the front door. Lights should be on, the area neat, and a vase of fresh flowers on a foyer table is a nice touch.
- Get rid of clutter – Most homes have too much furniture and far too many accessories. Suggest your seller rearrange the furniture to create better traffic flow, and consider putting a quarter of it in storage. Thin out bookcases and closets, because jam-packed spaces give the impression they are too small.
- Keep it neutral – Sellers love their collections of figurines or bowling trophies, but buyers need to envision the home filled with the things they love. A savvy seller will keep it simple and consider repainting colorful interior walls in neutral tones.
- Clean, clean, clean – Kitchens and bathrooms should be scrubbed and counters kept clear. Wet towels, hair dryers, and dishes in the sink are a no-no. If heavy cleaning is a burden to the seller, suggest an affordable cleaning crew to clean the carpets and make the windows sparkle – even steam-clean a dingy exterior.
- Fix what’s broken – A leaky faucet or a wobbly railing may not seem like a big deal, but it makes buyers wonder what else is wrong with the home.
- Remember the back yard – Be sure it’s tidy and that the swimming pool, if there is one, is sparkling clean.
- On showing days – A pot of potpourri simmering on the stove and a dining table set with attractive tableware are inviting and cost-effective touches.
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.