How to effectively 'show' your
Showing your home is a lot like a first date: You
get your house all gussied up, put the prettiest face possible on
the property and try to impress the heck out of someone you barely
know -- the potential buyer. The objective, however, is not to get
a phone number or a peck on the cheek. It's to make a sale, which
in most cases, is a far greater challenge.
But showing a home does not have
to be an overwhelming, costly process. Regardless of your home's
size, age, style, and location, there are ways to spruce it up and
effectively showcase its assets. So grab your paintbrush, carpet
cleaner, lawn mower, and Lysol -- the four ingredients to a great
first date -- and get to work on your house.
The condition of your home is one of three factors
that influence a buyer's decision, says Judy Wakeley, an accredited
staging professional and owner of Refined
Spaces, a real estate staging and interior redesign company
based in Westchester, Pa., and Lewes, Del. "Unlike location,
this is one factor you can control," she says. But the idea
is "not to improve the condition of your home to your liking,
but to improve it to sell it."
There are four main areas of the home sellers should focus
on, according to Lori Matzke, owner of Center
Stage Home, a home presentation company based in Minneapolis, Minn. The first
is the entryway. "That is your first impression of the house. Anything visible
from this standpoint needs to look great," Matzke says. "If you don't
impress them immediately it will be an uphill battle from then on to regain their
interest." The family/living room, kitchen, and master bedroom are the three
other crucial areas.
The key to showcasing these rooms is
to create good flow. "Buyers want to move easily from one room to the next,"
she says. But at the same time, they need direction. "It's important to assign
each room a purpose -- a commonplace purpose," she says. "Even though
you may use your formal dining room as your office, you must show the dining room
with its intended purpose."
Sellers should personalize the experience for the buyer. "The
buyers have to be able to see past your life and your stuff so they can visualize
what it would be like for them to live in your home," says Allyson Bernard,
regional vice president for the National Association of Realtors' New England
region. "Minimizing clutter and packing up personal belongings helps them
There are two schools of thought on de-personalizing
your home. "A lot of people say to take down the family photos,
but I disagree. You're not fooling anyone by pretending you don't
live there," says Matzke. She does, however, recommend that
wedding and graduation photos, as well as collections (i.e. stuffed
animals, teapots), be removed. "Those are too personal,"
Wakely, on the other hand, believes anything that
could potentially pose a distraction should be put away. "Buyers only spend
10 to 15 minutes in a home. You don't want them to be distracted by unimportant
details like personal mementos. That won't help you sell your house," she
Cleanliness is godliness
At the same time, it's not possible to fully neutralize a home that's
being occupied. Furthermore, "vacant houses do not show well.
A room looks smaller without furniture and stuff in it," says
Wakeley. But it must be understood that each person has a different
sense of style. That style is often reflected in the type of furniture
one chooses and in the way that it is arranged. "As long as
the house is clean and well-maintained, buyers can look beyond the
purple bathroom or the floral wallpaper in the bathroom, which might
not be their style," says Bernard.