Get the good moves
By Glen Peloso
There is a strong bond between a home and its owners, and it is sometimes difficult for someone selling, to see any changes to their home as anything less than fantastic. In fact, homeowners are sometimes baffled by the fact that others don’t see their home exactly as they do. Often the house is associated with memories and letting go can be difficult. The first step is to stop seeing the house as yours, and to think of it as simply a product on the market.
Start with the front of the house – curb appeal. It is the first impression that people get when they arrive. Ensure that the house is well painted, the gardens look manicured and lawns are cut and neat. It is a smart idea to paint the front door a strong colour (red, yellow, orange, black or blue) as it helps people remember your house in the myriad of houses they have seen. It is also nice to have urns that clarify the walkway and the front door. Have flowers that are in bloom in your urns and gardens, as they instantly create a positive aura around the house. Remember that houses are usually bought and sold on emotion. It is a big purchase for most people and they want to feel happy about the choice, like it is the beginning of a new life!
Inside the house, the first step is to make sure that everything is clean and in good repair. You want the house to seem well cared for. Clean all windows inside and out, as this will impact the amount of natural light in your home. Make sure that you vacuum and dust daily during your showing period, and remove all the tell-tale signs of your life – no notes on the fridge, no kids’ dental appointments and sports schedules, no pile of mail and get rid of that cup filled with pens on the counter. Remove family photos that adorn tabletops or are taped to cupboards. Buyers want to feel as though they are seeing their new home, not intruding on yours. Make the space neutral.
Next, clean out the closets and the drawers in the kitchen. People will want to see how much space is available for them to store their things, so drawers filled with junk or overflowing closets leave the impression that the house lacks decent storage space. Clean, organized closets are everyone’s fantasy, so give prospective purchasers that impression!
Now, make sure that everything in the house is in good repair. If the lock on the front door doesn’t work well or the door sticks-fix it. If there are holes in a wall from the kids’ wrestling session, repair it. Make sure that every burned-out light bulb is replaced, as people don’t know the difference between bad bulbs and bad electrical work. If the paint in the house needs to be touched up or if the interior needs to be repainted-do it. Use neutral colours like off whites, greys and beiges to make sure that you won’t offend the tastes of potential buyers. It can seem like a big expense, however it is worth the effort and the return on investment is great! The paint on the walls is far more valuable to the sale than it is in the can.
Next, any piece of furniture that is in shabby shape has to be either repaired, recovered or replaced. You’re trying to create the model home experience so even if you have to borrow or rent a sofa for the time of the sale, make sure the shopping experience is perfect for the buyer.
Use every room as it is intended. Bedrooms used as storage spaces give the impression that the house is one bedroom short of what the listing says. Make sure that every space in the house is used for some purpose. If you don’t know what to do with a space, the buyer will also be confused about how to use it. If you are truly confused, hire a professional.
Make room for fresh-cut flowers. Use exotic flowers where possible, as they attract attention and give the house that special touch. Not only do they smell great but they also bring a natural element into the house.
Speaking of smells, find ways of making the house smell pleasant. The day before an open house is not the time to try out that new baked-fish recipe you have been salivating over! It’s also smart to have soft music playing while people are viewing your space. Easy jazz or classical music gives the impression of value and class. Never forget it is an emotional experience for the buyer, so creating a positive experience of sights, sounds and smells can only serve you and the seller well.
TIP: Sometimes a combination of cloves and orange peels in a pan of water and boiled slowly on the stove can give the house the smell of fresh-baked goods and a sense of “home.”
Selling a home can be a challenge. If you prepare well before it hits the market, you will get the best possible price with minimal interruption to your life. Then you can go back to living and planning your own move. Good luck with it all!
Glen Peloso, principal designer of Glen Peloso Interiors, Inc., has been designing spaces for commercial, corporate and residential clients for 15 years. You’ll recognize Glen as the host of television design shows like Restaurant Makeover, Take This House & Sell It and Renovate My Wardrobe, to name a few. glenpelosointeriors.com