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The Fantastic Four: 4 Essential Home Staging Activities
There’s something fresh and energetic about this time of year. After another long, cold winter, spring season has finally settled in. Perhaps, like many other Canadian homeowners, you are ready to get your house prepared for a sale. It’s not easy to see the home you’ve nested in for all these years from an outside perspective, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to make your selling process smoother and more profitable.
Whether you’re looking to list in two weeks or two months and still want to hit the spring market, there are four tasks every single home can benefit from from a sales perspective.
Tip: Before doing any work on your own, always consult with your REALTOR®, who may recommend a professional stager, to crunch the numbers and decide what is the proper investment for your specific location and market conditions.
1. Say goodbye to clutter
Paring down is the cheapest and most effective activity you can do. The more floor space you can open up, the bigger your home will feel and the greater perceived value you create.
When you think of buyers coming to view your home, there may be two or three people plus the REALTOR® walking from room to room. You don’t want buyers to have to squeeze past or detour around excess furniture because that sends a subliminal message that your home is tight and awkward, no matter the actual square footage.
On the flip side, empty rooms can hurt you just as much. These rooms do not photograph well because there’s no sense of scale or anything interesting to look at. In person, most buyers judge an empty room to be smaller than it is. This hurts the perceived value of your home because buyers think your home “feels” smaller than it might state on paper. So repurpose, borrow or rent furniture to ensure each room is furnished.
Tip: Before starting work, take pictures of all your rooms as if you were the photographer for your own listing. After living in a space for a long time, you stop seeing your surroundings. With a photo, clutter and distractions become much easier to see. Be ruthless and get rid of anything that takes away from the size and features of each room.
Remember: Photos are the most popular feature on a property listing page on REALTOR.ca. Ask your REALTOR® to include high quality photos, videos and virtual tours to help make your listing stand out.
What to pack? Renting a storage space is often ideal so you can get rid of extra items without actually throwing them away. But, if this isn’t possible, ask friends and family if they have some garage space you can borrow. If this won’t work, then it’s ok to sacrifice your own basement or garage to use as storage. Buyers do have some forgiveness for a packed garage; they understand you are moving. Nothing is more important than the first impression of your main living space, because the feeling that buyers get about it can make or break their desire for your home. So keep packing away until you know that first impression is spot-on.
2. Freshen up the room with paint
Now that you’ve cleared out any excess items, it will be much easier to paint. If you haven’t painted your walls and baseboards in the last couple of years, they could likely use a fresh coat. No matter the age of your home, buyers always want a home that feels new and extremely well maintained. Paint is this magical liquid that achieves both of these goals. There is nothing like pristine baseboards, doors and walls to erase all the history of your ownership on the home. For some colour inspiration, check out the trendiest paint colours for spring.
Do I have to do the trim and doors? It’s such a pain! Yes. Please yes. We beg of you, yes. The quality and condition of moulding gives a subliminal message about the maintenance of a home. No buyer beelines to your trim work for inspection but it affects the overall negative or positive “feeling” a buyer gets but can’t quite put their finger on why.
3. Update your fixtures: lighting, handles and faucets
Take a good look at your kitchen handles, your hallway and dining lights and your bathroom faucets. Are any of them looking tired, basic or dated? Individually, no one item has any grand significance but if all of your faucets, handles and lights are creating an outdated vibe, it might be worth addressing.
Try to stay out of the thinking: “buyers shouldn’t expect perfect and this stuff is easy for them to change the way they want.” Buyers may never change them the way they want because they may just decide to buy a newer, more modern-feeling home instead of yours. Never let such an easy and small job cast a negative impression on your home.
What to buy? The most universally-appealing finish is brushed or polished nickel. You can’t go wrong.
If a silver tone looks too cold or traditional for your home, then choose a flat black.
Where to buy it
Give yourself proper time to start looking at local home improvement stores or to browse online. If buying online, sign up with your email, put the items you like in your cart and then don’t do anything. You will be surprised how many online stores will customize sales based on what you have been looking at. You might just get an email or see an ad in a week to let you know your favourite items have come on sale! Lucky you!
Online shopping is the best way to get the most interesting items (not the cheapest, builder standard) for the best price but be sure to allow time for shipping. If you are in a mad scramble, it’s still better to buy the value pack of silver knobs in store than to leave your dated handles untouched.
4. Step up your curb appeal
In the winter, we might switch this point out with something about focal points or accessories, but for three seasons a year, curb appeal is incredibly important to home buyers. Addressing curb appeal doesn’t have to be expensive at all and this is your first opportunity to say to buyers, “I love my home and I take care of it.” Here are some accessories that will help improve your curb appeal.
No matter the season, you can always flank your front door with two planters full of greenery or flowers. You want to put as much attention to the front door as possible, especially if you have large, dominating garage doors. It helps focus the buyer on a pretty vignette.
Wobbly or weedy interlock? Missing or broken deck boards? These items can even be addressed in cooler weather and can help prevent any negative impressions before your buyers have even had the chance to step into your home.
If the paint on your door or the sealer on your driveway is looking worn, you do have to wait for consistently warm weather, but if you can, giving a fresh coat to all of your surfaces can help create great expectations of your home.
Spring is the perfect time to spruce up your yard. Add a few bags of fresh mulch and your beds will look crisp and attractive. You can also put some colourful annuals in pots and bring them inside on cooler nights.
Even if it’s just for photo day, set up your patio furniture, outdoor rugs and cushions to create an outdoor living room. Put some boxwood or greenery in pots to add life and vitality to the area. While other homes might not have outdoor photos, or bland, grey photos of a muddy backyard, you can show off that ideal outdoor living space we Canadians long for after a cold winter.
Although the term “staging” means a wide variety of things depending on who you ask, some take away notes are to keep things simple by focusing on decluttering, painting, upgrading fixtures and improving curb appeal. If you ensure your home feels loved and well-maintained, you will be in great shape for a spring sale.
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