Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Dressed to sell

Enhanced’ homes move faster and bring more money, Realtors say

May 23, 2004

Advertisement

You wouldn't wear stinky sweatpants and a clashing T-shirt to a job interview.

Well, maybe you would. But you wouldn't get the job.

In fact you might not even get an interview because your cosmetic pitfalls would overshadow your qualifications.

Same goes for selling your house.

Most potential buyers -- much like prospective bosses -- won't see past odors, clutter, bad paint and a brown lawn to the "charm" you tout in your newspaper ad.

It's a cliche, but first impressions are everything, and real estate agents say buyers develop an opinion about a property faster than it took you to read this far.

So if you're among the slew of Lawrence homeowners trying to unload your house in May -- the busiest sales month of the year -- you might want to jump on the "staging" bandwagon being popularized by television shows like HGTV's "Designed to Sell" and A&E's "Sell This House."

Even in small-market Lawrence, a new company called Transition Designs is offering its aesthetic services to homeowners who need help ratcheting up their curb appeal and enhancing their best interior features.

Of course real estate agents have been suggesting tips to hasten home sales from time immemorial, but it seems consumers are suddenly buying into the idea that a few spruce-ups on the front end can pay off later.

"I just think that people are in the mindset now that they realize they can make more money when they resell a home if they do some basic things," says Deborah McMullen, president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors and an agent with Coldwell Banker McGrew. "The little things make a BIG difference."

Spotting trouble

Just how big depends on the market. But Wendy Dilda, vice president for real estate enhancement at the Dallas-based Interior Arrangement and Design Assn., says staged houses sell "faster for more money" -- even in a seller's market like Lawrence.

But what does it mean to "stage" a house?

The idea is to present your home in the best possible light, which can be as simple as reducing clutter or rearranging furniture to make a room feel more spacious.

The trouble is it takes an objective eye to spot potential problems. For example, you might adore the retro flowered couch you inherited from your grandmother and the sponge painting technique you and your children used on the kitchen walls. But chances are potential buyers won't share your eclectic taste, and if you don't recognize that on your own, it puts your real estate agent in an awkward position.

























Homeowners looking to sell should scour these tips before showing their home.1. Make the front entrance inviting. Potential buyers often drive by before deciding they want to see the inside of a house.2. Clear away clutter. Put away personal photos, knickknacks, boxes -- anything that will distract the buyer from concentrating on the house.3. Clean the house thoroughly. Make bathrooms sparkle, wash the windows and clean appliances.4. Freshen the appearance of rooms. Repaint much-used rooms in neutral colors to make them look clean and fresh.5. Arrange furniture for spaciousness. Remove extra, unwanted furniture and arrange remaining pieces in a way that creates smooth traffic flow.6. Do all you can to reduce odors. People never forget smells when they walk in the door.7. Perform minor repairs, if necessary.8. Replace outdated light fixtures. Wall sconces, recessed lighting or pendant lights are good alternatives to a single old-fashioned overhead fixture.9. Clean the carpeting. Unless it's extremely worn, you may be able to avoid replacing carpet.10. Don't forget the garage and basement. It's tempting to stash stuff away in these areas of the home, but when you're selling, they have to be neat and clean, too.Source: HGTV.com

"One of the most uncomfortable things for Realtors to do is tell people what they need to change because they don't want to effect their relationship with their clients," says Tammie Capps of Transition Designs.

So for $50, the fledgling company will take an hour-long walk through a house and itemize the challenges room by room. The sellers can either use the tips to do the work themselves or hire the company to do it for them.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to the process, Capps says, but a few sure bets for every homeowner include: eliminating odors; making sure the house is well-lit (it's not a bad idea to use higher-wattage light bulbs); eliminating clutter; cleaning out closets; changing paint colors; optimizing furniture layout and cleaning vigorously.

Fresh eyes

McMullen suggests walking across the street and trying to look at your home from a buyer's perspective. Some things to look for: Are your mailbox, light fixtures and house numbers in good shape? Does your fence need a fresh coat of paint? How about your siding? Once inside, is the foyer clean and inviting?

And here's something that might not occur to most people: It helps if the house smells and even SOUNDS inviting, McMullen says.

"I've known people who've baked bread before an open house," McMullen says. "When people smell that, it's the Pavlovian theory. They think, 'Oh, home' or 'grandma.' There's something pleasing."

She also suggests lighting candles and playing soft music.

The good news is that fresh paint, light bulbs, cleansers and fresh flowers won't put much stress on your pocketbook at a time when you're probably investing in a new home yourself.

One more tip: The smartest investment you can make won't be seen or heard by people checking out your house.

"If you haven't used it in six months, you don't need it. Pack it away," McMullen says. "Get a storage bin and pay to put all that stuff in it. You're moving anyway. It's to your advantage to get packed."

Tips for homesellers

Homeowners looking to sell should scour these tips before showing their home.

1. Make the front entrance inviting. Potential buyers often drive by before deciding they want to see the inside of a house.

2. Clear away clutter. Put away personal photos, knickknacks, boxes -- anything that will distract the buyer from concentrating on the house.

3. Clean the house thoroughly. Make bathrooms sparkle, wash the windows and clean appliances.

4. Freshen the appearance of rooms. Repaint much-used rooms in neutral colors to make them look clean and fresh.

5. Arrange furniture for spaciousness. Remove extra, unwanted furniture and arrange remaining pieces in a way that creates smooth traffic flow.

6. Do all you can to reduce odors. People never forget smells when they walk in the door.

7. Perform minor repairs, if necessary.

8. Replace outdated light fixtures. Wall sconces, recessed lighting or pendant lights are good alternatives to a single old-fashioned overhead fixture.

9. Clean the carpeting. Unless it's extremely worn, you may be able to avoid replacing carpet.

10. Don't forget the garage and basement. It's tempting to stash stuff away in these areas of the home, but when you're selling, they have to be neat and clean, too.

Source: HGTV.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.