Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How to sell your house for more money

Getting certified as a home stager has opened my eyes to how many properties are being sold without the least effort to make them desirable. "It was good enough for us all these years," sellers seem to think, "surely buyers can see it's a great place."

If only it worked that way.

Well, Spring is finally here! This is the time to renew and reassess. Do you have a house to sell? Is there a listing you’ve had for a while that is not going anywhere? In our neighbourhood a house has been on sale for months now. Curious, I went there one Sunday to see what could be deterring buyers. The answer was at once clear: no presentation. It was hard to see beyond the mediocre, uninviting exterior and the vaguely cluttered interior. The house actually had good ‘bones’ but I really had to make an effort to see that. No wonder no one wanted to buy it!

Now that good weather is here, you may want to step back and review what is working and what is not working in your sale process. Do you have a fabulous presentation?
If you have not yet considered staging your property for sale, this is the time. To stage a home simply means to present it in the best way possible. This maximizes the home’s benefits so that prospective buyers get a true picture of its potential.

Why stage? For starters, when you put your house up for sale you need to consider how it will be perceived by potential buyers. You need to showcase it as the best property within the buyer’s price range. This only makes sense. How will your market know your home’s worth if it’s hiding behind piles of clutter or personal knick-knacks? When prospective buyers arrive at your door they have already determined that the property suits their basic needs. Now they need that decision to be validated and reinforced. They need to walk in and say “We want to live here!”

Staging a home basically follows a three-pronged approach for each area of the house:

1) De-cluttering and organizing

2) Providing functionality and purpose

3) Creating focal points and accents

If you are planning to move anyway, why not do some advance packing? That itself will take care of the majority of your clutter. If you don’t use it, lose it. Either donate it, recycle it or throw it away, but let it go! Once that’s done, you’ll be able to give each room a clearer sense of purpose.

Does your office look like a spare bedroom? Maybe it needs more definition. Buyers like to see rooms performing a specific function, even if they may not use that same room for that same purpose. Professional stagers try to use furniture and accessories that the home owners already have, so the cost is usually minimal. The secret is to use the right things in the right way in the right room. You can do this yourself by browsing through home d├ęcor magazines. What works? How can you translate that to your situation?

Try to detach yourself and look at your home with the fresh eyes of a prospective buyer who has just stepped through the door. What do you see? Are your eyes drawn to a point of focus in the room?

Your home may even require painting or minor repair, but by investing some time and elbow grease, and usually not a whole deal of money, you can make your house shine. You can make the next prospective buyer who walks in go “Wow!”

Statistics from independent real estate studies show that staged homes sell about 50% faster, for 17% more money. Take advantage of the departure of snow and the arrival of new energy and vision with making a list of what could be done to sell your home in an easier, faster and more profitable way. And then work on it.

Just give it a shot!

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