Since "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" premiered on Netflix, people around the country have been embracing the idea of decluttering. Last week, we brought you several helpful tips from our agents about tidying up when your house is on the market. This week, we're bringing you even more ideas! Perhaps they'll inspire you this weekend, whether you're prepping your house to sell, or just want to enjoy a neater space.
When Michelle Sanoske, an agent in our Reston office gets a listing, she doesn't waste any time getting the home ready for potential buyers.
“First, I get my clients to agree to a Salvation Army and/or junk removal date. Then, I offer my help to start the process. ‘Time is money’ is a very effective mantra (because it's true)! Once this is done and the house is staged, I ask my clients to use one specific bathroom and keep the house orderly because it will show better and sell quicker. Another good mantra to remember during this process? ‘No pain, no gain!’”
Melissa Atherholt, a C21 Redwood Realty Gaithersburg agent, points out any cosmetic challenges to her seller clients before anyone else sees them:
“I perform and provide formal ‘Pre-Listing DIY Staging Consults’ for my clients who are about to list as well as for other agents. With 22 years in real estate, I know what will become "red flags" for buyers and what will bring the most return on seller's investments. I use their existing items and let them know how to rearrange it throughout the home, so it shows as well as possible.
One of the biggest red flags is old water stains on ceilings from a decade ago when little Johnny made the toilet overflow. Long dried out and repaired, but many times sellers don't even notice the water stains anymore - but, buyers will!
Another critical issue is whether there are any odors present. This is a hard thing to tell a seller because often they don't realize it. But, that is so essential.
Decluttering is a no-brainer. Everyone knows that, but it's how you do it! If you don't have access to a storage room, then designate one section in the house, preferably a garage or basement room, where you can put any furnishings you are taking with you but don't need to stage the home. I always tell sellers if they plan on purchasing some nice, new patio furniture for their new home - do it now so you can stage your current home and get the most out of your investment.
Every home is different as far as what updates are worth the money to do so that's why I recommend a pre-list consultation - one home may be just fine with the original countertops because their flooring is more important or vice versa.
Another reason I recommend agents hire someone to perform the pre-list consult is that it makes that person the "bad guy." As the listing agent, it's much better to let someone else tell your client that their home smells like a cat box!”
Karen Sparks, a C21 Redwood Realty Arlington agent, also believes in staging:
“I never list a home without staging it, and that starts with decluttering. After I get a listing agreement signed, the first thing I do is go back for the initial staging consultation. I explain to sellers that the goal is to make the home appealing to the highest number of buyers giving it the most opportunity to sell. Buyers browse online listings before touring a home, so it is imperative that the online listing is attractive and eye-catching. That will result in more showings and more traffic at open houses than pictures of a cluttered, unprepared home.
At the initial staging consultation, I walk through the home room by room. I take pictures and make a very detailed list of what I'd like the seller to do and a list of what I will do. In most cases, it is removing about half of the furniture, accessories and personal photos. I always recommend the seller pack up the items I won't use for staging that they want to keep and move to their next home, donated or dispose of the rest. By doing this, they are not only preparing their home for sale but will be a step ahead in packing for their upcoming move. I then bring in updated bedding, accessories and artwork if necessary.
Often, staging includes rearranging the furniture so that space and light can be showcased in the best possible way. If there are rooms that are not being used by the seller for its intended purpose or rooms that don't have an obvious use, we stage it to give it a purpose. We want the buyers to visualize themselves living there and to see how the space can be used.
In my staging report, I also include updates that I believe would help sell the home for the most money. Because I also work with a lot of buyers, I know what they are looking for, and I stay educated on trends in home design and decor. Spending money on kitchen and bathroom updates will be the best return on investment.
My goal is to have the sellers spend as little as possible for the biggest return, and often minimal updates and touches can make a tremendous impact. For example, older kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be updated simply with the addition of current hardware. Sometimes painting them is the best solution. A new kitchen faucet is also a good investment if the existing one is dated. Nothing, in my opinion, dates a home more than a lot of brass. Black spray paint is a miracle worker! Light fixtures, towel racks, door knobs, air vents, light switch plates, and fireplace surrounds can all be easily spray painted, saving a lot of money. If there's no time to get crafty, replace them!
I also leave the seller with two non-property specific checklists. One is for general staging tips. It includes things such as deep cleaning the home, cleaning the windows, having carpets professionally cleaned, having hardwoods cleaned and polished, inspecting all caulking for mold & mildew in bathrooms, removing all dead plants inside and out, stowing trash cans out of sight, power washing decks, patios, and walkways, trimming bushes, adding fresh mulch and making sure the lawn is mowed. The other list concerns preparation for showings. One of the most important things a seller can do to prepare for a showing is to open the blinds and curtains. Everyone loves natural light, and even on a cloudy day, a home will look better. Other reminders include: no dirty dishes in the sink, beds are made, pet bowls stowed, countertops & hardwood floors gleam and the home smells nice without being overwhelming. Also, odors from cooking or pets are a huge deterrent.
I have found that even in a market of low inventory, buyers are very picky. A seller needs to address that before the first buyer ever sees the home. Show a home at its very best, and it will sell quickly for the most money!”
Isn’t that the goal of every seller – to have their home sell quickly, for the most money? Now you have the steps to take to start to make that a reality. No Marie Kondo required!