Monday, June 22, 2009

The 9 Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make When Preparing and Staging Their Homes for Sale

Home sellers who make the following mistakes when preparing their homes for sale, will have their homes on the market for a lot longer than they want...and they will probably have to reduce their asking price.

1) Not Updating the Kitchen or Bathrooms. These are the two most important rooms in the house...the ones that make or break the ability to get an offer. And you don't even have to completely gut the kitchen or bath. See some of my earlier posts on how we updated several kitchens beautifully...and inexpensively. Even simple updates like painting your cabinets will create a new look that will be very appealing to a buyer. Buyers want a home that is move-in ready - but you don't have to replace everything in a kitchen or bath to achieve that. New faucets, clean and sparkling sinks, uncluttered countertops and new hardware can really spruce up these rooms. If the budget permits - do updated appliances, better countertops and new flooring.

Before: These kitchen cabinets were originally a mid tone taupe color

After: We painted the cabinets, added decorative onlays and we also created a beautiful faux marble look for the island countertop. You can make your kitchen beautiful...
without expensive replacement costs.
2) Not Caring About Curb Appeal. A buyer prejudges a home in 12 seconds from the outside of a home. That's why curb appeal is so very important if you want to attract a buyer to "come in." It's like the cover of a book - if the cover doesn't look interesting...chances are the book will be passed over.

3) Not De-Cluttering, Cleaning and Deodorizing. If you take the time to remove clutter, edit the amount of furniture you have in your rooms and clean your home to shine like a diamond - your space will look larger, more pristine and well-cared for. Endless knickknacks and collectibles in cabinets, magnets on the fridge and family photos all over the place deter potential buyers from envisioning themselves living in the home. It's best to pack up the treasures and make all surfaces shine. Making your house smell sunshine clean is also very important. You want to remove as many negatives as possible when your home is up for sale.

This bathroom would have looked great if the homeowner had removed the dated mirror, old towels and toiletries and added nice, fluffy white towels, a new faucet, shower curtain...and a neutral colored paint on the vanity and walls. Our company could have also created a limestone look on the countertop - a durable and beautiful finish that is less costly than buying and installing a new one.

4) Keeping Taste-Specific Furniture, Carpeting, Colors and Accessories as Part of the Decor. If you bought your home in the 70s or 80s and if the decor still reflects those eras, your home won't be on a potential buyers "make an offer" list. Odd colored carpets (teal is a big no-no), draperies, wall colors etc will not be appealing to a broad range of buyer. Why? Number one, not everyone has furniture that would go with specific colors - that's why neutral colors are the best to use when getting your home ready for sale. Another reason why taste-specific decor doesn't work is because more and more prospective buyers are young, first time homebuyers (ages 25-35). They weren't even born when Avocado and Harvest Gold were the "in" kitchen colors! The younger, first time buyer wants neutral colors, clean lines and uncluttered spaces. Tip: A buyer should not be able to tell if the seller is 90 or 30 years old and whether the seller is male or female.

5)Trying to Sell A Home When It's Vacant. A home with no furniture is soulless and very unappealing. A vacant home can also translate into "desperate seller" in buyer-speak. The buyer gets the idea that a seller really needs to sell the home and so they assume the seller will take a lower offer. A vacant home never gets a full asking price offer - always lower. It's much more prudent to have a competent home stager bring in furniture and accessories - and make the home warm and livable. In addition, a vacant room actually looks smaller than it is. Plus - a buyer will only focus on the negatives of a space because there is nothing else to focus on.

Every hairline crack, every speck of dust...any minute "less then perfect" aspect of a house
is magnified when it's vacant.

6) Not Letting in as Much Light in to the House. Dark, heavy draperies, closed vertical blinds...any window covering that blocks light from coming in to a house - will not make the buyer feel that the home is bright and airy. You have to find ways to "steal the sunlight," as real estate guru Barbara Corcoran says. Add more light fixtures, uplights and take dark shades off your table lamps - replace with more translucent covers that will emit more light.

7) Refusing to Put Any Money into Necessary Repairs, Improving the House or Staging Before Selling. For every deferred repair, the homeowner will receive less money offered for the house. Avoid possible buyer objections by fixing the things that are wrong with the home. A wife may fall in love with a kitchen - but her husband will be looking at very crack, every bulge in the wall that spells water trouble and every electrical no-no in the house. Fix things before you have a buyer offer you less than you want. The money you spend on repairs will net you a bigger profit on your home. Also, consider hiring a home stager - even just for a consultation. Staging is an investment - not a cost. Plus, it's tax deductible. For every dollar you spend on staging, you get $3 in return.

8) Keeping Fido and Kitty at the Home When it's Being Shown. Many times I have been to Open Houses where I have been greeted by the family cat or dog. I have also attended Open Houses where there are 4 or 5 dogs in a crate - and they are all yapping and barking so much that I can hardly hear what the realtor is saying to me! I've also seen wee wee pads here and there at Open Houses. I am an animal lover - so these things never bother me. But, what about any prospective buyer who might be allergic to cats or dogs? It's best to keep the family pet away for the Open House day - and any time the house is being shown. You should also remove any sign (or odor) of pet ownership.

9) Not Marketing the Home Properly with Great Online Photos.
With over 80% of potential buyers searching online first before viewing a property, it's imperative that a home look beautiful online. Badly lit pictures, cluttered surfaces in the photos and even just pictures of the exterior of the home (and no interior shots) spell "not worth a visit" to a prospective buyer. Even worse is when there are no photos of the home. Take the time to do a great photo shoot. It will really pay off. Staged homes, by the way - look great online.


Maria Killam said...

Excellent post on what to do, as a designer myself I've still been resisting getting my uncle's house (who passed away a few months ago) looking 'staged' for my mom who will be selling it.

Reality check here!! Thanks.

Linda Leyble said...

Thanks for your comments Maria. We did a 94 year old man's home who had passed away. It was a tough job, but it came out beautiful (you can see the kitchen makeover we did on this blog - it's the Before and After where the cabinets are a dark walnut). When you do the staging - keep it simple and serene...not "staged." That seemed to work becuase the home sold in 2 days. Good luck! Linda

Unknown said...

I also believe that, while living in the house, home owners should keep a lot of these tips in mind. A regular kitchen and bedroom makeover, Opening up the house for more lights. Also, clean up, and fix up around the house. It's much harder, and costs much more, to try to fix everything before the sale, and make it look natural.


Linda Leyble said...

Thanks Nicolette...well said. If only homeowners would fix things, as needed - their lives (when selling), would be much easier. But - that's why the Staging Industry is thriving!! Thanks for responding. I will take a look at your website! Linda Leyble

Pia @ Philippines properties for sale said...

This post will surely help the home seller to avoid mistakes preparing and staging their homes for sale. Thanks for the post!

Linda Leyble said...

Hi Pia - thanks for commenting. How are things going in the Phillippines? Are sellers staging their homes as in the US? Let me know. Would love to see how the rest of the world is doing re staging and selling.

Thanks again - come back soon!


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