Spruce Up and Clean Out to Turn On Prospective Home Buyers
Selling your existing home? With prospective buyers walking through every room, peering inside your closets and cupboards, you’ll want to make the best impressions possible. Interior design professional Adrienne van Dooren offers several practical, do-able tips that will help you stage your humble abode for a top dollar sale.
When staging your home to sell, please remember…
- Staging helps the buyer understand the purpose of the room (e.g. bedroom, dining area, office). The area’s purpose may seem obvious to the seller, but buyers often need it spelled out. This is a recurring homeowner error pointed out on the hit HGTV show- “Designed to Sell.” In the show, designers have a $2000 budget to completely update and stage a home. They use what the owners have and add accents, butalso paint, re-tile, etc. to update kitchens and baths. Homeowners often use their dining room as an office, the basement rec room for storage etc. The show’s designers ensure that every room is staged to represent the room’s proper function. For example, they may add a table, chairs and chandelier to define the dining room or perhaps place a small table and stools in the kitchen to highlight the fact that the home has an “eat in” kitchen. Another favorite tactic is to ensure the deck or terrace has good-looking patio furniture and flowers.
While staging often includes adding items such as a vase of flowers, a table etc., the pre-staging, de-cluttering phase is the most critical part of the process…This inexpensive project can make all the difference in purchase price and time on the market – often equating to thousands of dollars.
- Homeowners often ignore this advice from sales agents because they don’t recognize the importance or don’t wish to pay for a storage unit. What they don’t understand is the conscious use and subconscious psychological impact of clutter on buyers. Step 1 is to put everything you will not need or use prior to the move into storage (small appliances, seasonal clothing, toys, videos, extra toiletries, etc.) or donate/throw away as appropriate. This is also a great way to get a head start on packing. Clear as much as you can from cupboards and closets as well. Buyers almost always check out closet space and open the cabinets. A bulging closet sends a “not enough storage space” message at the conscious level and “chaos, stressful” message on the subconscious level. Conversely, a neatly organized, half empty storage area sends the “spacious, calm” message.
- The next step is to put away items you would normally leave out on the counters for convenience sake (e.g. coffee maker, mixer, electric can opener, bread box in the kitchen and hair brush, hairspray, shampoo, toothpaste etc., in the bathroom). It may be an inconvenience for a short time, but this step does make a big difference. On the conscious level, cleared kitchen counters appear to be larger. On the subconscious level, the message is “clean, calm, organized, ready for entertaining.”
- Put away your paperwork. Stacks of mail and paperwork add clutter to a space. Neatly stack these items in baskets when you are not working on them.
- Engage all the buyer’s senses. Leave on soft background music, bake chocolate chip cookies or simmer cinnamon and spices in a croc pot, etc. Scent can be a powerful reminder of happy times. The transference effect means the association of those pleasant memories and good feelings with your home. Leave a plate of cookies for them to eat with a little note saying, “help yourself.” This is a common tactic of sales agents because it not only triggers association but also elicits a subconscious reciprocity response. Simply stated, reciprocity is the feeling that if someone gives you something, you owe them something in return. This is often used by car dealerships that offer you a free radio or other gift for taking a test drive. Of course no one consciously thinks: “They gave me a $20 radio so I should buy a $20,000 car.” However, on the subconscious level, the reciprocity response is quite strong.