Taking the time to prepare your property puts you at an immediate advantage, and the potential return on investment can be significant.
1) Curb appeal
“Make sure the exterior of the home is inviting and attractive, or you will never get homebuyers inside to see the interior,” advises Kathleen Coumou, Senior Vice President of Christie’s International Real Estate’s Northeast region. Hire a contractor to pressure wash the exterior of your home, the driveway, and walkways and repaint the exterior and deck if needed. Take care that the lawn is green and freshly mowed, trim hedges, and plant flowers or add window boxes beneath your newly washed windows. Replacing the mailbox and welcome mat, hanging easy-to-read house numbers, and repainting the front door go a long way to a good first impression. You may also wish to illuminate the porch and front walkway, particularly if you will be showing in the evening. Inside, a professional cleaning service will make sure your home shines from top to bottom.
2) Strive for light and airy
Air out stuffy rooms, open curtains, and banish dust bunnies and pet odors. Bake cookies, set out a bowl of fresh fruit, or use vanilla-scented candles to create an inviting atmosphere for your open house. Avoid spraying deodorizer—it can give off an overpowering scent.
3) Tidy up
Make your home look bigger by clearing out clutter and excess furniture. In particular, remove toys, family photos, refrigerator art, and personal items. Rent a storage unit if needed. You want homebuyers to envision their own furnishings inside the home, so clear off surfaces and don’t push furniture against the wall—group couches and chairs to create inviting conversation areas. Pack up unnecessary items from your shelves and closets so that potential buyers can see how much storage space they have to offer. If your property is empty, rent a few key furniture pieces so buyers do not need to imagine filling up completely bare spaces.
4) Bring the outdoors inside
Fresh flowers, or even an elegant arrangement of branches, make your home feel immediately inviting, alive, and beautiful. “Most buyers know the moment they enter if they have interest. Make the entry welcoming with a touch of drama,” suggests Elaine Seabolt of Seabolt Brokers. Position large mirrors across from windows, particularly those with scenic views, to create the illusion of another window and more space.
5) Define each room’s purpose
High-net-worth buyers need to see the potential of the home so emphasize the luxury lifestyle opportunities available. A finished basement can easily become an entertainment room or yoga studio, while a spare room can be transformed into a home office or guest bedroom.
6) Brighten up and organize your space
“You can never have enough lamps, particularly in spaces that do not offer much natural light. Aim for three types in each room: overhead or ambient lighting, task lighting (such as pendant or reading lamps), and an accent or table lamp,” says Coumou. Objects also look better grouped in odd numbers: try a vase, decorative tray, and lamp on an end table. And avoid hanging paintings all in a row. Vary sizes and heights, and experiment with a gallery wall for a more sophisticated look. “Art walls may intimidate non-collectors. Balance a few select works of fine art and decorative objects to enhance furniture arrangements and make the rooms inviting,” suggests Bliss Summers, Christie’s Decorative Arts and Interiors specialist.
7) Keep it neutral
“Bold colors have a way of turning off buyers. Creams and off-whites are a safe bet for a clean, open living spaces,” adds Zackary Wright, Senior Vice President, Christie’s International Real Estate. Use brighter hues judiciously to set off rooms with pops of color. “Refresh the paint in rooms after editing fine art pieces to eliminate shadows,” advises Bliss Summers, Christie’s Decorative Arts and Interiors specialist. New accent pillows and rich paint colors are a fantastic way to refresh your home’s interior spaces. Upgrade bedding with crisp white linens.
8) Look around the neighborhood
“If other homes at your price point have granite countertops, ensure your kitchen does as well. You may not have enough time to completely renovate your kitchen, but you may have time to install new countertops and hardware, paint cabinets, replace mismatched appliances, and redo the floor if you need to,” says Coumou. Coordinated fixtures, such as all stainless steel, create a more high-end look than a mix of different finishes. You may be able to purchase a matching panel for your dishwasher or oven rather than replacing your current unit. You may also wish to update flooring and finishes: embrace hardwood and add a few rugs for warmth; jute rugs are a great option. Wood-paneled walls, unless they are intrinsic to the home’s original period architecture, can look dated. Instead of ripping paneling out, use wood filler to fill in the cracks and paint the walls a neutral shade. Stripping wallpaper is also recommended as it is unlikely your selected pattern will appeal to all buyers.
9) Create a spa-like ambiance
“Spa-like bathrooms continue to be a prized amenity among affluent buyers,” shares Zackary Wright. “Set the scene for relaxation in your bathrooms by clearing out personal toiletries and replacing them with high-end soap and new plush towels in white or cream. Tile and shower doors should sparkle, and shower curtains should be replaced, and old tile upgraded.” Pedestal sinks look chic and create more space in a small bathroom than vanity styles.
10) Call in an expert
A professional stager can offer an objective, expert look at your property to best position it for sale. The stager will know how to showcase and enhance the positive features of your home while downplaying any negative attributes to ensure your property sells quickly for the highest possible price.