Real Estate Resources
Staged To Sell
One of the most important (and sometimes the most difficult) step that every seller must take is separating the house they live in with the house they are selling. Once sellers make that emotional transition and begin to look at their home with the eyes of a buyer, the chances of a successful sale are markedly improved. Why? Because buyers also make an emotional transition… and when they find the right one, the house they are viewing becomes the “home” they want to buy.
While it’s tempting to sell your home “as is”, staging it will truly give you the edge in securing your asking price. Regardless of the number of bedrooms and baths, or the year the home was built, a home with clean, uncluttered living space is always viewed the most favorably. But sellers who go the extra step, and introduce the “wow factor” that buyers are looking for, will always get the best price in the shortest amount of time. Here are some great ways to deliver on buyer expectations: with either option your home will show well and you will minimize objections and maximize your chance for a sale.
Grab Buyers From The Curb
Your first chance to make a great impression starts from the street. Attract the interest of potential buyers from the minute they pull up to your home.
- Mow the lawn and weed/mulch gardens and keep the two neatly edged
- Remove any ivy or climbing vines from the exterior of the home
- Remove any children’s or animal toys from the yard
- If necessary, paint the front door in a color that complements the home
- Change out any dated or rusted door hardware
- Make sure the door bell is operating
- Plant colorful flowers in garden beds or in pots
- Buy a welcoming mat for the front door and add a pretty swag or seasonal wreath
- Paint or stain your old mailbox, or buy a new one
Create Dazzling Interior Spaces
When everything is immaculate and in its place, even the smallest home can make a grand impression. Here are some room-by-room suggestions for your primary living areas: the living room/ family room/ dining room.
Throughout the house: Let your architecture take center stage by removing any unnecessary clutter, furnishings or belongings that draw attention from your home’s “bones”. Every surface should be thoroughly cleaned: from the hardwood floors to the ceiling fans.
Keep the palette neutral: We love lime green too, but……neutral paint colors in an off-white color always make rooms appear bright and spacious. We recommend a two-tone paint finish: off-white walls with a bright white ceiling. Here are some specific choices to consider:
- Duron's Navajo White (SW6126)
- Creamy (SW7012)
- Antique White (SW6119)
- Benjamin Moore's White Dove
- Brite White Ceiling Paint
- We always recommend an “eggshell” finish for walls. It has a slight sheen which allows light to reflect off of it, making the room brighter. Eggshell finish paints also clean up better than flat paint.
- Remember: “Neutral” doesn’t mean “Boring”. Pillows, rugs, tasteful collections and artwork add colorful impact without overpowering the architecture.
- Put bright light bulbs into every light fixture: lamps, overhead lighting, under cabinet lighting, and in bathrooms
- Replace your outlet hardware with new larger-scaled wood covers; this too can provide an instant up date to the interior.
- Look above your dining room table, your kitchen table, and in your foyer: if your lighting fixtures either came with your house, or haven’t been updated in 7-10 years, changing them now can make a big impact. Even Home Depot carries stylish fixtures at reasonable prices.
- Arrange knickknacks in odd groupings such as 3, 5 or 7 and keep like-items together to form a collection.
- Bring in plants to liven up the space.
- Arrange furniture in vignettes to create conversation areas-this has a dual purpose: not only does it look inviting, but pulling furniture into clusters allows for a free flow of traffic and make every room feel spacious.
- Use smaller sofas and chairs to make your primary rooms look larger.
- An artful placement of mirrors will add depth and dimension to the space.
- If your chairs and sofas are worn, toss a soft throw over it.
- NEVER BLOCK WINDOWS-LET IN THE LIGHT
The Dining Room
Although they often go unused, DC-area home buyers still prefer floor plans with a dining room. Here are some ways to enhance a smaller formal dining room:
- Take the leaves out of the table so that there is plenty of space on both ends to walk around the table.
- Use a maximum of four chairs at the table. Remove the others from the room. Do not line them up against the wall, as that just eats up space and gives the room a cluttered feeling.
- If you have a large china cabinet with a top and a bottom, remove the top and use the bottom as a server. This will visually open up the space.
The Kitchen: The Epicenter of the 21st Century Home
Even if a buyer doesn't cook, the kitchen is probably the most important room in the house. Because of the popularity of home improvement shows, it’s important to show yours as a functional workplace with plenty of storage space and its own sense of style!
- Homebuyers will open your cabinets, your pantry and the drawers to see how much room there is. If you have pots, pans, utensils or dishes that you rarely use, put them in a box and into storage. If you have canned goods that you know you won’t use-food banks are always looking for donations no matter what the time of year. Be ruthless about de-cluttering the kitchen-this is probably the most important room in the house!
- Clean your oven and range and put new drip pans under the burners.
- Clean around the door to your dishwasher and make sure it is clean inside and out - buyers will open it.
- We love kids' artwork too - so buy some inexpensive frames and put their masterpieces behind glass, and then put the collection on a sideboard or in a bookcase. Now remove the refrigerator magnets and keep everything off the surface of the appliance.
- Keep the countertops clean and keep all unnecessary items off.
- Does your kitchen open into a family room or dining area? Use the same paint colors or paint one room a shade lighter or darker. This designer trick allows the eye to flow from one room to the next, making them both feel connected, open and spacious.
- Apply orange oil to cabinets that appear dry-the process will renew their original luster
- Put out large bowls of fruit such as polished apples, bright oranges, luscious grapes
- Use a stand and display an open cookbook on it.
- Alphabetize your spices and turn all coffee cup handles facing the same direction. Buyers will notice and think you are meticulous about the rest of the home, too!
- If your kitchen is outdated, modernize its look with some new knobs and handles on your cabinets. If your budget allows, update your sink faucet too.
Create Inviting Bedrooms That Work Well for Residents & Guests
Most people consider their bedroom a sanctuary - a great place to retreat after a long day at work. If you are staging a master bedroom, then the goal is to create a luxurious sanctuary; for guest rooms, the space should convey an image of hospitality. For children’s bedrooms, try to imagine a quiet place to read a bedtime story; for teens, emphasize that the room is a great place to do homework.
- Open shades and drapes so that natural light pours in.
- If bed linens are worn, replace them with something that complements the furnishings. Add some colorful pillows for accent.
- There’s a reason that custom closet advertisements look so great—they only have 3 shirts, 3 dresses and 3 skirts hanging in them! If you have more than one season’s worth of clothes in your closet, pack away/store the clothes you won’t need until next spring/summer/fall…you might be surprised at how spacious your closet suddenly looks!
- If you want to veer from the off-white color scheme that we recommend in the primary rooms, there are 4 colors that work well in creating a bedroom sanctuary - all are Benjamin Moore.
- Cedar Key OC-16 - A rich, soft cappuccino beige which allows white moldings to pop.
- Cape Hatteras Sand AC-34 - Our go-to taupe when we want to add drama or just mix up the colors between bedrooms.
- November Rain 2142-60 – A soft shade of sage green that goes with anything.
- Whispering Spring 2136-70 – A soft, barely blue shade that imparts a restful mood to a bedroom.
- Once you’ve thinned out your closet by keeping only this season’s clothes, take an extra step and arrange your clothes on hangers by color. You’d be amazed at how much this seems to visually expand the closet.
Create a Luxurious Bath
Buyers will probably spend less time in your bathrooms than they do in any other room in the house, but they will surely remember if yours is dirty or hopelessly outdated. If you live in an older home with original baths, we are not suggesting renovation — just make the most of your vintage space!
- Get rid of mold. Almost every bathroom contains some form of mold, especially in corners.
- Remove the covers from light fixtures and exhaust fan, wash, dry and replace.
- If your light fixtures are rated for 100-watt, replace the bulbs with 100-watt.
- Remove prescriptions from the medicine cabinet.
- Throw out or donate worn, frayed, or outdated rugs and towels-animal shelters are often looking for these items.
- Use Lime-A-Way or a similar product to remove soap grime and calcium residue from shower doors.
- Fix leaky or dripping faucets.
- If cabinet hardware is weathered, replace knobs and pulls.
The best bath staging you can do is to create a “spa-like” space. You don’t have to spend a fortune to create the illusion of a spa. Check out discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Costco or Tuesday Morning for inexpensive supplies—these include towels, inexpensive trays or glass containers, and soaps. You don’t want to clutter the vanity or make the room feel overcrowded…less is always better.
- Layer a few towels on the rack by artfully folding in thirds a larger towel for the bottom and place a smaller towel on top. Tie the center loosely with ribbon or twine.
- Slip a white robe on a padded hanger and hang it on the door.
- Consider placing a new rug next to the bathtub or shower.
- Put a stack of folded towels on a bamboo tray and arrange a few unwrapped bars of scented soap next to the towels, add some creamy lotions and moisturizer and voila! It’s a Spa!
The Great Outdoors
Last but not least, don’t neglect your outdoor living space. Particularly in today’s economy, we are all spending more time entertaining and relaxing at home. Maximizing your outdoor living space adds instant square footage to your house!
- Add plants and potted flowers to your patios and decks.
- Add additional color by setting your outdoor table with a lantern or bright, plastic dinnerware
- String some holiday lights around your deck railing, put a spotlight on a beautiful plant or tree and buyers who are looking at homes at the end of the workday will see the perfect setting for outdoor parties!
You should only spend as much on home staging as needed to achieve the desired effect. The desired effect, of course, is to sell the home quickly and for a good price. In a seller’s market, you won’t have to do as much work to sell your home. In a buyer’s market, you’ll have to do more work. The key is finding the right balance and that’s where we can help.
In a competitive market like today’s in Metro DC, staging with either the Basic or Best techniques will go a long way in setting your home apart from the competition. Staged homes will photograph better too—and it’s important to remember an important fundamental of real estate in the modern world: serious buyers almost always start their home search online--when they come to your home they are actually seeing it for the second time. Don’t waste the opportunity you have to show them how your house could be their next home!