If I said putting your house on the market is a lot work, you wouldn’t be shocked, right? Yard work, listing agreements, packing, and storing are probably just a part of the to-do list. But is the visual look of your house sending the right message to potential buyers? Check these five points to find out.
Mistake #1 – Painting the whole house white or a pale neutral
Many old-school stagers tell their clients that a neutral palette for the whole house is crucial, and suggest painting over colored walls to make the whole house the same color. It’s a bad idea to remove all color (especially if there was an attractive design concept that went with it) and bring in the third-rate hotel room look. Not only does it suck all the life out, it also makes the house feel less like a home. When you are selling a house, you are selling the dream of living in the home, not the completely bland and boring version of living there.
Granted, dark purple, magenta, hot pink and lime green do not have as many fans in the general populace. Save it for the walls in your new house if they are your favorites. But if you explore the calming soft shades of blue and green and light-enhancing buttery yellows, you’ll give the house a peaceful and inviting feeling. If you already have a nicely decorated room around hot colors like red and orange, you may not need to completely re-paint, you may just need to calm it down by making the hot color an accent wall instead of statement color for the whole room. Painting the other three walls neutral beige or cream can tone it down, and to the seller, re-painting an accent wall will not seem like a huge task on their mental to-do list. It’s more likely to get them starting thinking about what color they would paint it instead, which leads to the color of their furniture, which leads to the placement of their furniture… you get the idea.
Mistake #2 – Removing everything from the kitchen counters
Imagine a hoity toity designer walking through the kitchen, teetering on faux leopard print heels and saying with a flourishing wave: “We must get every last thing off these counters darling. We must create the illusion of space!”
Please. You’re not fooling anyone with those empty counters. An empty counter is just that. Empty. It just says you listened to that crazy lady and put it all away, so now your house looks like nobody lives here. The idea is to sell the dream of living there, remember? And to most people, living in a house means using the kitchen.
Start by getting rid of the magnets and the miscellaneous hoo-ha off the refrigerator. Stick the stuff in a basket and stash it away somewhere. Then decide what you use the most often when cooking and keep your top items on your counter, then add a decorative item. Store the rest. Usually you can have one item per section of counter and get a clean and neat look and be real as well. Because really, the image of empty, forlorn and unused space of any kind isn’t the message you want to send to buyers.
Mistake #3 – Ignoring the first impressions your house makes
When your buyer rolls up to the house to take a look, they are a prime prospect to buy your house. This may seem like an obvious statement, but consider this – 97 percent of people who come for a showing have already seen the pictures online. They liked what they saw. Now they are coming to see how it feeeeels. And the feeling they get as they look at the house from the window of the car, the first moments as they look around while they wait for the broker to get the key out of the lockbox, and then step into the first room are extremely important. They’ll either feel a connection to the home – or not.
Make sure you do your due diligence with your curb appeal. Is everything ship shape with the siding? Is the porch sparkling clean? Are there cobwebs and dead bugs cleaned out of your lighting fixtures? Do you have colorful flowers by the entry? Is the mailbox polished and on straight? Do you have clean and modern looking house numbers? Is the grass alive and well? Do you have at least a temporary victory over the weeds?
Once you are inside the first room, make sure that your decor gets a wow. Think clean, beautiful and updated furniture, with complementary decor and accessories. Bring in the flowers, throws and candles and make sure it looks inviting. If you are going to rent furniture, make sure this room gets priority before others. If you can get the good vibe going early, your buyer might overlook little details that aren’t quite right later on during the walk through.
Mistake #4 – Taking Down All the Family Photos
Uh, oh. The earth is shaking under my feet as I write about this myth. Yes, Virginia, taking down ALL the family photos is a mistake. But if you think back to the idea of selling the dream of living in the house, if we’re honest, how many people don’t have any pictures of their family and friends in their house? Not many. The important thing to remember is to edit. Take down the studio style portraits, any of the posed wedding shots, and the quirky grade school pictures. Those types of photos sell the idea of your family, which is not the goal right now. The shots you want to have scattered around, just occasionally here and there throughout the house, are the fun lifestyle pics. The lifestyle shots are the ones you took of the family skiing last winter, or on your vacation to the beach this summer – where everyone looks like they are having a great time. These types of shots show how you lived a happy and full life while you lived here – and makes the buyer start thinking that they can live that lifestyle in your house too.
Mistake #5 – Cutting Corners in the Cleaning & De-cluttering Department
This may seem obvious, as well as tiresome, and I’m sorry to break it to you. The house has to be completely and utterly sparkly and clean. No shortcuts. Just get it over with by tackling one room at a time. So boring, I know, so I’ll leave it at that.
It’s the same thing with de-cluttering. You have to have the papers, bills and report cards put away. The toys need to be in toy boxes or baskets. The large collections of cute, tiny whatever they may be, have to be cut down to 3 or 5 pieces. Every surface needs to be edited down so that there is empty space along with the decorative items. If people are going to envision themselves in the house, they need to see lots of space to put their own stuff. They also need to see what the house can look like when it’s decorated in its own equivalent of Sunday best.
So, did you pass? Or are you cringing knowing that you made some mistakes? If you did, don’t worry; just get cracking on making those changes or keeping up with the cleaning, whatever it may be. The only thing you have to lose is days on market.