Spring is here, and that means “For Sale” signs sprouting up almost as fast as tulips. Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, and showings go from virtual to in-person, it may be time to “up your game”!
Most sellers understand that some preparation is necessary to sell a house, but they often don’t expect how much work it really entails. We know the counters should be clear, and rooms should be neat, but what about the spaces that may not get photographed?
Home stagers like to talk about how selling is more about psychology than decorating. What “feeling” do buyers have when they walk through your house? The buyer wants to feel welcome when they enter a home. This is very similar to how you prepare your home for a special party, detail your car when you want to sell it, or wear a suit to an interview. Do they feel like this house will give them a better life, or one the same or maybe worse than what they currently have? Stuffed linen closets, basements that are too full to walk through, cabinets that cannot close, and un-expected items in the master closet (scrapbooks, anyone?), can send the wrong message to a potential buyer. These common issues might tell a buyer that the house is too small, or it has inadequate storage space. No matter the size, if you can’t walk into your walk-in closet, it’s not a walk-in closet!
What about the clutter outside of the storage areas? Mail on the kitchen counter, stacks of clothes in the bedrooms, open bookshelves packed to overflowing, collections and projects covering every flat surface – these are all sending the message that the seller isn’t ready to sell. Even if they can see beyond the clutter, buyers will hesitate to make an offer on a house if they feel that the seller isn’t really serious. It might feel to them that you may change your mind or not be open to negotiations if they make and offer.
So, what can you do about it? Off-site storage is an option, and it can come in handy if the storage areas in your house are minimal. With this in mind, here are some ideas for staging the storage areas:
Basement – buyers do understand you will be moving, so having boxes in the basement is perfectly acceptable. In fact, seeing them will also tell a buyer that you are ready to go. Keep the boxes neat and against the walls, and away from the door/entry.
Linen Closets – Have you seen how Martha Stewart folds her towels? Her website says: “A properly folded towel has a neat, fluffy appearance and hidden edges”. Towels should be folded in thirds, lengthwise, then in in half or thirds widthwise, depending on the length of the towel. That way, different sized towels can look more uniform because you can control the width of the folded towel in the first step. Stack like items together, like towels and sheets, and minimize the height of the stacks so they don’t tip. It sounds like a picky item, but it looks great when done this way!
Bedroom Closets (especially the Master Bedroom) – Wire hangers and dry cleaning plastic must be banished from all closets (“no wire hangers”)! They are unsightly and they can even ruin your clothes. Inexpensive white plastic hangers can make a closet look neat and uniform – and if you really want to get fancy – buy the wooden hangers (you can find good bulk deals at home and hardware stores). Make sure only shoes are on the floor, and minimize the items on the top shelf. A crowded top shelf, with a lot of items out of reach, could say the closet is too small and inefficient. Finally, don’t store anything in your master bedroom closet except clothes and shoes. Use other storage spaces for your books, luggage, paint cans (!), etc.
Kitchen Cabinets – Yes, buyers look through your cabinets, maybe not all of them, but at least the larger ones and the pantry. You don’t need to have your spices in alphabetical order, but food containers with overflowing contents, sticky shelf surfaces, and over-sized items preventing doors from closing just won’t fly. Kitchens sell houses, so make sure yours feels large, with plenty of storage space.
Garage – If you have a two car garage, then it should look like it! It’s better to store things in the basement then to make your garage look too small for a Mini Cooper (especially in Colorado – the land of SUV’s). If you have an extra fridge in the garage, it may be time to part with it. If you can store larger “toys” off-site (and that includes those for the grown-up kids – like quads, etc.), that’s ideal.
Although it’s crucial to make the living areas feel warm and inviting first, never underestimate the importance of storage areas to a buyer. A little extra work on those areas will help your home stand out, and sell faster.
And if you need a little assistance figuring out how to get started – give us a call! (720) 289-3986. We offer in-person (safe-distance requirements and/or mask policies will be followed), or even virtual staging consultations. They include a thorough room-by-room list to give you a detailed road-map so you can confidently prepare your home to sell. Call us for more information – thanks!