When your real estate agent is walking buyers through your home, they will ask questions to help the buyer envision their furniture and life in your home. Meier Real Estate offers staging advice and services to our clients, and we also want to share some rules of thumb you can use to improve a buyer’s experience and enable them to better engage with your home:
1. Staging: Aim to make your home look like a hotel environment. It should be in great shape, have just the right amount of functional furniture you need, and nothing extra. We always advise clients to try to make their home look as if someone could live there, but does not. When you walk into a hotel suite, it has all you things you need to live. You feel great because there is not a lot in your way. You have the best of what you need, and nothing more. We want people to envision the dream — they don’t need to worry about those details when they inspect the property.
2. Painting: Painting an apartment with scuffed walls should definitely be done as the increased sales price should far outpace the cost. The rule of thumb is: make paint neutral so that buyers see your home as a blank canvas and they can imagine whatever color they prefer. Lighter colors also make a place look larger.
3. Decluttering: Removing clutter makes your home look larger and more valuable. It helps buyers envision their future life in your home. The rule of thumb: try to remove items that get in the way of the buyer’s view. The farther they can see towards each wall, the larger your place will look. If they have to look around an object sitting in the middle of the room, they will feel like the room ends with that object. Try to avoid the buyer having to move around any items. If someone has to look down and move to the right or left in order to avoid an obstacle, (like a toy box, or magazine rack that could be places elsewhere), their mind will automatically think of the home as smaller, because they have to be more careful with every step. If you are on a football field, you don’t look down because there’s plenty of space and nothing to trip on. If you are in a small space, you look down all the time so you don’t step on anything.
4. Personal Photos: Remove them. You want a buyer to only think about what their life will be like in the space, not what your life is like now. You also don’t want them to try and guess how motivated you are to sell based on a picture they see.
5. Decoration: If you have an empty-looking wall, you might want to get a nice picture or painting to hang up. If you have an open space in your apartment that feels too empty, you might want to consider putting a piece of furniture in its place. We often find a great correlation between apartments that have great artwork and their ultimate sale price. When people feel inspired by the furnishings of the home, they take those feelings and attribute it to the home itself. They don’t walk away and say, “Wow, that place felt so perfect because of that painting, or that couch.” They just walk away saying, “Wow that place was beautiful, what a great job the owners did with that place, we could see ourselves living there.”
6. Scent: If your home has any unusual odors such as that from cigarette smoke, pets, etc., you should focus on eliminating them. There are many different tactics to this including room fresheners, carpet cleaning, and painting.
7. Light: Make sure your home is bright and has great lighting. This is most significant for homes that don’t get a lot of natural light. The rule of thumb: if a buyer walks in your door, they should not immediately think about how much natural light the apartment gets. If someone walks into an apartment and has to squint, they are not going to look out the window to see how much sunlight the apartment gets. But if they walk in and the apartment is a little darker, they are going to look out the window to see if it’s a cloudy day, or whether the apartment always dark. We have sold many apartments with no view and limited sunlight, but the lighting was strategically placed so well that the apartment lit up like a gem. Artwork was spotlighted, and light was distributed evenly throughout the whole space. Some buildings have concrete ceilings you cannot channel through to install the lighting, in which case you should consider placing enough standing lamps around the space. A few extra dollars on lighting will go a long way!