RISMEDIA, April 18, 2007-(MCT)-Trying to sell [a] house? Take a good look around.
If you're like most of us, you've got stuff wedged in closets you haven't looked at since sometime in the '80s, the kitchen counter looks like an ad for an appliance sale and the living room has more toys on the floor than are actually in the toy box.
Most buyers would run screaming. But there's a solution, experts say. It's called staging your home.
The idea isn't the same as decorating your home, which is more about comfort and personalization.
Staging a home is actually de-personalizing or neutralizing the space, so a buyer can see him or herself there, said Missy Tackett, an accredited staging professional with Bedford-based Bayit Designs.
"You've got to look at your house through the eyes of a buyer," she said.
Tackett and business partner Cindi Brand, who've been friends for 10 years, opened their business late last year.
Gigi Larmour-Goldin, a broker associate with RE/MAX and president of the Bloomington Board of Realtors, also offers staging services to her clients.
"It can help drastically," she said. "Statistics show your house will sell in less time and for more money."
The three offered a few tips to would-be sellers:
Clean out the closets, clear off the bookshelves and pack up your prized collection of Star Wars toys. You'll get a head start on packing — and your house will look larger.
"People look when they're buying," Tackett said. "If the closets are cluttered, they won't think you have too much stuff. They'll think there isn't enough storage."
Don't forget to look outside your home as well. Dead plants, old Christmas decorations and grungy patio furniture must go.
Pack up those refrigerator magnets, clear off the kitchen counter tops and take down the huge wall of family photos. And don't forget to put away all the toiletries in the bathroom — yes, even contact solution and your toothbrush.
"It's the feeling you get when you walk in," Tackett said. "You want it to feel fresh."
But don't go overboard, Larmour-Goldin said. "If you take everything down it can look stark and cold," she said.
3) Clean, clean, clean.
You're aiming for Q-tip clean, Brand said.
Wash the windows and clean curtains and blinds.
Don't forget the ceiling fans, the bathtub, woodwork and, if necessary, give walls a fresh coat of paint. Clean the carpet and pack up your rugs — too many could make it look like you're trying to hide problems.
A tip? Don't forget the vent covers. "Those can get filthy," Larmour-Goldin said.
Make sure furniture is placed in a flow pattern that shows off the size of the room.
In the living room or den, for example, organize the couch and chairs around a focal point — the view, a fireplace or even the TV, Brand said.
Becky Gavin, who offers her services through her Bloomington-based business Creative Spaces, said she once reorganized a client's furniture to showcase both a two-acre view and a fireplace.
"That's the advantage of a professional — they can come in and really see with fresh eyes," she said. "People don't really see their homes they way a professional would."
Open all the blinds and turn on the lights so the house looks bright and open.
"Sunshine is the world's best decorator," Larmour-Goldin said.
Use unscented candles if you burn them — too much heavy scent could make buyers wonder what you're trying to cover up. Turn some music on softly.
And if you've got pets, send them to live with a friend for a week or so to make sure the house smells fresh and clean.
It may seem like a lot of work, but Tackett and Brand said the trouble is worth it — particularly for your wallet.
The two said staged homes see an average increase of nearly 7% in the sales price and stays on the market an average of 50% less time.
Copyright © 2007, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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