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Preparing Your Home for the Virtual Tour

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RISMEDIA, April 18, 2008-As more buyers are turning to the Web to begin their home search, sellers in today’s market are relying on virtual tours for that oh-so-important first impression. If you are selling your home this spring, take some time to get it virtual-tour and open-house ready. Your extra spring cleaning will pay off with more interested buyers and a faster sale.

“Realtors® have experience in staging virtual tours and can offer you tips to attract buyers,” said Virginia “Ginger” Downs, CEO of the 15,000-member Chicago Association of Realtors. “By following a few simple guidelines, you can make the changes necessary to help your home shine above the rest.”

Virtual tours show buyers a 360-degree view of the interior of a home and allow them to narrow their home search conveniently from their personal computer. Since potential buyers will be sorting through hundreds of photos and virtual tours throughout this process, it is important to understand that your home looks different through the lens of a camera than in person.

Just as you would prepare for an open house, prepare for your virtual tour shoot by removing clutter. Move personal belongings out of sight or use this as an opportunity to donate or throw away items that you no longer use. The goal is to maximize the space of your home and depersonalize it enough to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

Here are some tips to cut down the clutter:

- Remove excess furniture to make rooms look larger.
- Clear off the kitchen counter and hide everyday items, such as kitchen utensils, toasters, hand soap and magnets on the fridge.
- Store children’s toys, bicycles, gardening tools and other clutter out of sight.
- Place toiletries and cleaning products in cabinets or closets. Most virtual tours will only photograph the major rooms in your home.
- Take family photos off of walls and shelves while the home is being shown.
- Recycle old magazines and newspapers that take up extra space throughout the home.

“Realtors have photographed numerous virtual tours, and can act as sort of a producer for the shoot,” said Ginger Downs. “For example, think about the elements of your home that attracted you to it in the first place. Maybe it was the high ceilings or historic features? Work with your Realtor to ensure that the virtual tour really embodies the spirit of your home and shows off its finest characteristics.”

The next step is to give your home a good, thorough cleaning. Since cameras often capture more than the eye can see, it is important to spend some time cleaning your home from top to bottom. Areas that are often overlooked during the cleaning process include windows and stainless steel appliances. Be sure to keep them streak free and clean to ensure the best photo.

Another cheap way to prepare your home for buyers is to brighten it up by replacing old or dim light bulbs. Consider using a higher wattage light bulb in rooms or areas that don’t get direct sunlight. You can also add a brightly-colored throw or vase to lighten up a space that has dark flooring or furniture.

Some other tips to consider for the virtual tour include:
- Take your own
digital photographs to see how each room looks on camera.
- Get layout and style ideas from home and design magazines.
- Don’t forget about ceilings and floors. Most virtual tours today show all angles.
- Limit seasonal decorations.
- If exterior photos are included, park vehicles elsewhere and make sure your lawn is freshly mowed and garbage cans are out of sight.

The Chicago Association of Realtors has a variety of consumer resources available at www.YourIllinoisHome.com/Chicago.htm. Click on ‘Selling’ for ideas, including tips for sprucing up the home for sale.

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