By Jean Patteson
RISMEDIA, March 19, 2010—(MCT)—Want to sell your home? Get out the bucket, mop and Mr. Clean. The key to making a positive first impression is simple, said Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV’s popular “Property Virgins” show.
“Get it clean, clean, clean,” said Rinomato. “If your house isn’t clean, it instantly sends up negative thoughts that the home is not well maintained. If your house is spotless, you’re ahead of the game,” she said.
But don’t stop there, advised Rinomato. To increase your chances of making a sale, “stage” the house to make it as attractive as possible. Until recently, “Staging meant pulling out all the stops—setting the dining table with your best china and crystal, arranging flowers, lighting candles,” she said. “Now we take the minimalist approach. Basically, you want to strip the house to its bare essentials, depersonalize it so potential buyers can superimpose themselves and their lifestyle on the house.”
Rinomato offered the following tips for staging a home:
1. Visit model homes and examine shelter magazines for inexpensive decorating ideas. Always keep in mind you are not decorating for yourself but for the general public.
2. Start with the outside. Give the house a fresh coat of paint, add shiny hardware to the front door and plant a few flowers to send a subliminal message the house is loved and well cared for.
3. Declutter every room to make it look larger. Get rid of family pictures, trophies and knickknacks. Closets and drawers should be no more than 30% full.
4. Invest in eco-friendly but bright lights. Open the drapes or remove them completely. “Light, bright rooms give the impression this is a happy place—and everyone wants to move into a happy place,” said Rinomato.
5. Feature only a few pieces of furniture with mainstream appeal. Pull pieces away from walls to make rooms look bigger.
6. Make sure a room’s primary use is obvious. A bedroom should look like a bedroom, not an office, hobby center or gym.
7. Bedrooms and kitchens are difficult to stage because they are in daily use, but make the effort. Clear everything off the counters and nightstands, roll up the rugs and hide the laundry hamper. Buff the cabinets with car wax and clean under the sinks. Invest in pristine white bed linens and towels.
8. Minimize the “pet effect.” Remove food bowls and litter boxes to the utility room. Deodorize thoroughly.
9. Organize the utility room and garage. Hang up the bicycles, roll up the hose. Renting a storage locker is worth the cost if it helps you sell faster and for a higher price.
10. Once your house is staged, invite your friends or Realtor over and walk them through to get an objective opinion.
(c) 2010, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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