1.) Virtual Staging: 90% of homebuyers search online during their home buying process, so your first step should be staging your listings appropriately for photographs. If your online listings don’t catch the eyes of potential buyers, they will not be coming through your front door, Lisa Reinecke and Lois Marris, shared a must-follow list of virtual staging tips:
- • Remove decorative items from tops of cabinets; they can appear as clutter in small photos.
- • Don’t set the table. While china place settings are beautiful in person, it’s difficult to tell if the dishes are clean or dirty in photos. Real estate photos need to focus on the room.
- • Never show an empty space. If you have a vacant listing, invest in a whole-house staging to highlight how the space can be used with furniture that is appropriate for the size of the room.
- • Do it right the first time. Staging a home properly gives sellers a higher return, so don’t rush to get your listing online before the home has been staged correctly and you have professional quality photos.
2.) Digital photo gallery: If the homeowner has digital photos of the exterior (gardens, outdoor entertaining areas, pool area etc.), set up a photo slideshow in a digital photo frame and play during open houses. Buyers will be able to see the full potential of the home’s outdoor space, said Charlene Storozuk of Dezigner Digz. This tip is especially useful for homes listed during the off-season or in inclement weather.
3.) First impressions: If you don’t appeal to a prospective buyer in the first 30 seconds of them entering the home, then you’ve lost them, said Brian Capossela, president and broker, Cap Equity Realty. Potential buyers need to imagine living in the home, so aside from de-cluttering, sellers should remove all personal items (family portraits, items with family names on them, monograms, etc.).
4.) Downsize: If closets are overflowing, a potential buyer might think, “if there is not enough room for them, then there will not be enough room for me,” said Heidi Laros, real estate agent. Buyers seek lots of storage when house hunting. Encourage your sellers to clean out clutter in bathroom cabinets, closets and the kitchen pantry to showcase how much storage is available, said DeAnna Radaj, owner, Bante Design. Bonus: It gives sellers a jump-start on packing!
5.) Declutter: And we’re not just talking about knick-knacks. A major source of clutter is too much furniture. Examine the pieces in each room to decide what can be eliminated, and move furniture from one room to another. Turn a storage room into a home office by adding a chair and a desk, or into a sitting room with a comfy chair, table with a lamp and wall art, said Radaj.
6.) Presentation: To make the room feel larger, float the furniture away from the walls or reposition the pieces to create welcoming conversation areas. Increase the light bulb wattage to add warmth and vibrancy, said Shandra Ward, principal designer, Signature Designs Interiors & Events. Always make sure appropriate furniture is present; if there is a bed without a headboard or nightstands, buyers might feel the house is cheap, said Capolessa.
7.) Keep it neutral: Put away or pack up any religious and political symbols, said Diane Saatchi, senior vice president, Saunders & Associates Realty. Master suites should appeal to both men and women. Remove items that appear to be gender specific, said Ward.
8.) Back to basics: The decor should match the architectural style of the home. If the home is very sleek and modern, but the furniture and accents more traditional, buyers will feel disconnected and confused, said Capolessa. If painting, think classic colors & accessories. Stay away from anything trendy or distracts from the style of the home and neighborhood, said Radaj.
9.) Sell the lifestyle: Style vignettes around the home to illustrate the lifestyle a potential buyer could have. Buyers want to feel as though they’re living in their dream home. Set out champagne flutes or wine and cheese in an outdoor seating area. This will draw buyers to outdoor areas they may otherwise have overlooked, said Capolessa.
10.) “Simplicity in the ultimate sophistication”: Diane Wildowsky, Sotheby’s International Realty said, Our stager suggested a new coat of white paint and removed everything from the kitchen except a beautiful copper tea pot, we placed on the stove. Everything else was washed and cleaned to shiny perfection. In the bath we did the same: a new coat of paint, new shower curtain with matching towels, a nice soap dish with lavender scented soap. We painted an accent wall in both the bedroom and living room and re-positioned the furniture to give her a separate office area, which she did not previously have. Despite much competition in the building at the time we listed, we closed at the very price she paid for it three years earlier.
11.) Does it pass the smell test?: Homeowners are often so used to the smell of their own home, they aren’t able to detect it. Be honest and let your clients know if you smell something upon entering. Obvious smells like cooking odors and cigarettes can be eliminated by refraining from cooking and smoking before the open house. If there is a pet, be sure all pet items are removed, vacuum the rugs and furniture and use odor absorbers, said Donna M. Dazzo, president, Designed to Appeal.