Friday, April 25, 2008

5 easy ways to sell your home faster

You don’t have to take on a full-fledged renovation to get prospective buyers interested in your house—in fact, that may even turn some people away in a challenging market. After all, every penny that you’ve sunk into an obvious upgrade is money that the seller is mentally adding up as a factor in the price—and may represent an aesthetic choice the buyer would not have made. (Cancel that appointment at the Sub-Zero showroom, STAT.) There are simple ways, however, to make your home seem infinitely more appealing with very little investment—and very little effort.

1. If you do only two things before showing your house, clean, and clean some more. “People want to come into a space and visualize themselves living there,” says Manhattan-based Corcoran Group sales broker Jeanine Schlifer. “If there are spills on the table, toys on the floor, and dog mess everywhere, people can’t focus on the space.” It’s worth it to hire a professional to come in for a deep-clean, as they may find dirt in places you can easily overlook, like scuffs on walls and smudged light switch plates. Nadia Geller of the new TLC show Date My House says that buyers pay most attention to the entryway—the first-impression spot for most visitors—as well as the kitchen and the master bedroom; those rooms in particular should be immaculate. The same goes for any architectural details (such as a fireplace) that might be called out on a spec sheet, Geller adds.
2. Accentuate the positive, camouflage the negative. If you have large windows or a great view, hang long, simple curtains to accentuate them. (Hanging curtains from just above and outside the window frame will also make ceilings feel higher and windows more impressive.) If you have spacious rooms, remove any too-bulky furniture or unnecessary pieces that would make the space feel cramped. Geller suggests looking at furniture catalogs to get ideas for pleasing furniture proportions, arrangements, and an idea of how many pieces to keep in a room. If your closets are tiny, pull out some of the clothes and store them elsewhere. “You don’t want it to look like you couldn’t fit one more thing on the rack if your life depended on it,” Schlifer says. A kitchen counter top cluttered with appliances can similarly make a buyer feel there will be no place to store their things; packing some of that away in cabinets will create the illusion of more space.
3. Appeal to the widest possible audience. If you have a hot-pink accent wall, paint over it with a more neutral shade that matches the other walls. Pack away that collection of Star Wars figurines. Stash kids’ toys or dog toys in another room. “Remember that you’re selling your home, not your personality,” Schlifer says. And a prospective buyer who hates dogs could get hung up on your giant training crate and pile of rawhide bones. (Be sure to also take pets to a friend’s house or a kennel and vacuum well before any showings—a sneezing, fur-allergic buyer is not a happy one.) Thin out your collection of trophies, knickknacks, and personal photos on bookshelves, and replace them with more books—even books from a secondhand store or thrift shop, says Geller; they’ll have a more universal appeal.
4. Create a welcoming environment. “You want buyers to make an emotional connection to your home,” Schlifer says, and you can go a long way toward achieving that by making the space feel warm, bright, and fresh. Replace dim light bulbs with new ones and make sure there is a pleasant, but not overpowering, smell in the house. (Try baking cookies or setting out a scented-oil diffuser.) Place fresh guest soaps in the bathroom, hang a new shower curtain and neatly fold matching bath towels. Purchase fresh flowers—a bunch of all one variety makes the cleanest statement—and put them out in a simple vase. Open the windows before people come in to let some fresh air blow through. The ultimate goal is to make people feel so good in your house or apartment, they won’t want to leave—ever.
5. Develop a quick-clean plan for last-minute showings. You never know when a realtor may have an interested client, so it’s important to have a speedy cleaning plan for spontaneous appointments. Invest in a nice-looking storage trunk for stashing day-to-day clutter in a hurry and make a habit of kicking up your regular cleaning routine a notch so there’s less to do before a visit.

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