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Tips To Get Your House Ready To Sell

Professionals know how to make a house shine (and sell). Learn from some of the area’s best.

Staging the Sale
Ready to sell your house? Then it’s time to de-clutter, repaint, and trim the hedges. Heed the advice of some of Dallas top staging companies and reap the profits.

Imagine having someone walk through your home with a pad and pencil critiquing everything from your doll collection to the grime under your bathroom sink all while you stammer excuses. Feeling defensive yet? Now imagine paying this person for their barbs and thanking them for their sage advice. It may sound like your worst nightmare, but for countless people hoping to transform their houses from drab to inviting, all in an effort to sell them quickly (and for top dollar), hiring a professional staging company is a godsend.

If the house shines and is clean, people will think it is cared for, says Nancy Peham, owner of Helping Hands Personal Services. People might think they can sell their house and do nothing to prepare it, but you have to make it look guest-ready.

Few of us live in homes that are guest-ready, which is why so many are turning to staging companies for help. Some offer consultations for as little as $100, while others will stage your entire property (complete with appropriate furnishings and accessories) for a price-per-square-foot. Many are provided as part of the seller’s package offered by real estate agents. But no matter how grand or basic the project, staging professionals all agree that there are several steps any seller can take on his own to make his house stand out from the competition.

10 Simple Staging Tips
Every area of your house is different, but you’ll find that many of the space-specific tips can be traced back to one of the following three concepts. Keep these rules in mind when staging any room:

1. De-clutter. De-clutter. De-clutter.
It’s the mantra of staging companies, and it’s great advice for any seller. Remove as much as you can, from as many rooms as you can. Even a small room can be gracious, says real estate agent Nancy Martinez of Rigg, Martinez & Yoder, Virginia Cook Realtors. Take photos of your home and look at it objectively. Then, take a box and start removing items to reveal its bones.

After you’ve gone through the house once, do it again, this time paying special attention to those rooms where people tend to congregate (living room, kitchen, dining room). Almost all of my clients have too much furniture, says Tricia Stammberger, owner of Set to Sell. People have beautiful things, but they often have too many of them. Added bonus: Be sure to pack up superfluous items in moving-ready boxes to get a head start on moving.

Don’t forget these final tips to bring your house together.

Have a professional clean all windows and carpets.

A bowl of green apples or citrus fruits in the kitchen creates a clean, fresh look.

Place fresh flowers throughout the house.

Replace outdated hardware/fixtures for a quick, inexpensive update.

Remove pets during the open house and for as many showings as possible. Place cats in a spare room with their litter box and food if they must be in the house during a showing.

Consider placing lamps around the house to add warmth and set a proper mood. Be sure every lamp has the right style of bulb with the correct wattage.

Take out the garbage every day.

Consider placing fragrant oils with reed diffusers around the house as an alternative to candles or unsightly plug-ins.

When showing your house, play soothing music in the background to relax visitors.

Rent a storage unit to store extra furniture and other items you’ll take with you when you move.

Clean out the garage, and showcase any extra storage it has.

Create as much space as possible in closets, pantries, cabinets, and storage rooms.

De-clutter, depersonalize, and define every space.

2. Put it in neutral.
All of those great snapshots of the family vacation, the little messages of love on the refrigerator, even your collections of religious or political items they all need to be packed up. It’s not that your photos and collections are inappropriate, but they can be distracting and make potential buyers feel as though they are kicking you out. Family photos make buyers feel that they’re invading someone’s treasured home “you don’t want to force someone out of that house, says real estate agent Leeca Hickox of Allie Beth Allman & Associates. But be careful not to take it too far. When finished, the house should be warm and inviting, but it should also look as though it could belong to anyone.

3. Define spaces.
When I enter a room, I ask, ˜What is this room supposed to be? If its a formal dining room, make it that and not an office or toy room, Peham says. Buyers don’t want to see how you manage the space; they are looking for clearly defined rooms and areas that meet their needs.

Let’s get specific. Every space in your home requires its own special staging touches to make it shine.

4. First impressions matter.
The front of your house is the first welcome, and maximizing your curb appeal is a must. De-clutter starts in the front yard. Remove weeds, trim hedges, and open up the doorway to make the home more inviting, says Linda Pennington, owner of Redecorating with Style. Seasonal color in the form of flowers or ornamental plants are great attention-getters. Trees and shrubs should be clipped and neat “do not let them overgrow windows or entryways. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint if it needs one; clean light fixtures; make sure the mailbox and house numbers are in good repair.

5. Spacious living rooms sell.
Create space in your living area by removing excess furniture and personal accessories. Make the room warm and inviting, and use colors that appeal to the majority of potential buyers. We had a client who had hot pink and bright orange walls. They worked for her but didn’t appeal to 95 percent of potential buyers, Pennington says. We recommended earth tones. It’s also a good idea to make any interesting design element (a striking fireplace or great view) the focal point of the room by rearranging furniture and lighting to draw the eyes toward it.

6. When it comes to kitchens, be a minimalist.
And a clean minimalist, at that. This is one of the most important rooms to potential buyers, so it needs to be perfect. First and foremost? Remove as much as you can from counters. Store coffee makers, toasters, and other small appliances, and leave only the essential items in view. The same goes for cabinets and pantries. People crave space “especially in the kitchen” so create as much as you can.

Don’t forget to remove everything off the fridge door, and clean it out while you’re over there. Clean your fridge, Pennington says. People always look, especially if it’s staying with the house.

7. A clean bathroom is critical.
Every room needs to be clean, of course, but the bathroom must be spotless. The toilet, shower, and tub should be sanitized and sparkling. All tile, faucets, and mirrors should shine.

Once it’s clean, you’ll want to remove as many personal items from the room as possible. I recommend caddies for personal items in the bathroom, so you can move them out of sight after you use them in the morning, Stammberger says. It’s also a good idea to keep all medications and any additional personal bathroom items in an easy-to-remove bag. People need to look in the cabinets and under sinks, so remove any item that you don’t use often, and get rid of anything that you wouldn’t want others to see.

Finally, add matching fresh towels and decorative soaps to bring it all together.

8. The master suite should be an oasis.
People go to their suites to escape, so it’s essential that yours be appealing to buyers. All the same rules apply to this bathroom, too. In the bedroom, de-clutter by removing excess furniture “the room needs to look as large as possible. A beautiful bed with great linens will always make for a good impression in a master bedroom, even if it’s a little small, Hickox says. Many people make their bedrooms too personal to show, so be sure to remove family photos, heirlooms, and collections.

9. Clean it out: Create closet space.
Nowhere is de-cluttering more important than in the closet. Pick up everything on the floor and clear off as many of the shelves as possible. Overflowing closets are a huge problem, Peham says. They should be two-thirds full” put things in containers if you can. Extra room makes buyers feel as though their stuff will fit.

10. The patio is an outdoor room.
People forget that the patio is another room and an extension of the home, Pennington says. Be sure to keep toys away from the view, and remove any dead plants. When people look through the window, they are bringing the outside in, she says.


Design to Sell
Ann Kellogg Schooler and Nana Kersh Winters lead Schooler, Kellogg & Co.’s professional staging service. The company offers complimentary consultations, has a large supply of high-end furnishings (all for sale) for use in clients homes, and charges by the square foot. 4514 Travis St., Ste. 320. 214-521-7772.

Helping Hands Personal Services
Nancy Peham will visit your home and make a list of suggestions for styling the house. For an additional fee, she’ll implement those suggestions for you. 972-208-4611.

MCS Designs LLC
Cathy Schaffer, a member of the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (IRIS), offers redecorating and styling help for clients “whether they’re selling their homes or not. 214-212-9623.

Redecorating with Style
Linda Pennington, also a member of IRIS, does some construction and remodeling work, along with her redecorating and styling projects. 972-380-6400 or 214-850-1987.

Set to Sell
Tricia Stammberger and Keith Giese tour your home and give you and your agent a written report of their findings. Their fees are often handled through your agent. 8859 McCraw Dr. 214-378-8330.

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