Girlfriend advice, real estate advice for friendsThere is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  ~Jane Austen

“Sure, you can definitely come over to my house,” my friend JennyLee says to a group of us. “Just please understand that I have three boys and two dogs and the house is just … well, just ignore the mess, ok?”

Her house is lovely. No one is likely to run over to shoot a three-page spread for Home & Garden magazine, but her home is warm and inviting, full of life and the touches that make a house a home. Which is exactly what we all want in our homes. There was nothing to apologize for or warn us about.

Fortunately, JennyLee isn’t trying to sell her house. Because as girlfriend guru CATHY PERRY tells us that a great personalized home is not necessarily easy to sell.

This week I had the chance to appear on the Real Estate Radio Network to talk mostly about a subject near and dear to my heart, as well as essential to a quick, profitable home sale – staging!  As a CSA – Certified Staging Agent – I shared some of my staging tips that can be done on a very limited budget with just a little bit of elbow grease.

It’s not fun to live in a home that’s for sale, so if your house is on the market, or you are thinking about putting it there, consider these cost-effective tips to make sure your home sells quickly, at a good price, so you can move on to your next destination and get back to living life as usual.

  • Clean! Buyers today are especially finicky. If you can’t afford to do anything else, make sure your home is spotless. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service to get in all the nooks and crannies most of us don’t clean regularly. And then make sure to keep up with daily cleaning tasks so your home is always ready for a showing.
  • Declutter! You are going to be moving soon, so look at decluttering as getting a head start on your packing. This is one time when less is truly more, especially for the photographs that are going to make agents and potential buyers want to tour your home. Get rid of the fridge magnets, and store the kids’ artwork for a place of pride in your next home. Watch out for clutter on shelves, mantels, and countertops, and take down the dust-catching ivy on the top of your cabinets.
  • Depersonalize – This is probably the hardest thing to do. Keep in mind that the home you love is now a product to be merchandised, and you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers and allow them to visualize themselves living there. Buyers (and agents, too) can get sidetracked looking at your family photos, trophies, and personal memorabilia, and miss the special features you want them to focus on. You don’t want the buyer to think of it as your home, you want them to visualize it as their home.
  • Neutralize. Buyers today want move-in ready homes, and they often think that work they need to do themselves is harder and more costly than it may actually be, so remove that concern. Consider a fresh coat of neutral paint, especially in your main living spaces, and don’t forget to touch up the trim. To find out what buyers like, it is as simple as going to your paint store and checking out the best sellers – if a color appeals to the majority of paint purchasers, it is likely to resonate with your potential buyers. The Sherwin Williams store closest to me publishes their best sellers right by the paint swatches. I recommend creating a flow throughout your home by using colors on the same paint card, which are designed to complement each other. Highlight a focal wall, for example, by painting it two shades darker than the color on the other wall. And make sure your paint color coordinates with your flooring and window treatments – if you are in doubt, take pictures with you to the paint store, and ask!

Bonus – watch out for all white walls, especially with light carpeting and even more so if the home is vacant. These spaces are very hard to photograph and make them appealing to buyers.

  • Inexpensive Updates. Some simple changes can help your home to feel newly redesigned and appeal to today’s buyer. Replace old kitchen and bath cabinet hardware with more modern knobs or pulls from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Menard’s is coming to the St. Louis area, and they have a great hardware collection. Update lighting fixtures. Replace outdated switch plates.
  • Don’t forget your curb appeal! Trim shrubbery to show off the front of your home, keep grass mowed, pull weeds, add a fresh layer of mulch, and depending on the time of year, keep a pot of bright-colored annuals on your front porch (keep it watered – having no flowers is better than having a pot of dying ones!). Make sure your front door is freshly painted if necessary, and that the key works smoothly in the lock!

Now sit back, enjoy a glass of wine with a good friend, and wait for buyers to fall in love with your home!

CATHY PERRY, our real estate guru, knows that buying or selling a home involves a lot more than looking at homes on the internet or putting a “for sale” sign in the yard.  With a background as a wealth management executive and an interior design entrepreneur, Cathy brings it all together into a concierge model of real estate services designed to give her clients the highest level of service and expertise. You can find Cathy at her blog or her website.

Any advice for home owners or sellers? What has worked for you? Share!

Thanks Girlfriend Guru Cathy Perry for your other guest blogs:

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