24 August 2017 - 14:03,
in House To House
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By Allison Moore of Warnock Real Estate in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Allison is a licensed real estate agent who has been selling and staging homes in Arkansas since 2014. As a Realtor-Stager, she combines a passion for the real estate industry, a background in marketing and an eye for design to help her clients reach their real estate goals. She currently serves as the Fort Smith Board of Realtors Vice President, is a graduate of the Realtor Leadership Academy and was awarded 2016 Rookie Realtor of the Year.
Preparing your home for the market can be an overwhelming task. What to do first? What is most important? Who do I look to for advice? Is the current real estate market a buyer’s market or is it a seller’s market? First and foremost, consult a Realtor who is familiar with your market and ask if they use the services of or can recommend a Professional Home Stager. Knowing what the market demands is key to getting the most money possible for your property and not overspending in the preparation process.
As a Realtor-Stager, I consult with clients who have million-dollar properties to sell as well as clients that are selling their starter home. The selling prices and the budgets available to get their home market ready are as varied and diverse as the clients themselves. Whatever your budget may be, there are steps that can be taken to get your property market ready.
If you have the means to do whatever is necessary to get your home market ready and budget is not a primary concern, now may be the time do some renovations. In some cases, I find that a seller’s timeline takes priority over budget. Updating kitchens and bathrooms may seem like major undertaking but can yield tremendous returns from your reno investment. As with anything, consult a professional. As I discussed in my last article, Is Your Home Interview Ready? we grow accustomed to our surroundings and have certain ideas regarding improvements. We can’t always see or know what needs to be done. The real estate industry professionals (Realtors, Stagers and Realtor-Stagers) will know exactly what the current real estate market demands and how your budget will best be spent. For example, perhaps your current market is a seller’s market and your property is in a high demand area. Most likely, renovations may not be necessary. If it is a buyer’s market and buyer’s must have at least 2 or more full bathrooms, it may be the time to convert that half bath into a full bathroom.
*If your budget allows and you are ready to do anything necessary, hire a Professional Home Stager and trust them to walk you through the entire process from pre-listing to marketing after your home is listed.
If your budget doesn’t allow for renovations, but you can do some updating or improving, the following suggestions will help stretch your budget:
- Paint! Paint is one of the easiest and most cost- effective improvements a seller can make. I recommend visiting model homes in your area to see what colors are being used. If possible, hire a professional painter to do the work. Make sure the color or colors chosen work with your existing cabinets, flooring and finishes. This is not the time to try the season’s trendy colors. Every home is different but choosing one color to use throughout the home can create a fresh and cohesive feel. Walls aren’t the only thing that paint can update. A dated brass chandelier or door knobs can be transformed with paints made for metal. Definitely hire a pro to tackle this job, unless you are a handy DIYer.
- Lighting. If you have the means to update lighting, use your money here. There are five areas that I suggest updating lighting: the entry, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and master bathroom. Some wonderful fixtures can be found in the clearance section of your local home improvement stores. Try to find fixtures that work with the other fixtures and finishes in the room(s).
- Don’t overlook the outdoor spaces. Make sure potential buyers can easily access the front entrance. Mow the yard and trim hedges. If your home’s exterior is looking a little tired, power washing can do wonders. Freshly painted trim, garage and front door can also bring new life to the exterior. If the budget allows, opt for a new front door. A new front is an easy update with a big impact. Consider new house numbers or a new mailbox. Remove the decorative yard ornaments. Curb appeal matters to buyers and can set your property apart from the competition.
*Consult with a Home Stager and based on their recommendations, decide which items you are willing to take on yourself and which items you need to hire them to do for you.
Even if you have little to no money to spend on preparing your home for the market there are three very important items that every seller can and should do:
- Clean, Clean and clean! A clean home that is dated shows much better than a home that is dated and dirty. There are many things that you cannot control during your home selling journey. A clean home is one of the controllable items! We all know that kitchens and bathrooms help to sell homes. They are also the areas that can get the grimiest. Polish and shine all the appliances and faucets, scrub floors and clean those windows inside and out. Don’t forget to clean fan blades and lighting fixtures. As mentioned above, tidy up the outdoor spaces. It costs nothing to pull weeds, sweep a porch or clean the windows.
- De-personalize! Take down all the family photos and items with personal information. I recommend this for two reasons. The first being a personalized space is not a neutral space. Neutral spaces appeal to the most buyers. The second reason is that I am of the opinion that potential buyers shouldn’t be given any more personal information about the sellers than necessary. Yes, certain information is public knowledge. However, let’s not give any additional information that could give any advantages in the negotiating process. My job is to protect sellers who list with me and trust me to help them get their home SOLD for top dollar. Less information is better. Remove diplomas, trophies, mail, and appointment reminders. De-personalize as much as possible.
- Pre-pack! Most buyers are looking for square footage and ample storage. Start packing away all those personal items as well as collectables and out of season clothing. Anything that takes up valuable storage space in your home should be pre-packed. If your closets and drawers and crammed packed with items, edit to 25 % of what they currently contain. Pre-packing also makes moving so much easier. Before I became a Realtor-Stager, I did this with a home we had listed. Although we didn’t yet have an offer, pre-packing made me feel like I was one step closer to closing day. Another controllable item! Check with local stores to see when they receive shipments and ask for the discarded boxes. Most are happy to do so at no cost. If possible, store your pre-packed boxes off site. It that is not an option, use attic or garage space. If you use the garage, try to stack neatly in a corner.
*If you have a little money to spend, hire a Professional Home Stager to do a brief consult, not a full room by room consultation. Ask for their top three to five recommendations for your home. Professional Home Stagers have levels of services they provide based on all budgets. Take those recommendations, enlist the help of a few friends, roll up your sleeves and you are on your way to a SOLD property!
House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.