Upper Cape Living: How to Stage Your Home for a Fast Sale

COURTESY REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATES - 340 Scranton Avenue - This bureau in the master bedroom of 340 Scranton Avenue is a great example of functional, unobtrusive and stylish furniture that fits with the shape of the room.COURTESY REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATES - 495 West Falmouth Highway- This Falmouth listing at 495 West Falmouth Highway highlights a clutter-free space. Buyers can easily understand how the space can be arranged and used.COURTESY REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATES - 79 Carriage Shop Road - This restored Waquoit victorian is a prime example of how a fresh coat of paint can brighten up a space, even in a 114 year old home.

If you've ever sold a home, you've heard this mantra from your agent:

Staging Sells Homes.

Well, here's the reason why you hear it all the time - it's 100% true. A properly staged home sells faster and for a fuller percentage of its asking price than a poorly staged one, or one with no staging at all. Staging is less intimidating than it sounds - for many homes, all it takes is a little decluttering here, rotating a table there, and frequent vacuuming, dusting and wiping. If it sounds like too much for you to do, there are professional staging companies and individuals that make their living getting an interior set up for sale, but for many homebuyers and agents, it just doesn't make fiscal sense to hire one.

Many elements of staging you can do on your own, and you can do it while you're not even thinking of selling your home. Staging closely mirrors intelligent interior design and furniture layout - you may even see results in the comfort and usability of your home. Here are some tips to staging your home:

No-Cost

Decluttering

Look, we all love knickknacks. They're a great expression of who we are and of our journeys around the back roads and small towns of New England. But they're clutter with a capital C. Try and limit the number of objects on display, and limit them to defined areas in your rooms. Never take up nice, clean wall space with shelves (unless they're built-in) and avoid large corner cabinets.

Clutter also extends to furniture. Avoid large pieces such as TV cabinets or living/family room hutches. They disrupt the flow of the room and limit the amount of space in each room. The golden rule of real estate is to make every room appear as large as possible - big furniture actively makes a room feel smaller. Stick to a couch, a chair or two, end tables and a modest coffee table for the family or living room, narrow china cabinets for the dining room and a basic arrangement for the bedroom.

Arrange For Floor Space

Buyers want to see floor space, plain and simple. They want to see as big and as clean a room as possible - remember, everybody needs their breathing space. Even with many pieces of furniture, you can arrange a room to leave well-defined routes around tables, chairs, and other furniture, and ample open space in the middle of the room. We cannot say this loud, or often, enough - stay away from big furniture! Unless the room can really hold a sectional sofa, don't buy a sectional sofa. If you have the means to do it, mount your TV on the wall and go with a minimal shelving unit to handle the cable box, DVD player and surround sound receiver. If you don't have the resources to do so, buy as small of a multimedia cabinet as you can, and whatever you do, don't put it in the corner!

Cleaning

This one needs little explanation. Keeping your home spotlessly clean is a huge help when putting it up for sale. Vacuum, dust and wipe regularly. Get down on your hands and knees and clean baseboards, trim and hard-to-reach spots. Trust us, it pays off. If you are selling your home, have it professionally cleaned before putting it on the market. Even if it's just paying someone to come in and windex everything it makes a big difference when showing the home.

Some Cost

Re-Painting Cabinets

Nothing turns homebuyers off more than a dated kitchen. It can be as clean as a whistle, but if it looks old and feels old, the home ain't sold! However, there's an easy fix for this problem! Rather than going out and paying thousands of dollars for new cabinetry, take a weekend and stain your old cabinets yourself, and update your hardware. All it will cost you is some of your time, some stain, and new hardware. Total all-in cost? Between $200 and $350 for a project that may return tens of thousands of dollars on your sale price.

Make Your Outdoor Space Make Sense

Curb appeal is a huge part of selling a home, and yours absolutely has to have it. To start, take a look at your home from the street. You may be surprised by how disorganized your landscaping, walkways and front porch looks! At a minimum, rake leaves and clean the lawn, and removed unhealthy or struggling plants. We recommend planting flowers or flowering shrubs to add to appeal - your local lawn and garden center will be able to point you to ones that survive our climate with minimal maintenance.

An often overlooked aspect of curb appeal are your walkways. Make sure they're damage-clean and free. Wash down concrete walkways with plain water or an environmentally-friendly cleaning mixture, and get on your hands and knees to clean brick of stains, moss and other junk that makes it look unappealing. The result is an impressive approach and entrance to your home - something both you and your future buyer will appreciate. A fresh coat of paint on the door won't hurt either.

Might Get Expensive

New Appliances

New appliances sell homes. Replacing a dated stove, refrigerator and dishwasher will make selling your home infinitely easier. Though it can cost you into the thousands of dollars, new appliances make a huge difference when showing and selling homes. They're the difference between an "updated" and "completely renovated" kitchen. You tell us - which sounds better? New hot water heaters, furnaces, central AC compressors and others are all potentially pricey fixes that do pay off in the long run. A good exercise is to ask yourself, "If you were buying a home, would you replace this within five years?" If the answer is yes, do it, you'll make it back on the sale price.

New Interior Paint

Paint is an under appreciated tool for making a home feel bigger, lighter and airier. Light or neutral colored walls can make a living room or kitchen feel bigger than it actually is, and it actually helps with home cooling in the summer. These colors are inoffensive to the vast majority of the buyers, meaning that you won't turn anybody off with a questionable choice on the color. Think back to when you were buying your home. Did the wall color turn you off of a listing or three? Avoid having that happen to your home. Though you can manage most basic painting yourself, hire a professional to do any ceiling painting, and also to tap into their wealth of knowledge on what colors you should and shouldn't use.

This column sponsored by:

Real Estate Associates was established over 40 years ago and specializes in Upper Cape Cod real estate. Our Tradition of Excellence, rooted in local expertise and combined with global reach, has helped us maintain our status as the #1 market leader in Upper Cape Cod Real Estate. Whether you're looking to buy a home, sell a home or rent, visit our website at www.capecodhouses.com, stop by any of our five area offices or give us a call at 1-855-680-0880. We'd be delighted to serve you! Click here to see past Upper Cape Living Columns

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