As a professional home stager, Lynda Schmidt notes that many homeowners trying to sell their homes often make the same mistakes:
- too much stuff
- dated flooring
- dark rooms, or
- startling wall colours
Lynda works with homeowners and real estate agents who see untapped potential in homes about to go on the market. “The biggest thing is clutter, too much stuff,” she says, referring to the clutter as “visual noise.”
With rooms filled with collections, family photos, religious icons, furniture and toys, prospective buyers tend to focus on the stuff rather than the room itself. If that first showing proves negative, chances are the buyer will simply move on.
“Every potential buyer only knows what they see, not the potential (of the house).”
Buyers will also zero in on specific items like that defeated old couch in the rec room. “Even though the furniture shouldn’t matter, it does.” Use slip covers or remove the couch all together. Also, think of furniture placement: in a small dining room for example, placing the chairs at two sides of the table rather than on all four sides will provide more space.
It is most important for sellers to “de-personalize” their space by removing all personal items, anything that smacks of the homeowner’s tastes or interests.
“Painting has the biggest impact and is the cheapest,” she says. “And remove old, dated wallpaper.” Removing extra furniture can also make a difference: a small living room with a couch, loveseat and three or four chairs makes the room seem cramped and small.
Lynda suggests having the bedrooms and bathroom appear unused. Remove cleaning products as well as personal items such as shampoos and cosmetics. Kitchens are also an issue, as homeowners tend to keep everything–from coffee makers to spice racks–on the counters. Clear it off. “You’re selling counter space, not the stuff on the counter. “Empty and organize your closets too.”
Repairs should be done before the first showing. Every flaw–from having to remove wallpaper border to updating the kitchen flooring–will give the buyer an excuse to “chip away” at the price. This can mean the seller loses more in the sale than it would cost to do the upgrades.
When she is hired to stage a home, Lynda rents larger items such as furniture. She has her own warehouse filled with everything from candlesticks to art work to give homes some oomph — which could mean the difference between a quick sale and languishing on the market.
“A high percentage will pay more for a property they can move into without doing a thing.”
Lynda Schmidt is the owner of L.B. Schmidt Creative Services and was one of the first Home Staging professionals in Waterloo Region. She has been in the buiness of creative visual presentation for over 25 years. You can contact her at email@example.com or 519-589-7456.