January 25, 2024 | Preparing Your Property For Sale
If you want to sell your house or condo for top dollar, I would suggest properly preparing your house for sale. Yes, it’s going to involve time and money, but a little effort and investment should bring a bigger return, well worth the cost of the preparations. Buyers tend to be drawn to a house or condo that dazzles them with few complications. In the real world, there may not often be enough time or money for everything, so let me offer a few tips on what you should prioritize if you want to maximize the value of your property.
KNOW THE FIRST IMPRESSION ZONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE OR CONDO
What is a first impression zone? Well, it’s the first major large space someone will see when they walk in the front door. If you don’t create some interest here, it is going to be difficult to win it back elsewhere. This is where expectations are set. This is where most people will make their decision. In a house, this would be right through the front door. This would include your living room, dining room, and kitchen if you have an open concept living/dining/kitchen area. So these areas should have most of your attention.
There are some basics to focus on in the first impression zone: You should have good floors. No weird spaces between the planks of your flooring. No soft and gushy underside to the floor. Hopefully fairly even, though older homes will naturally have some minor uneven spots. If you are replacing part of the floor, make sure it matches. In the first impression zone, you’ll also need to have freshly painted walls, and the furniture needs to be staged in a way where people can insert themselves in the property while still giving off a warm and stylish vibe. In other words, it should look like the showroom at a box store. It should look like actual people can live there. Ideally, you should have a good couch and a strong light feature in your dining room. In your kitchen, make sure all your appliances are working and there is very little on the counters. Again, these are the basics. There is much more you can do in the first impression zone. You should know who is buying your neighbourhood. Don’t stage for yourself. Stage for those who are buying your condo or house.
THE NOT-TOO-EXPENSIVE BUT IMPACTFUL UPGRADES
Some upgrades may not be worth your time and money, but there are a few that are fairly easy. Hardware in the kitchen and bathroom is easy to update. If you want to go a step further, upgrades to the faucets and sink can make a huge difference. If you have an 80s/90s kitchen, you can professionally paint the cupboard doors and provide new hardware, and your kitchen will be nicely freshened up. As good as new? Well, not exactly, but these hardware and sinks are easy to replace and really kick up the look of your bathroom and kitchen. The same goes for your shower hardware or the knobs/handles on your cupboards in the kitchen.
REPLACE THE OBVIOUSLY DAMAGED SPOTS
Nothing can derail a buyer like a property that appears neglected by the seller. Your property needs to show that it has been loved. Not perfect, but loved. That means having a handy person come in and do those little fixes you’ve been putting off. As an example, if your cupboard doors don’t close properly, then fix them. If you have a crack in your basement window, replace it. If you have a loose banister, tighten it up. Reduce the anxiety buyers may develop when visiting your home. They will be spending a lot of money. They don’t want to deal with fixing too many things right off the bat. If they do, they are more likely looking for a discount.
FIX THINGS THAT INSPIRE FEAR
Buyers are looking for reasons not to buy your property. There will be things about your house or condo that may be nothing, but could inspire a lot of fear. So, fix these as well. Fix water stains. Don’t just paint over them. Fix the problem, and then redo the damaged area. It is worth your time and money to make these fixes. Nothing scares a homeowner like a potential leak.
THINGS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT AS MUCH
Now, in the ideal world, we should put attention into the entire property, but if you want to spread out your resources, the basement will not require as much aesthetic improvement as the rest of the house. By the time your potential buyer reaches the basement, they may be mostly decided. If you can, make the basement look tidy and clean. Make sure it is not too full of stuff where it will appear that you do not have enough storage. To be clear, I’m not saying to ignore it completely, but it is a good idea to spend less of your time here staging if you are limited on time and money. Again, if things are broken or leaking here, that should be a priority. Fixes first. And not just a band-aid, but a real fix.
WHAT NOT TO DO
If you fancy yourself a designer, don’t make upgrades that are so specific to your aesthetic that they may not appeal to most people. Be careful with accent walls in bold colours or wallpaper. Do it for yourself when you live there, but not for the staging for sale. Art is a matter of opinion, but bad art or bland art can really give the wrong vibe for your house. And please, don’t set the dining room table with high-end silverware and napkins. The only thing on the dining room table should be some flowers. The buyers are not coming for dinner.
Lastly, I would not try to do it all on your own. Some people know how to stage a house or condo. Most people don’t. Even if you have a very good sense of design, there is a difference between designing for yourself or a friend, and staging a property for buyers coming through your home. Staging is different. It is a design, but staging allows buyers to insert themselves into the property. And you need to know who that buying avatar would be for your property. It has to be clean and generic enough so that someone can insert themselves in there, but it cannot be too generic where it lacks warmth or style. At the end of the day, if you want to sell your property, make sure you have your priorities right.