Believe it or not, many people do not understand that the way we live in our homes is far different from how it should be presented at sale time. For example, we have two dog crates under our dining room table. It's very convenient for us, and the space is not used frequently. However, if we were to put our house on the market, those crates would have to go. The dining room would need to be presented as such, not as a kennel!
In today's real estate market, it's more important than ever to be sure sure your house looks great, functions well, and appeals to the broadest possible pool of buyers. In no particular order, here are some things I've seen in homes that are for sale, with recommendations. These things may have made the sellers' lives easier, but made it more difficult to sell their homes!
- Refrigerator in the dining room; of course, there was also one in the kitchen. I told them to move it to the attached garage.
- Freezer in the kitchen, crowding the valuable eat-in area. Again, the garage is a more suitable place.
- Water cooler in the upstairs hallway, visible from the two-story foyer. We moved it to the children's bathroom. You do not want people to think the tap water is bad as part of their first impression.
- Dog crate, bird cage and treadmill in the formal living room. I recommended they rent some appropriate furniture and remove the cages and treadmill.
- Bed tray with a bottle and wine glasses in the master bedroom. That's not staging. To really create a relaxing get-away, I told the sellers to get rid of the clutter, laundry, dog bed and children's toys crowding the room.
- Overabundance of Asian art, objects, furniture, and collectibles. These items are too taste-specific. We had them packed away.
- An entire family room wall devoted to model trains, all lined up on little shelves. Again, too taste-specific. The shelving needed to be removed, because they were not useful for anything else.
- A devotion to multi-cultural goddesses resulting in too much taste-specific art. By packing them up early, they remained safe.
- Valuable fireplaces blocked by puppet theaters, tables, and sofas. We provided floor plans that have good traffic flow and highlighted the focal point and key selling feature: the fireplace.
- Dark, heavy drapery dropped over the windows in the daytime. Light, airy rooms sell. Leave the drapery open as wide as possible to let in the light. Be sure the windows are clean!
- Shiny brass light fixtures. Updating them will appeal to more buyers, and lets them know you've maintained the house.
- Wallpaper and borders. Do not even ask. If you've still got them, assume they MUST be removed. Does not matter how pretty or new they are, buyers do not want to have to do the work themselves.
- Masks of any kind. Does not matter if they're from Africa or Mardi Gras, masks can be a little creepy. Pack them now.
- Oversized photos as art. It's not art that will appeal to buyers. Replace these pictures of your wedding or children with something more generic such as a landscape or abstract.
If you are preparing your house for the market, be aware of how each space is provided to function. Allow the personality and features of the house to come forward, not your own. Present it in as clean and updated a condition as possible.