Decorating Don’ts When Selling

When you are ready to sell your house, you want the process to go as smoothly as possible. A quick sale at the best price would help you set forth on your journey to a new home with a positive mindset and hopeful outlook. To make this happen you need to prepare your home to attract a buyer. As you do, you must avoid a few decorating pitfalls that could put a wrench in your plans. Overall lovely homes have been known to scare off buyers when the owner doesn't understand what the customer wants and neglects to replace their all-too-lived-in look with something a bit fresher and more inviting. Simply put, homebuyers won't pay top dollar for a house that does not appear to be in ready to move in condition.

As you set out to determine what needs to be done to make your home turnkey, consider these decorating don'ts:

  1. Don't assume the buyer will look past your mess to see what a great home you have. For them a mess means problems. Does that puddle next to the shower mean you have let water seep under the floors and become a breeding ground for mold? Are the cracks in your tiles signs of deeper foundational issues? Sure, the inspection may prove everything is tip-top, but why should they bother with this step if they have already decided that they don't like the house.
  2. Don't be unwilling to spend money to spruce up your home. A few dollars for a storage unit, to buy new fixtures or to make repairs can mean more money in your pocket from the homebuyer. You may no longer notice the brick that holds up one corner of your couch, but a visitor will. Some well chosen rental furniture can really brighten up a room.
  3. Don't leave clutter. Extra furniture, piles of toys and stacks of paper should all be removed from the house. Those items that you might need sometime should go into storage. Act like you are moving now, and keep only a few things that you can't do without. As you go through your house, consider whether items are worth moving. Throw broken, unused or worn out utensils, tools, clothes, even televisions, away. Donate clothes, appliances, furniture or most anything that is in decent working order if it is in the way or has not been used in a long time. Consider whether you really expect to use the item in the future or if it could be a real asset to someone else. If you want to make a few bucks, see what you can sell at a yard sale or on the web. Put the things you plan to keep, but don't need to use right now, in storage. Stacks of boxes, even in the garage or basement, can make it hard for a potential homebuyer to see your home's true usable space.
  4. Don't display personal items. Photographs, sports memorabilia or even religious items can make a person feel out of place in your home.
  5. Don't completely empty the house. Buyers want to see a home that looks like someone lives there now, just not anyone specific. You want them to be able to imagine their family in that house. Leave a few neatly placed items in the refrigerator. Keep a stack of thick, fluffy towels in the linen closet. Organize clothes in the bedroom closets. Make articles face the same way; maybe even go that extra mile and arrange by color with like items next to each other.
  6. Don't stuff your closets and rooms so full that you make it appear that the house is too small for anyone to live in comfortably. The key is space. Leave room to walk and turn around. If you have to stand on your king size bed to open the closet door because there's no room in between, store the bed and rent something smaller.
  7. Don't neglect a thorough cleaning. Clean everything: windows, sinks, tubs, ovens, rugs, floors. Remove cobwebs in the corners, and wipe both sides of ceiling fans. Spray down exterior walls and wash away sand or oil spots from the garage. Hire a professional cleaner if necessary, but you will still need to keep up the small stuff like wiping countertops, washing dishes and keeping towels off the floor while you wait for a sale. Be sure to tidy up before all showings.
  8. Don't ignore needed repairs. People check for sticky drawers, loose cabinet doors and leaky faucets. Fix them, or upgrade them.
  9. Don't pull back from making upgrades because you aren't going to get the chance to enjoy them. Bring your kitchen and baths out of the last decade by buying new fixtures. That lovely brass-plated trim that looked great to you when you bought the place in 1998 may make it look like grandma's house to the young couple that plan to buy now. Check with the specialists at your favorite home improvement store to see what people find appealing today. When a house's decor lines up with a home seeker's expectations, the structure will seem more valuable.
  10. Don't go too flashy. When decorating your home, use neutral tones. Things like bold paint, mismatched furniture, mosaic tile in taste-specific colors or wallpaper borders can all distract from the home's potential.
  11. Don't hide a room's best feature. Use neutral-toned furniture or slipcovers and bright, carefully chosen accents to direct the eye where you want it to go. If you have a fireplace, place a vase or a couple of attractive knick-knacks on the mantle. Face a couch or loveseat and pair of side chairs toward the fireplace. If you have a lovely view, open the curtains wide. Make sure the windows are clean and the window treatments appealing, but not so overwhelming that they obscure the view.
  12. Don't use a room for anything but its intended purpose. A dining room should hold dining room furniture, not a couch or desk. Get advice from your realtor who may know if your extra room would serve you better as an office or kid's room based on the type of buyer likely to come through your neighborhood.
  13. Don't forget curb appeal. Some buyers will drive away from a scheduled showing without seeing the inside if the outside looks too unappealing. Mow the lawn, remove dead limbs and old toys, replace brown grass with new sod, add fresh mulch around trees or flowerbeds, fix broken sidewalks or porch rails, and make sure pets have not left an unwelcome surprise. If you can, upgrade. Buy new light fixtures, paint the window trim or put in a stone walkway in place of the buckling sidewalk. If you are ambitious, you might even replace a bland garage door. Many modern garage doors are designed to enhance the architectural appeal of the whole house by incorporating windows, textures, patterns, fresh colors and stylish handles. Last, but not least, be sure the house number is easy to read. You don't want to put a potential homebuyer in a bad mood because they can't find your house.

The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. "Storage Tips" are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see StorageFront's Terms and Conditions.

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