| Jan 10, 2018
How can you make your home more attractive to potential buyers? The answer is with some “home staging”. According to the Wall Street Journal, implementing some basic interior design techniques can not only speed up the sale of your home but also increase your final selling price.
It all comes down to highlighting your home’s strengths, downplaying its weaknesses, and making it more appealing to the largest pool of prospective buyers. Staging an empty house is also important to help buyers visualize how the spaces would be used, and to give the home warmth and character.
Cohesiveness Is Key
Make the inside match the outside. For example, if the exterior architectural style of your house is Victorian or Craftsman Bungalow, the interior should be primarily outfitted with furniture styles from essentially the same era. Prospective buyers who like the exterior style of your home are going to expect something similar when they step inside. If the two styles don’t agree or at least complement each other, there is likely going to be an immediate disconnect for the buyer. Contact your agent to help determine the architectural style of your home and what makes it unique.
There is always room for flexibility. Not all your furnishings need to match, and even the primary furnishings do not need to be an exact match to the architectural style of your home. To create cohesion, you simply need to reflect the overall look-and-feel of the exterior.
The Role of Personal Expression
Every home is a personal expression of its owner. But when you become a seller, you’ll want to deemphasize much of the décor that makes a place uniquely yours and instead look for ways to make it appeal to your target market. Keep in mind, your target market is made up of the group of people most likely to be interested in a home like yours—which is something your agent can help you determine.
Your Goal: Neutralize and Brighten
Since personal style differs from person to person, a good strategy to sell your home is to “neutralize” the design of your interior. A truly neutral interior design allows people touring the house to easily imagine their own belongings in the space—and to envision how some simple changes would make it uniquely their own.
In short, you want to downplay your own personal expression, while making it easy for others to mentally project their own sense of style on the space. Ideas include:
- Paint over any bold wall colors with something more neutral, like a light beige, a warm gray, or a soft brown. The old advice used to be, “paint everything white,” but often that creates too sterile of an environment, while dark colors can make a room look small, even a bit dirty. Muted tones and soft colors work best.
- Consider removing wallpaper if it’s a bold or busy design.
- Replace heavy, dark curtains with neutral-colored shear versions; this will soften the hard edges around windows while letting in lots of natural light.
- Turn on lamps, and if necessary, install lighting fixtures to brighten any dark spaces—especially the entry area.
- Make sure everything is extremely clean. You may even want to hire professionals to give your home a thorough deep clean. Remember, the kitchen and bathrooms are by far the two most important rooms in a house when selling, so ongoing maintenance is important.
The Importance of De-Cluttering
Above all, make sure every room—including closets and the garage—is clutter-free. Family photos, personal memorabilia, and collectibles should be boxed up. Closets, shelves, and other storage areas should be mostly empty. Work benches should be free of tools and projects. Clear the kitchen counters, store non-necessary cookware, and remove all those magnets from the refrigerator door.
The same goes for furniture. If removing a chair, a lamp, a table, or other furnishings will make a particular space look larger or more inviting, then by all means do it.
You don’t want your home to appear cold, un-loved, or unlived-in, but you do want to remove distractions and provide prospective buyers with a blank canvas of sorts. Plus, de-cluttering your home now will make it that much easier to pack when it comes time to move.
Where to Start
Contact your agent for advice on how to most effectively stage your home or for a recommendation on a professional stager. While the simple interior design techniques outlined above may seem more like common sense than marketing magic, you’d be surprised at how many homeowners routinely overlook them. And the results are clear: staging your house to make it more appealing to your target buyer is often all it takes to speed the sale and boost the price.
Written by Tara Sharp
A house is comparable to yours in price if it’s in the same neighborhood, on a similar street, and in the same school district.
Before you put your home up for sale, understand how the right comparable sales help you and your agent find the perfect price.
How much can you sell your home for? Probably about as much as the neighbors got, as long as the neighbors sold their house in recent memory and their home was just like your home.
Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.
What makes a good comparable sale?
Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivision—and it closed escrow last week. If you can’t find that, here are other factors that count:
Location: The closer to your house the better, but don’t just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.
Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether it’s finished), finishes, and yard size.
Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?
Date of sale: You may want to use a comparable sale from two years ago when the market was high, but that won’t fly. Most buyers use government-guaranteed mortgages, and those lending programs say comparable sales can be no older than 90 days.
Sales sweeteners: Did the comparable-sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.
Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights
Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors’. Evaluating those differences—like the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement office—is one of the ways real estate agents add value.
An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.
More ways to pick a home listing price
If you’re still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen to her without taking the criticism personally).
Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?
Are foreclosures and short sales comparables?
If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.
A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who can’t pay their mortgage can’t afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.
Short sales are typically in good condition, although they are still distressed sales. The owners usually have to sell because they’re divorcing, or their employer is moving them to Kansas.
How much short sales are discounted from their market value varies among local markets. The average short-sale home in Omaha in recent years was discounted by 8.5%, according to a University of Nebraska at Omaha study. In suburban Washington, D.C., sellers typically discount short-sale homes by 3% to 5% to get them quickly sold, real estate agents report. In other markets, sellers price short sales the same as other homes in the neighborhood.
So you have to rely on your real estate agent’s knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.
More from HouseLogic
Carl Vogel, a freelance writer and former editor of The Neighborhood Works magazine, lives in a home in Chicago that is not typical of those nearby, so he appreciates a savvy comp.
The residential housing market has been hot. Home sales have bounced back solidly and are now at their fourth highest pace over the past year. Demand has remained strong throughout spring as many real estate professionals are reporting bidding wars with many homes selling above listing price. What about your house?
If your house hasn’t sold, it could be the price.
If your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house. See chart below.
The housing market is hot. If you are not seeing the results you want, sit down with your agent and revisit the pricing conversation.
That headline might be a little aggressive. However, as the data on the 2017 housing market begins to roll in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME!
The February numbers are not in yet, but the January numbers were sensational. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, said:
“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home. Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate…”
And CNBC says consumer confidence in the economy is fueling the market:
“U.S. home resales surged to a 10-year high in January as buyers shrugged off higher prices and mortgage rates, a sign of growing confidence in the economy.”
The only challenge to the market is a severe lack of inventory. A balanced market would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, there is less than a four-month supply of inventory. This represents a decrease in supply of 7.1% from the same time last year.
With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Let’s get together and discuss the inventory levels in your neighborhood to determine your next steps.