How to prepare your home for sale during COVID-19
To describe this spring’s real estate market as unlike any other is an understatement. Though both real estate land registration services and real estate agent services are deemed essential services in Ontario and tools like virtual house tours are available, you may have decided to press ‘pause’ on plans to sell your home.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps now to prepare your house for sale once you feel comfortable. That includes staging your house. Home staging has quickly become one of the most effective real estate marketing strategies in the industry because of the potential value it brings to both homebuyers and sellers. It could be even more valuable once measures designed to combat the pandemic are lifted.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors (www.nar.realtor/reports/profile-of-home-staging), 83 per cent of buyers’ agents say staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize a property as their future home. That makes sense because buying a house is more than a financial decision – it’s also an emotional decision. Making a property as welcoming and appealing as possible allows buyers to imagine a new chapter in their lives there.
Many staging techniques require simple elbow grease while others will cost money. If planned properly, think of those expenses as an investment. According to the NAR report, 25 per cent of sellers’ agents said staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market. More than a third of buyers’ agents said staging increased a home’s dollar value anywhere from one to 10 per cent. On a $400,000 home, that could mean an additional $4,000 to $40,000 in returns.
Home staging isn’t just about decorating but making your home move-in ready. Buyers will deduct every problem they see from their offering price and if they see too much work, they might pass on making an offer completely. Generally, your efforts should be designed to appeal to the widest possible range of buyers. Here’s how:
Make necessary repairs.
Over time, you may have grown so accustomed to your home’s ‘imperfections’ that you barely notice them, but prospective buyers likely will. Walk around your house and make note of problems with floors, doors, windows, ceilings, fixtures or plumbing. If you’re handy, consider tackling some of the repairs yourselves. If not, plan to hire a professional.
Clutter distracts buyers from your home’s features and suggests a lack of storage space. Go through your closets, cabinets and drawers and donate or sell items you no longer need or use. Remove small appliances from your kitchen counters, expect perhaps for a nice coffee maker. As you’re putting away knickknacks, remove personal items like family portraits and art that’s hanging on your fridge.
Give purpose to each room.
Each room or space in your home should have a defined purpose so buyers can better envision how to maximize the home’s square footage. A finished basement can become an entertainment room and a junk room can become a guest bedroom or office. Even if the buyer doesn’t plan to use the room for the same purpose, he can see that every inch of the home – including alcoves – is usable space.
Pay attention to furniture.
Make sure furniture is the right size for the room and don’t clutter a room with too many pieces. Furniture that’s too big will make a room look small, while furniture that’s too small or too sparse can make a room feel cold. Arrange furniture in a way that makes each room feel spacious and comfortable while highlighting unique features, such as a stunning fireplace or incredible view. Buyers like homes with good flow so be sure you can easily make your way from one room to another without bumping into things.
Touch up and repaint.
A fresh coat of paint is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to fresh up a home. At the very least, go through your home room by room and touch up any chips and smudges. If any rooms are painted in bold or bright colours, repaint them with a warm, neutral hue. Baseboards, doors, windowsills and ceilings might benefit from some TLC too!
Steam clean dirty and stained carpet, especially if it traps offensive odours. Often, replacing tattered and dated flooring – especially with hardwood in common areas like the living and dining rooms – offers a huge return on investment but make sure whatever you choose is in keeping with the value of your home.
Lighting and fixtures.
Swap outdated or broken light fixtures with modern ones and give fixtures that you plan to keep a good cleaning. Change dirty or dated lampshades, replace burned out bulbs and add supplemental lighting in rooms where necessary. Change outdated plumbing fixtures as well as cabinet door and drawer handles and pulls.
Upgrade your curb appeal.
Make sure your lawn, hedges, trees and gardens are well maintained. Consider planting flowers and adding hanging pots. Remove clutter, power wash the exterior, repaint the front and back doors, and invest in a new doormat and possibly a new door handle. Create welcoming outdoor spaces – on the front porch if you have one and in your backyard.
Clean, clean, clean.
Make sure your home sparkles, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. That means getting rid of surface mould in bathrooms, scouring shower doors, cleaning kitchen appliances, and getting into nooks and crannies. Pay attention to odours but be careful of deodorizers that may give your home an institutional smell.
Prepare the paperwork.
Dig out the paperwork your realtor and prospective buyers will need, including utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.
Wondering if you’ve covered all the bases? Realtor.ca offers a helpful checklist here: https://www.realtor.ca/Residential/Resource/en-CA/Home_Ready_Checklist.pdf. If you’re not sure where to focus your efforts or how to get the biggest return on your investment of time and money, my knowledge of the local market can help you make sounds decisions. I’m happy to chat over the phone or meet with you virtually while social distancing measures are in place.