My wife and I are staging our home right now in preparation for putting
it on the market. We're conscientious folk who are going to leave the
house in better shape than when we bought it with a number of
improvements and repairs we've made. We've been watching the usual
shows on HGTV/TLC etc that show people preparing their homes for sale
and we *think* we've got everything covered, but you can't be too safe.
Here's my question for those of you who have gone to an open house
with the intention of buying a home: What did you check for in terms of
cleanliness ? What did you check for in terms of features ? We're
going to hire in a lady we know to dust the tops of picture frames,
clean window sills, etc... but it's sort of like packing for vacation...
you don't want to remember that you forgot your swimsuit when you're
halfway across the ocean. So folks, what did you check for and what
impressed you ?
I like the shows on TV that you mentioned. I think they have a lot of good
advice. The first thing that I notice is how a place smells. Smell is such
a primitive and powerful sense. It can instantly bring up vivid memories an
evoke strong reactions. It is hard to know how your place smells because
you have gotten use to the smell. Maybe you should have someone you trust
walk through the house and give their opinion.
After smell, I think that you need to brighten the spaces by opening window
treatments. Along those lines, one of the things I notice is ceilings. It
seems that many people paint walls, but don't bother with the ceiling. I
would make sure the ceilings are bright white and free of cobwebs.
I also tend to notice corners. I see cobwebs on walls and accumulations of
dirt on floors. Sometimes you need to take a small brush to corners. Also,
carpeting can get very dirty along walls. Using a stiff broom to clean
carpeting along baseboards can result in a big improvment.
Clutter is a big problem that people can get so used to that they don't
notice it. Make sure you get rid of everything you don't need. Don't just
dust the picture, get rid of most of them, particularly family pictures like
snapshots and craft projects that the kids made at camp. Clean out the
closets and get rid of or pack everything you won't need. The less you have
in the closets, the bigger they will look.
Get rid of everything on the kitchen counter and all the refrigerator
magnets. Again, don't just clean the clutter, pack it and remove it.
Make sure the windows are clean. Paint the front door and polish or replace
the door hardware. Be sure that the outside light fixtures are clean and
have new bulbs. I would light the outside at night while the property is on
the market. People often drive by in the evening to see if it is worth
looking at the inside. When people come for a showing or an open house, it
might not be the first time they see the outside.
I disagree on getting rid of photos hung on a wall. I think it gives
it a 'homey' feeling when some personal things are displayed.
There's nothing worse than walking through a house that looks too
sterile and museum-like.
Well, my advice was general. Some people love clutter. If you want to
appeal to THAT target market, then leave the clutter. Obviously you can't
please everyone. I think that you will simultaneously appeal to a wider
market while avoiding offending people or triggering prejudices, by cleaning
and editing. I doubt that you will hear many buyers say "Gee Virginia, the
house was OK, but it sure needed a lot more pictures, throw rugs, and
Precious Moments figurines. Lets look for something more cluttered. I want
a house that I know has been inhabited by several dogs and a half dozen
small children. I know they beat the hell out of things, but I like that."
One reason for depersonalizing your home is to minimize things people will
find distracting or that will trigger prejudices. You might think the
family reunion picture looks precious, while home buyers may think that your
family looks like a Jerry Springer cast party. You never know. You don't
want the buyer to concentrate on what your daughter wore to the prom. You
want them to concentrate on the home. Home sellers are staging the house
for a wide range of potential buyers. They aren't trying to sell their own
lifestyle, but rather they are trying to clear the decks so people can
imagine themselves living in the house. I can think of houses that I looked
at that would have been far more appealing had they been completely empty
rather then decorated with a giant stained pine, crushed velvet covered
furniture and pictures of exotic animals painted on velvet.
We have a couple of real-estate shows on TV that give "tours" of available
houses. As much as I resist, when I see houses all clutter up with
brick-a-brack and god awful, dated, or pimpy furnishings, I tend to be
turned-off. I find myself looking at the freaky interiors and thinking
about the homeowner rather than looking at the house. I just can't think
about myself living in the room.
You would have a point if what I suggested wasn't common knowledge. You
don't have to accept my advice, just call some real estate agents or simply
watch TV. Browse the adds. You will consistently see the word "neutral"
used as a selling point. Clutter = small and poorly maintained. Both
translate into a lower price. As I said, you aren't selling your family,
you are selling your house to people who want to picture themselves living
there. If you know better than real estate professionals, then by all means
do what works for you. Also, what one does to effectively sell their house
isn't the same as what one does while living there. My home is not neutral
or free of pictures and other accessories. However, I would be smart enough
to stage the house for maximum appeal to get the maximum price.
My mother was a realtor for 25 years. She always advised her clients
to make their home look neat, tidy and "homey". Funny, her clients
never had trouble netting good prices for their homes.
You seem to mistake "homey" for mass amounts of junk littering every
I'm not entirely sure why you feel compelled to debate this, but
I think it depends what kind of market you live in. We live near
Sacramento, California, but in a rural small town. In Sacramento, houses
routinely sell immediately at above the asking price. People who have been
trying to buy a home for months and being outbid aren't too picky about
details like pictures and clutter. They just want to get in before someone
else makes an offer. In most areas, though, a little psychology goes a long
way. I've been reading books on preparing homes for sale, and they all agree
that the homes should be clean, well-maintained, and free of clutter and
personal items. The buyer should be able to look at the house and move
their posessions into it in their minds. Having too many items present, or
even having the owner present when buying, makes that difficult. Buyers see
too many little fixes and they presume that the house is in bad shape,
whether it is or not. It's natural to assume that you aren't seeing all of
I had an experience when home shopping that proves the point. We looked at
a house that was clean and well-maintained, and had a really nice back yard.
My husband loved it. But the man who owned it was there A very old man who
was, I believe, selling because he was widowed and moving into a smaller
place. At least that is the story I wrote in my mind. He was disabled, and
there were very old, beautiful pictures, of a woman whom I presume was his
wife. There were needlwork samplers on the walls. All I could think of was
how sad it was that she was gone and he was alone, and how someday my
husband might be selling this house after I died. There is no way I could
move into that house. It has too many ghosts.
I think the California real estate market is incredible! I was looking at
houses recently on the San Diego MLS. The cheapest house I could find in
the suburb that I was searching was a one bedroom, one bathroom house that
was 720 square feet. There was no yard and the house was on a steep hill
with a gravel driveway to a busy street. The asking price was $360,000.
Here in Cincinnati, that would get you a handsome four bedroom, 3+ bath,
family room, three car garage, formal dining room, and nice kitchen with a
full basement on a decent lot in a good neighborhood! Clearly, when you
are in a seller's market, you don't have to go the extra mile. However,
when you see the real estate "fix up to sell shows" that are filmed in
southern California, the object is to get multiple bids well above the
asking price is as short a time as possible. That would never happen here.
People take the first offer, and it is expect to be somewhat below the
listing price. People here will ask $190,000 and expect to get $186.00.
Houses stay on the market for 60 days before the owners think about reducing
the price. If you are selling after school starts in the fall, you can
often expect to have the house on the market for three or four months. Once
spring rolls around, the market heats up.
We're not in the "hottest" area, but we are expecting a fast sale. Our
realtor has set a range. We're going to put the house on the market at the
high end, and if it doesn't sell in 2 weeks we will drop the price to the
low end. It is normal for houses in this area to sell quickly and for the
asking price. Our home fix-up is more to ensure that we get top dollar and a
quick sale. Here's hoping. Oh - and $360,000 for San Diego is a bargain.
I only wish our houses were that valuable, but then again if they were, we
wouldn't be able to afford a home in the place we want to move. .
And herein lies the tale... Diane bought the house about 10 years ago
as her place of residence. Around 5 years ago, we both decided to quit
smoking and we met online in a suppport-group dedicated to helping
people quit. We fell in love, I emigrated from Canada to California, we
got married, and now we're just looking for a place with trees and green
because I was homesick for them. So, we're moving to the Sierra
foothills. Isn't that wonderful ?
Yes. All of it, including that you stopped smoking. I am an avid gardener
and I can't imagine living somewhere without trees. I spent so many years
living in city apartments where there was no place to garden and pets
weren't allowed. Moving into a house and getting pets was a life changing
: Vox Humana wrote:
:> :> Good luck on your sale. Did you buy the house with the intention of fixing:> it up for later sale, or did it just work out that way?
: And herein lies the tale... Diane bought the house about 10 years ago
: as her place of residence. Around 5 years ago, we both decided to quit
: smoking and we met online in a suppport-group dedicated to helping
: people quit. We fell in love, I emigrated from Canada to California, we
: got married, and now we're just looking for a place with trees and green
: because I was homesick for them. So, we're moving to the Sierra
: foothills. Isn't that wonderful ?
You need to tell them from **where** in Canada you moved, and to **where**
in California you moved for them to appreciate the whole story :-) I was
born in the town you're living in now, and I love it, but a lotta folks
would fully realize what a keeper is Diane if they knew the REST of the
By the way, if you want a nose to determine the odor-worthiness of your
place, you can always use mine. I offered to come up there a week or so
ago, but didn't hear back from Her Ladyship <G>
I'd buy your house in a heartbeat if it were a little closer to work --
but I really like my bike commute :-)
Tammy, who knows Eds and Diane from the aforementioned smoking cessation
Hi. I'm NewsOtter's wife He told me he posted here. Thanks to all for the
tips. I hadn't thought of polishing the door hardware, but we're spending a
small fortune (well, for us anyway) to make the front look good, and it
makes sense. Also, great tip about the night viewers. I hadn't thought of
that. We also have major cobweb problems (I let daddy long legs have free
reign in exchange for them getting rid of fly's and gnats for me - we live
in the country, and bugs are a problem). We have totally fixed up the
kitchen, and there is very little on the counters. I'm going to leave some
things out because it's a very large kitchen, and it looks kind of sterile
without anything on the counter. We rented a storage unit and have been
putting everything we don't need for a few months in.
I'm more than a bit worried about the smell issue. We have 4 dogs and a cat,
and I'm pretty sure that the house doesn't smell terrific. We are giving
potential buyers a "carpet allowance" with the assumption that the 10+ year
old carpets need to be replaced, but I've been thinking of simply having
them replaced. The problem is that if I were buying, I'd rather get my own
carpets installed than be stuck with somebody else's choice.
The carpet issue is a dilemma. I would also rather have the allowance, but
you might not get a decent offer with the old carpet. I think the only way
to know about the smell is to get someone who doesn't live in the house to
take a sniff. Carpet can hold an incredible amount of filth and odor. I
would look at similar houses in your market and see what the flooring looks
like. If your carpet isn't at least average, I would get some new,
inexpensive carpet installed. It would most likely solve both issues at
once. Painting is cheap and can cover odors. Washing window treatments
will also help. Spraying your upholstered furniture daily with Fabreez will
help. You can invest in some air fresheners. You might spray a new furnace
filter with some inexpensive imitation vanilla extract and turn the blower
on when the house is gong to be viewed. People know that they can change
the wall color or even the carpeting, but they may be nervous that they will
buy a house and never be able to get rid of odors.
If you are up to it, you may find that removing the carpet and replacing it
with laminate flooring is less expensive than getting new carpet. If you
have a Lumber Liquidator near you, you will find laminate flooring for less
than $1/square foot including the padding. You would be pressed to find
carpet for that amount. The down side is that you would have to do the work
yourself to save money. The laminate flooring would most likely add a lot
of value to the house - even more than new carpeting. We removed all the
carpet on our main floor two years ago and replaced it with laminate. We
also have dogs and I know the house smells lots better now and is easier to
clean with the laminate.
Door hardware. I had to remove the existing hardware and put paint stripper
on it to remove the lacquer. Then I used brass polish on it and cleaned it
with some alcohol and put on a new coat or clear lacquer.
Clutter. You don't have to completely strip you house. It's OK to leave
some stuff out.
I think the storage unit is a great idea. You have to pack things anyway so
why not get a head start and put the stuff you won't need in storage.
I have four dogs and a cat too!
I use incense. Before we have company, I clean first and then light a bunch
of GOOD incense about an hour before they arrive. Something clean smelling
like lavender. Everyone says that my house smells sooooo good.
What's under that old carpet? I found hardwood floors under my stinky
bedroom carpet. I just had to give it a good cleaning and it looks great.
We have hardwood floors, but they are badly damaged. At least the ones in
the living room are. I'm not sure about the bedrooms. I'm half tempted to
take up the carpet and see, but then we are committed to either replacing
the carpet or putting in new floors, and we've spent about 4 months on this
already. I'm so sick of fixing/cleaning/decorating/painting.
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