Making houses look good to buyers

Realtors are advising clients who are planning to list their homes that it is well worth making an effort to spruce it up first.

And this isn’t just a little bit of picking up around the house. This involves organizing, staging and making the exterior and landscape more attractive. Prospective sellers need to “declutter.” They need to deeply clean, neutralize the color of walls, remove personal photos, use accessories for pops of color and add fresh flowers.

Buyers should be able to visualize themselves and their possessions in a home. Anything valuable or confidential should be locked away as the home is being shown.

Piles of documents, bills and statements should not be on any surface. This is also a security measure for the homeowner to help protect personal information. Shoes should not be scattered around and odors of any kind are a turnoff and often flag issues (i.e. moisture).

Pictures on websites advertising your home need to display rooms in the most attractive way to entice buyers. If a homeowner has a lot of antiques or older furnishings, it needs to be staged with more contemporary pieces to prevent the home from looking old. Too many pieces of furniture and accessories are a problem as well. This causes the rooms to appear smaller and overwhelming. Interior designers recommend at least 36 inches between big furniture and walls.

With regard to decorating, designers recommend that a room have one prominent print with subtle designs (i.e. polka dots and stripes) that are smaller in size than the dominant and be of the same colors. The rule of thumb for room color selections are simple — choose one color for 60% of the room with two accent hues comprising 15% each and a “pop” or bold color representing the remaining 10%.

In an older kitchen, replacing the refrigerator and counters have the largest return. If there are stainless steel appliances, keep them clean and shiny. If you have to choose between a kitchen or bathroom renovation, the kitchen should be chosen.

For many buyers and renters, central air continues to be a must. Hardwood floors are preferred over wall-to-wall carpet.

If a home needs updating, but appears well-maintained, buyers are more likely to consider it. Paint and a deep cleaning are necessary as are fixing problems. Be mindful that a prospector buyer will be doing a home inspection. Surprise findings can be costly and could jeopardize the deal.

Experts recommend that exterior changes be considered to boost curb appeal. That includes replacing or repainting/staining the front door. That might not seem like a big deal, but for a prospective buyer, the front door can be the first impression of the home. The color should not be bold. Rather, the door needs to be in keeping with the neighborhood. If hardware on the door appears old, it is worth replacing.

Windows should be clean and dressed in keeping with today’s trends. Shutters should be in good condition and, preferably, in a “monochromatic color that blends” with the home.

Sellers often forget the condition of the garage. It should be clean and organized. Old paint cans and gas containers should be properly stored or removed. These items should not be left behind, anyway, unless the buyer agrees. Doors should be in good condition as well.

Lastly, driveway cracks and stains should be addressed. If a homeowner cannot afford resurfacing, perhaps, resealing or patching with premixed concrete may be options if applicable.


Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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