Four Thrify Tips for a Summer Home Sale

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
I'm guessing you want your home on the market to sell quickly. You want a good price, and you don't want to spend more money than you need to.

But, you're thinking, "Today's home buyers are used to seeing those picture-perfect homes on home-decorating shows. I don't have that kind of experience or cash!"

Don't let these celebrity stagers intimidate you. You can stage your own home and attract buyers, even the ones spoiled by too much HGTV! And even if your staging budget is small.

Summer is when you'll have the biggest pool of buyers. That fact works in your favor. Some of these buyers will be under pressure to make a purchase offer in time for the new school season to begin. Others want to be settled in before the end of the year and the holidays.

It's up to you to use your funds and energy in ways that pay off. Here are my top four ways to do just that.

Focus on the details 

I can't stress this enough: You don't need to remodel your home. It's true that 58% of homeowners say they plan to spend money improving their homes in 2019, but will they spend where it matters to buyers? Many of those spenders are planning to stay in their home long term. Even though a total kitchen renovation has an average return on investment of 82.7%, it's not essential to every home. A major home improvement project needn't be on your to-do list.

You can't fake a remodel, but you can add budget-friendly upgrades that give your property a cared-for, contemporary appearance. That's what staging a home is all about!

Make sure your home has a summery look. It's time to replace those furry pillows with more colorful ones, possibly floral if that's your look. Bright pillows on outside chairs look perfect.

Get rid of reminders of winter's unpleasantries -- show shovels, boot racks, and scatter rugs at entrances.

Consider replacing the knobs and drawer pulls on your kitchen and bath cabinets. You can also replace the mirror in your master bathroom and update the faucets. Overhead light fixtures are another economical touch.

These simple touches will give your home the facelift you need without the pricey remodel.

Any season that allows outdoor living is a season that calls for exterior staging.
Second-hand furniture with a fresh coat of paint
and some new cushions will return the investment.  

Step outside 

Just like a kitchen remodel, landscaping often comes with a high return on investment. But that doesn't mean you need to revamp your entire yard.

Neatness counts. Start by using the tools and skills you already own to do the following:
  • Keep your lawn mowed and healthy. Ask your county extension agent for advice if you have problems. They are the turf experts for your area. 
  • Prune any shrubs or trees in your yard that need a haircut. Just this step gives your landscape a manicured look. I have blogged about the best way to prune.
  • Pull weeds or use an herbicide to get rid of weeds from the pathways, mulched areas, and anywhere else they shouldn't be growing.
  • Remove any distracting yard art or small decorative items from around your building. Again, neatness.  

Jazz up the exterior focal point

You want visitors on a home tour to be drawn to your front door. That's the focal point of your curb appeal and where they will form first impressions.

Here are my favorite cost-effective ways to improve your exterior entryway.

Deep clean the area. Remove anything that's in the way, that hints at a maintenance problem, and anything that doesn't add to the perceived value of your property. Regularly sweep the steps, walkway, and even the door and the trim around it to get rid of dust and cobwebs. Paint the front door if necessary. I blogged about how to paint a door without removing it. 

A new doormat does wonders for freshening up an entranceway. This is the kind of staging purchase that I like because it's not expensive and you use it at your next home, especially if you buy one that doesn't have a seasonal color scheme or message.

Summer is an easy time to find some colorful plants to make a home look special and loved. The larger the container you use, the better. I would rather see one giant planter than a few smaller ones. Keep it next to the door and make sure it gets watered, fertilized, deadheaded, and otherwise tended so it looks as close as possible to something the florist just delivered! Choose annuals that will bloom all summer, right up to your closing date.

Replacing those rusty exterior lights doesn't have to cost much, and spray-painting the existing ones will cost even less. Whatever you spend will go a long way to adding that cared-for look. Not only do lights outside your door make your home feel cozier but they also serve as extra security (burglaries happen every 15.4 seconds and small security features like lights and locks can keep thieves away).

A front door can make a statement when it's this pretty. Imitate the look
with new or painted hardware and light fixture.
Photo: Atlantic Coastal Enterprises.

Find furniture

Empty rooms don't help a home sell. Vacant, unstaged homes are less likely to sell than homes that have furniture and decor. Good home staging makes potential homebuyers envy your wonderful lifestyle.

If you need to stage an empty property and don't have the furnishings to do it, you still have a few choices.

One is to make your move to your next home, but leave large pieces of furniture behind until closing,  and add some inexpensive pieces to complete the look. These inexpensive pieces might be big box specials, garage sale finds, craigslist bargains, or things like faux beds. Sometimes, all it takes is some DIY window treatments, a few pieces of wall art, plants or flowers, and some properly arranged furniture to stage a room successfully.

I understand that this approach means "moving twice," and I know that's not going to work for many of you. Some homes can still look good to home buyers when they are partially staged. Can you leave some rooms unstaged totally and do an awesome job in the important rooms -- kitchen, baths and master bedroom? These are usually the easiest rooms to stage. 

Some of us use the excuse of moving to a new home to purchase investment pieces or decorating accessories we've been craving. If you can justify the expense, this approach will make your staging more impressive.

I also suggest to sellers that they might borrow certain furnishings from friends or family. I would limit this to indestructible items like tables, side chairs, sturdy lamps, paintings, or nightstands. Nothing precious, expensive, or fragile!   

Another approach is to rent the furniture that can make your home look showroom-ready. There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. There's bound to be one near you that rents furniture. Some of them provide furniture specifically for staging. Summertime staging calls for less furniture to make rooms look cool and relaxing.

Get the  look, get the book

You can make a home to look inviting, even if you're on a budget. I show you how in my $4.99 home staging eBooks. Download now and start today making your home more desirable to buyers.

Top photo: Kerry Spears Interiors

Location, location...How to Sell Your City

Friday, June 14, 2019
I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina (again), one of my favorite cities!

And it's not just me. Charleston has been voted the best city in America in Travel + Leisure Magazine since 2013! The swaying oak and willow trees pair perfectly with the brightly colored historic buildings that line streets bursting with shopping and dining options. Music, art, parks, beaches, and good ole Southern hospitality -- it's all there for residents and visitors. And home buyers.

As I was enjoying the mild, early summer weather and, yes, too much Low Country cuisine, I was reminded of how important it is for home sellers to market a home's location.

Realtors Know 

We've all heard the expression, "Location, location, location." If you are selling your home, it's smart to capitalize on what's best about your city, town, state, and even your particular street.

The first step is to be aware. Learn the history of your city. Whether it's a new-ish subdivision or a city as old as Charleston, know who built it and why. Learn the specifics of your area's demographics, taxes, schools, and climate.

When asked, most Americans say that security, relaxation, and freedom make up the ideal happy home. If you're familiar with life in the South, you know that these characteristics are fully embodied by Charleston. Examine what your particular location offers in the way of things like safety, recreation, and local amenities. If your Realtor doesn't have the stats, it's easy to research all these things on sites like Wikipedia, and the websites of your local and state government.

In the last house I sold I placed a neat stack of printed sheets showing photos of local attractions, including the distance to the nearest dog park, coffee shop, boat ramp, library, grocery stores, and other perks. Not every Realtor who shows your property will know what your neighborhood has to offer.

Sell the climate

The weather of America's Southeastern states is a plus to many people, especially those who love to spend time outdoors, either relaxing or being more active, and those moving from areas where winters are long. While the summers can get hot and humid, Charleston enjoys mild temperatures year-round (the average is a comfortable 65.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Outdoor spaces like this Charleston courtyard,
sell properties. Make yours
part of the package
by staging it to local traditions.
Photo: Charlestoncvb
What does the climate allow in your neck of the woods? Does the weather encourage outdoor activities like hiking, golf, swimming, or skiing? There are ways you can drive this point home to those on a home tour. Frame a map of the area that shows hiking trails. Stage a hallway closet with golf clubs, or post a schedule from the country club on the bedroom dresser. Hang photos of the ski slopes where you need wall art.

Nearly everyone likes sunshine, so when you stage, let as much natural light into the living spaces as possible. Keep window treatments light and away from window openings. You can also place mirrors opposite windows to let the light fill the room.

Let your outdoor spaces demonstrate the value of your local weather. If summers are brutally hot, place seating in a shaded spot. And make sure your air conditioning is up-to-date and serviced. If, like Southern California, comfortable outdoor living is the norm, stage your yard, patio or pool so buyers are reminded how much time they can relax outdoors.

Stage to solve problems

Natural disasters happen in most locales. Blizzards, tornados, floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes -- thoughts of these things can be the elephant in the room when people are relocating. Be proactive when you stage and market your home.

Buyers in areas of the Southeastern U.S. know that hurricanes are possible. Therefore, many homes are outfitted with durable materials designed to withstand the pounding rains and powerful winds. Metal roofs are particularly popular. Because they last a long time and don't end up in the landfill every 20 years, they have the added bonus of being eco-friendly.

In areas where wildfires are a problem, landscaping setbacks are the norm. In areas of heavy rains, correct drainage is important and something buyers should be able to ascertain

If the home you are selling has modern storm-proofing features such as a metal roof or hurricane-safe windows and doors, extra insulation, a backup generator, gutter guards, a programmable thermostat, thermal window treatments, a basement sump pump, or an attic fan, buyers will feel more confident.

Charleston is known for its colorful facades and irresistible curb appeal.
What does the front of your home say to passersby and potential home buyers?
Photo: Architectural Digest  

Pitch to your demographics

Charleston is surprisingly an affordable place to own property. Residents have to pay only about 0.5% of their home's value in property taxes each year, which ranks as seventh-lowest in the entire country. Because of this fact, the city attracts many fun-loving but budgeting young people, as well as thrifty retirees.

Stage the home you're selling with your buyers in mind, but not so specifically that you will turn off other buyer groups. A vintage bar cart as an elegant addition to a living room or dining room is perfect for Charleston's buyers, maybe not so much for a home in a city that's populated predominately by Mormons, who abstain from alcohol.

Walk through time

Charleston's history is rich in drama and important events. With over 400 years of fascinating history, history buffs will get lost in all there is to discover and learn in the city. From Civil War battle sites to plantations that span hundreds of acres, living in Charleston truly does allow you to experience history like nowhere else. You can take a carriage ride, visit the haunted Old Jail, and then explore the city's modern nightlife -- all in one day!

No need to shy away from the less-than-honorable
traditions your town may have " bragging rights" to.
Make local color part of the story of your home. 
When you stage your own home, honor the past without ignoring the less reputable eras. All events go towards shaping a locale's character in the home's decor, whether it's a revitalized town that bounced back from a depressed economy, the birthplace of a notorious thug, or an area that survived war and turmoil.

Select artwork, photographs, and other decorative elements that evoke the city's most beloved or unusual attractions. Sometimes these decor items can take the form of whimsy and other times, of pure education.

You can also honor the history of your region by landscaping with indigenous plants and materials. Water-hungry plantings don't belong on the grounds of a desert home, for example. 

Selling a home isn't easy, but every location has its own kind of charm. Every property has an upside. Some homes and some cities just do more of the selling for you. Focus on your location's advantages and make sure potential buyers get the message so they will fall in love with your property.

Get the look, get the book

Experienced home stagers know how to reflect the character of a city or region in their work, and that's true whether you are staging a historic home in a Southern city or preparing a modern urban loft in Brooklyn. You can be like that experienced home stager! Find out much more about how to get your home sold profitably and faster when you have my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, as well as my eBooks on furniture arranging, and no-sew window treatments for staging.

Top Photo: Architectural Digest

Popular Posts