Six Tips for Selling your Home this Autumn

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Just because days get cooler does not mean the home selling market cools.

Summer may be over, but please don't assume as a home seller that real estate sales take a nosedive. In fact, fall is one of the best times of the year to sell your house.

Buyers tend to be more serious than people who were house hunting during the summer.

The weather is friendlier than in summer or winter, making home tours more comfortable.

And, crisp, dry autumnal air and colorful landscaping result in better photographs.

With cooler weather on the horizon,  potential homebuyers are looking for a place to hunker down for the winter. You can cash in on autumn's appeal with the right staging!

Here are six tips you can use to make your home look like the perfect place for homebuyers to snuggle up this fall. 

1. Use autumn colors

According to Michael Plant, Sherwin-Williams Director of Color Marketing, color trends for 2019 are both jewel tones, and sun-washed oranges and tans. Coincidentally, these are also autumn accent colors.

Of course, you're not going to paint your walls deep burgundy, chocolate brown, or royal blue for staging purposes, but you can count of these colors when choosing decorating accessories like your pillows, artwork, throws, wreaths, and vases.

So, replace your spring-like, pastel-colored candles on silver candlesticks with chunky, purple pillars on wooden pedestals. Recover your grey and white pillows with a remnant of deep teal velvet. You might even splurge on a new paisley duvet cover like the one below from Pottery Barn.

Autumn colors are soothing and homey. Warm wood tones and rich reds and olives are balanced here by plenty of whites. When staging, layer on those interesting textures. 

2. Add seasonal gourds

Produce of the harvest season, like gourds, pumpkins, and winter squashes are iconic of autumn. Any of these will add a touch of fall-feeling to your home even if you don't change anything else.

Arranged in a glass bowl or rustic basket, or on a generously-sized tray, they'll create a seasonal centerpiece for your entry table, coffee table, or kitchen island. If these hard-shelled vegetables don't jive with your home's color palette, change their colors with craft paint or spray paint.

No one says your pumpkins and gourds have to be real. Stores are jammed with adorable replicas to suit any taste or staging need. And I've easily made pumpkins from fabric scraps! Other seasonal props are feathers, baskets, dried autumn leaves, branches of dried berries, apples, pine cones, corn husks, terra cotta pots, logs, dried flowers, and shafts of wheat.

Keep your color palette geared to warm, seasonal tones and you can't go wrong. Feathers and faux flowers are from Dollar Tree,  $1 pumpkins are from Home Goods,
nd the agate-inspired tray is from Ollie's Bargain Outlet at $7.  

3. Check your water heater 

Anyone shopping for a new home loves the idea that he doesn't have to tackle any home maintenance projects right from the get-go. Before listing is a good time to give your water heater some TLC. Having a plumber drain your water heater and remove sediment is something a Realtor can let a prospective buyer know about. It indicates that you have maintained your home well. Experts recommend doing this once a year and pre-listing is a good time to do it.

A plumber's visit can also include a check of things like dripping faucets, leaking joints, or outdated pipes. Buyers will hire a home inspector, so you might as well fix these minor issues now. An inspector wants to find problems because it assures the buyers he's earning the money they pay him.

If you have a tankless water heater, a water conditioning system, or an irrigation system, make sure your MLS listing includes these amenities. If you have a septic system, buyers will want to know about its location and if it's had problems. The same goes for a private well that is used for drinking water or irrigation.

4. Inspect your roof

Another area that a home inspector will look at carefully is your roof. Savvy home buyers will walk around the outside of a home and look up at the condition of a roof. To avoid surprises, have your roof inspected yearly and earn some more bragging rights for taking good care of your home.

In most areas of the U.S, when your home is on the market in the fall it's likely to be a landing place for falling leaves, pine needles, and twigs. Don't let this junk litter your roof and drift into gutters and downspouts. A clean roof boosts your curb appeal.

Silk hydrangeas on your front door can handle the elements and stay looking fantastic through the year-end holidays. I love this chocolate door! Photo: House Beautiful

5. Revisit your door color

A front door is the smile on your curb appeal. You'll make a memorable impression if your door sports a bold color. I've blogged about how to choose the best color for your front door and also how to paint a front door without taking it off the hinges.

If your door color isn't one of the popular autumn colors, and you don't want to paint it, just clean it and dress it up a bit. Adding an autumn wreath and some seasonal touches near your entrance make your home look loved and shows you're in tune with the times. I have a Pinterest Board for wreaths to give you inspiration and ideas. And also a board for autumn decor ideas that are perfect for home staging.

6. Clean up the yard

A few leaves won't hurt your home's curb appeal, but piles of blown-in debris will ... well... contribute to that haunted house appeal!

Enjoy some outdoor exercise by raking any yard you own and clearing any pathways. Trimming overgrown vegetation will make a big difference. Small projects like these can determine whether people request a tour of your home or else decide to keep looking. First impressions count!

If you have a painted fence, it's a good idea to check it for damage. If it has signs of flaking or thinning paint or stain, a fresh application will do wonders for even an older fence. When the fence is constructed of pressure-treated lumber, it might need a pressure washing to make it look new again.

A fence like this is usually a selling feature that charms buyers. A poorly-
maintained one looks like work to them. Photo: The Fence Authority

Get the look, get the book

October in the U.S. seems to be the month for spooky and scary sights. But it's also the season for slowing down and getting comfortable, that sweet time between busy summer schedules and hectic winter holidays. Make it easy for homebuyers to visualize themselves in your clean and cozy world! My three $4.99 eBooks on home staging show you how. They help you prepare your property for a quick and profitable sale. Trust me. I've staged and sold homes in all seasons!

Top photo: Country Living         

What Your Closets Reveal About You

Tuesday, October 08, 2019
A closet says a lot about its owner. When your house is for sale, closets are part of the deal in surprising ways.

Closets are secret places, non-public areas that exist behind closed doors.

But buyers will open those doors. They will step inside a walk-in closet. They will peer into cabinets. They will stare at a pantry.

Buyers are picturing the amount of space they would have if they bought your home. But they are also judging the owner of the home, you.

If they form a positive impression of you, they will form a more positive impression of your home. And chances are greater they will be easy to work with as prospective buyers because, hey, you're a likable guy.

These buyers are less likely to low ball you on pricing, and less likely to put bumps in the road to a closing like demanding special considerations.

Staging your closets could make the difference between a buyer envisioning himself moving in or else questioning if your home is right for him. The National Association of Realtors has found that 83% of buyers' agents agree that staging a home makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize living there

If you don't give your closets -- and other storage areas -- some staging love, you could be alienating buyers. Here are three of the best messages your closets can give someone touring your home.

There's something soothing and reassuring about a closet that has items
arranged by colors. The wooden hangers add a classy touch. Photo: The Spruce

"I value myself and my possessions." 

If your closets are perfect examples of orderliness and style, chances are the rest of your home shows the same characteristics. You can emphasize those qualities by staging your storage areas to look neat and attractive. 

A thorough closet cleanse begins when you go through your belongings and pare them down. No one admires a hoarder. Get rid of duplicates, expired items, and anything irreparable or useless to you anymore. You want to showcase what looks new and upscale.

The average adult between the ages of 25 to 34 spends $161 each month on clothing. That's a ton of clothes. The time to minimize possessions is as soon as you know you will be selling your home. Not only will decluttering make it easier to clean and organize, but it will make your move easier and more affordable as well.

If you find it difficult to toss belongings, holding a garage sale can take the sting out of what feels wasteful. Use the cash to help with your staging or your move. Donating items to your favorite charity thrift store is another way to part with things gracefully. Tell yourself that set of dishes you no longer use will make a budgeting, new bride happy. 

My one unusual piece of advice I give people purging storage areas in their homes is to be on the lookout for interesting objects they can use for staging. That straw hat or those old leather riding boots that you never wear could become a statement piece of your closet staging.  

"I curate my life. I'm in control." 

We all admire organized people. Be that person. Once you've narrowed down your closet contents and zeroed in on items that you want to keep, there will still be stuff that is either out-of-season or takes up too much space.

This photo from The Container Store doesn't look like
the pantries most of us have and use, but it is a good
example of how attractive a staged closet can look.  
My opinion is that it's worth the money to rent an off-site space for the possessions you don't need right now.

Since the U.S. storage unit industry generates $22 billion in revenue every year, I think you'll find a facility near you. I've blogged about the best ways to choose and use a storage unit. 

Storing excess in the attic or basement is always an option, but it does give the message to buyers that you don't have adequate, accessible storage. Someone touring your home begins thinking, "If they don't have room for their stuff, then neither will I."

Stacked boxes of stored belongings make it look like you're in a hurry to move. Boxes stored in a basement or attic can be a visual distraction, and might even be a safety hazard. Although a finished basement merely needs to meet legal egress requirements for safe escape or entry, buyers won't be enticed by a crowded or unattractive basement.

So, turn that messy closet into something an obsessive-compulsive could love. Cluster the little things you regularly use and store them in opaque containers. Even a small closet can be made to look larger when storage bins and baskets match.

If there is a light fixture in the closet, make sure it has maximum wattage and that both the bulb and the globe are clean. Add battery-powered, stick-up lights and turn them on before a showing if the closet needs additional illumination.

To make a closet look more spacious, use under bed storage space for essentials you don't need daily.  I've written about other clever places to store excess when you stage.

An overcrowded closet says you don't have control of your life. Now's the time to tidy up!

"I have an enviable lifestyle."

Never forget that people shopping for a home want to move up the social ladder. A home purchase represents increased self-worth and security. If your home represents a desirable lifestyle, you'll find a buyer sooner.

Pretty things, plenty of space, lack of clutter, handsome
hangers, simple color scheme -- this closet demonstrates
some of the best ideas for staging a clothing closet.
Photo: Women's Day Magazine
The good life means you have separate closets for separate functions. The ideal home has a coat closet, a linen closet, a cleaning closet, as well as designated closets for sports equipment, party supplies, shoes, off-season clothing, crafts, and ... well, we can dream, can't we?

The closer you can come to this dream scenario, the better your home will show. Try to create a couple of  single-purpose closets. Perhaps you can cluster sports equipment, luggage, and off-season clothing in separate areas of one closet. Maybe you move cleaning supplies and tools into the laundry area, and then stage one closet as a gorgeous linen closet anyone could love.

In other words, put the pretty things upfront and center, and hide the mundane and personal. Don't be afraid to stage a closet in a way that's a tad unrealistic. Go for a unified look with matching baskets or boxes, and a color scheme that ties everything together. Create closet envy.

Don't have a junk closet in your home. Don't have any mystery closets.

Don't arrange clothing or accessories randomly. Organize by type or by color.

Don't store boxes, baskets, and shoes on the floor. The more visible floor there is, the more buyers are impressed. 

Don't use old, dry-cleaner, mismatched hangers for clothes. Cheap closet accessories send a negative message to buyers. Make them jealous of how together you are.

Don't include photographs of your closets in your online listing. They rarely look impressive unless they are huge walk-in affairs with custom shelving and minimal belongings.

If you plan on listing your home for sale in the coming weeks or months, these are the steps you can take to help it sell quickly for the ideal price. When you stage spaces so they look big and accommodating you've just bumped your home ahead of the competition.

Get the  look, get the book

You can gain more insights into what makes DIY home staging successful in my eBooks. Each one is just $4.99, and they are fully loaded with advice on how to make your home ready for market without driving yourself crazy. Click on that eBook link and you are just another click away from starting your smart staging today.

Top Photo: Forbes

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