When you’re selling a home, your real estate agent will attract potential buyers to see the property in person. This may take the form of an open house, in which several people drop in to take a look, or a private viewing, in which a potential buyer will receive a one-on-one tour from the agent.
Physically visiting a home can give a buyer a much different impression than viewing a listing online. Few people will make up their mind about a place until they’ve visited, so viewings and open houses are the make or break point in a lot of sales. That’s why it’s important to prepare your home in advance of visitors.
Though preferences for décor and furniture arrangements are subjective, there are some steps you can take to help your home make a positive first impression.
Take the buyer’s perspective
It’s hard to mentally detach yourself from your home – it’s filled with your physical possessions and private memories. The people viewing it, on the other hand, are imagining it filled with their possessions, and as a place to make their memories.
While it’s ok to have some personal touches on display the home needs to be set up for the buyer, not for you. Get rid of clutter and hide the pet toys – no one wants to imagine how annoying a home will be to clean once they’re living in it.
Make it spacious
When someone comes to an open house, they’re imagining what it would be like to live there – with their own stuff. The more room they perceive they have to have to work with, the better.
This is especially true in markets where square footage comes at a premium – like Toronto’s condo market.
Light it up
You can’t make it sunny, but you can light up your interior. Make sure you’re inviting as much natural light as possible when prospective buyers stop by, and have electric lights ready for parts of the house that tend to be darker.
Light really helps to open up a space, making rooms feel larger. It’s also a natural way to improve mood, and you most certainly want people feeling good about being in your home.
Get tips from your real estate agent
A real estate agent is an invaluable ally when you’re selling a home. In addition to generating interest, they can also be leaned on for staging tips. Agents have been in countless homes, and know how people react to different set ups. If an agent isn’t confident they can help, they’ll refer you to a specialist.
Or use a staging expert
You can read online (hey look, you’re doing that now) and you can ask your agent for tips, but there’s no better resource than someone who stages homes for a living. In some cases, going the full nine yards may feel like overkill, but if you’re having difficulty selling, or you’re just getting frustrated trying to get your place to look the way you want, it may be time to call in a pro.
Keep it clean
Many experts advocate for a clean, but lived-in vibe, because while tidy is nice, the place should still feel like a home, not some sterile environment. Still, it’s best to err on the side of cleanliness. Make sure the floors are clean and that no one can guess what you ate last night just by looking at your kitchen.
Curb (read: balcony) appeal
Giving your place some curb appeal is a quintessential tip for selling. But what if what you’re selling doesn’t come with a curb? There’s no real equivalent in a condo – the hallway isn’t part of your unit so you can’t really customize it in any significant way. But you may have a balcony to work with.
No, a balcony isn’t going to make a first impression, but it’s an oft overlooked area during staging. Don’t forget about staging the balcony, and definitely don’t use it as a place to hide clutter. Make it a welcoming area that visitors fanaticize about lounging on.
Open up to your guests
Let people see the entire home. This means welcoming them into rooms and closets with open doors. Shuttering up areas of the home may make people feel unwelcomed, and like they’re snooping around. And that’s not what you want. The more open your home is during a visit, the more at home visitors will feel.