My husband and I have made a big decision—
we’re selling our condo! I’m lucky that my father is a Realtor, so that process is easy. But the condo market is tough, especially given our location. Being marketers, and growing up with a real estate agent father, I know that you only get one shot at a good first impression. I remember looking for condos three years ago, and it astounded me how awful some of the photos were. After choosing some places that looked decent, we were shocked yet again to find a stark contrast between the pristine photos and unkempt property we visited. I can look past paint colors, but not mold in the shower. Nasty.
A home needs to be prepared to be placed on the market. Since we’re going through the process ourselves, I thought I’d share a few techniques I’ve learned along the way for how to make a home sellable. Remember, when you list your home, it becomes a product that you have to market. Put emotions aside, and get ready to sell.
1. Get Rid of Clutter
In a condo, clutter can build pretty quickly due to the lack of space. Closets become pantries, and dens becomes storage lockers. Buy three large packing boxes: one for donation, one for garbage, and one for storage. Go through everything in your home, from the cluttered bookshelf to your closets. Do you really need 100 seashells surrounding your bathtub or a kitchen table covered in candy dishes and candles? Purge your home of things you don’t need. If it’s something like a photo frame or extra clothing, add it to the donation box. Have a stack of old mail and receipts on your desk? Throw it in the garbage box. Is your small nightstand dotted with jewelry boxes, mugs, and an alarm clock? Keep one item, and put the rest in the storage box for when you move into your new home. Clean surfaces are appealing and accentuate the amount of space you have. Your home should look like a hotel—
pristine, clean, with only a few carefully chosen decorative pieces.
When people come to see your home, they need to be able to envision themselves living there. It’s hard to do that with a life-sized canvas of your wedding day plastered on the wall. Remember the hotel rule—
hotel rooms don’t have personal photos in the room, and therefore your home shouldn’t, either, when you want to sell it. You can unpack those precious photos in your new home, but right now, your current home is a product that needs to sell. Put photos away, including the ones on your fridge. Clean surfaces are key.
3. Take Good Listing Photos
You don’t need to invest in a professional photographer or even in a fancy camera. Simple things can take your photos from mediocre to sell-worthy. Make sure you adjust the blinds to avoid back light, and make your bed before you snap a pic. Try different angles and different elevations to see what makes the room look large and grand. Turn the lights on. Ensure chrome fixtures are polished. And more importantly, only take photos after you’ve decluttered and depersonalized. You don’t need to show your toast bread and bananas on the counter in your kitchen photo. You also don’t need to show your shower puff and countless bottles of body wash in a glass shower—
trust me, it doesn’t photograph well. When you’re happy with your final photos, run them through a photo editing tool. Picmonkey.com is a great free tool to use, and even has an “Auto Adjust” feature. Editing your photos to adjust the color and contrast will make your photos look fabulous, which will hopefully hook a few people in the MLS listing. Good photos are your key to securing a showing.
4. Neutral Colors
Have a knack for purple walls? Awesome—
you can paint your new house purple. Right now, though, you need to make your place neutral to appeal to as many people as possible. Light colors such as gray or beige work great and make spaces look large and bright. This is especially important if you have a small condo. Dark colors will do the complete opposite. I remember seeing a DARK purple condo with black couches—
it looked like a cave. If you want to sell your place, a few cans of paint will make all the difference.
Taken the perfect photos? Home clean and pristine? Great—
now let’s make it inviting. Add a fresh bouquet of flowers to your kitchen table, and turn your bathroom into a spa with folded towels and scented candles ahead of an open house. Add place settings to your dining room table. Landscape your front lawn if you have a house. Put a few linen-scented air fresheners in the closets and laundry room. You want to appeal to all senses, including smell. If you really want to go the extra mile, bake cookies the morning of the open house and leave them out for guests. Nothing like the smell of cookies in the kitchen and the comfort they’ll bring visitors as they peruse your home. It’s all in the details.
We’ll officially list our place in a couple of weeks, once we get back from vacation. Vegas, here we come! I’ll be sippin’ margaritas while dreaming about my dream home. In reality, I have a lot of packing to do when I get back. Ignorance is bliss though, ain’t it?
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