Selling your home? Dress it up to impress potential buyers

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A tidy, color-coordinated closet as exemplified by designer Kelly Wearstler's clothing vault, in Los Angeles. can make a home stand out from the other houses for sale,

Think about what spring brings to the Walla Walla Valley to enhance liveability. For starters, the sun’s warmth is turned up and the wear of winter is replaced with bright, vibrant flowers.

That’s how your house should look — fresh and new — if you want to sell it. With more than 475 houses on the market locally and more coming as the spring arrives, competition can be fierce.

“It’s a price war and a beauty contest!” says Candi Jennings, my local stager.

I couldn’t agree more. Candi has been working with me for the past six years to stage the homes that I have listed on the market. She uses flowers, furniture, color, design and other items to make every room look special.

Doing so not only makes a home more attractive, but also helps build an immediate emotional attachement among potential buyers who tour it.

Author and real estate expert Holly Ziegler writes about the values of a well-staged home in her book “Sell Your Home Faster with Feng Shui.”

Feng shui, she writes, is the eco-science of intentional design and serenity that originated in China about four thousand years ago. It is a method of bringing harmony, balance, order, and simple beauty, and when applied to a home it “appeals to buyers.”

“We are powerfully affected by our surroundings; our innermost selves react in a direct way to the spaces we occupy,” she states. “If our environment is cluttered, unclean, messy, disorganized, or crowded we find it difficult to relax and find serenity within this space.

“On the other hand, if our setting is uncluttered, clean, organized, and allowed to be more spacious, our mind and spirit feel calmer, or grounded, and we are more readily able to savor the beauty and blessings in our lives.”

Here are some ways to make your home look its best in today’s market:

Beautify the entrance

The beauty contest starts with curb appeal. If you stand at your curb with an objective eye, ask yourself how your house looks.

Does it have fresh paint, a manicured lawn, bright flowers, and is it clutter free with no toys or junk around? Add a couple of large planters with seasonal plants by the entrance or put window boxes on the ground floor with colorful flowers.

Make sure the front door is clean and in good shape and that the welcome mat looks inviting.

Brighten up the inside

Adding a fresh coat paint can liven up rooms. Since color is a personal thing, avoid using deep or rich colors. Simple, neutral colors that have a more universal appeal are always safe. For more color, add accents with pillows, throws, art, tablecloths, furniture, rugs and small colorful items. Eliminate offensive odors, which can be big turn-offs.

Make every room sparkle

Clean all windows, mop the floors and vacuum the carpets. Be sure the countertops, appliances and cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are clean. Fix any leaking fixtures and add calking and grout where needed. Remove all personal items, especially family pictures.

Make closets look large

Are bedrooms attractive and clutter free? Removing half of the clothes in your closets will make them look larger. Line up the clothes on hangers by color so they look organized. Remove unused, out-of-season clothes. Buyers love large closets, especially walk-ins that look huge.

Rearrange the flow

Removing about half of the furniture and rearranging the rest will make any room feel more open, inviting and larger. Move sofas and chairs away from the walls. Arrange furniture so the traffic can flow easily in the room. Remove large items; add colorful throw pillows. A comfortable, uncluttered space is always more inviting. What to do with extra furniture? Sell it, give it away or rent a storage unit. Make sure every room is clean and clutter free with minimal furniture.

Simple kitchen updates and more

If you don’t have the money to do a kitchen renovation (countertops, backsplash, flooring, appliances), at least replace the knobs or handles on the kitchen cabinets, and paint the cabinets for an updated look. Also, replace the switch plates, doorknobs and hinges around the house for a newer look.

Light up your home

Good lighting improves any room. Replace outdated fixtures with accent lighting that gives off a nice warm glow. With inexpensive dimmer switches, you can set the mood in every room. Be sure to open the curtains so you showcase the natural light.

Organized garages are great for storage

Clean out the garage and install organizers for garden tools and other items. Scrub the floor so it’s devoid of oil and dirt. Repaint cabinets if they need it. Leave everything clean and tidy. A workbench in the garage for those odd jobs is a bonus.

Finally, make sure everything stays bright, clean and clutter free. Although it’s hard to maintain a clean and tidy house, try to keep it that way for unexpected showings when Realtors are driving by and just happen to want to show your lovely home.

Now, about the price war:

Price the house correctly, in comparison with similar sold homes, so it gets maximum buyer views in the shortest amount of time. Overprice it and you’re looking at no offers or the need to lower the price to get offers. Of course, the longer the house lingers on the market, the lower the price. Not surprisingly, the right price has nothing to do with how much money you need for your next home or how much money you owe on your mortgage.

According to the National Association of Realtors, over 90 percent of buyers search online initially for homes. On average, buyers searched for three months and looked at 10 homes. First-time homebuyers plan to stay in the home for 10 years; average buyers 15 years.

And what do they all want? They want fresh, clean, move-in ready homes priced to sell.

Karen Yager is a Realtor with Adamas Realty in Walla Walla and a professionally accredited home stager. She can be reached at karen@karenyager.com or by calling 509-520-8623.

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