Holmquist said it’s important to stage a home so it competes well with others. She said many people don’t realize is that staging is different in the summer than in the winter. She offered 10 things The Holmquist Team tells its customers to do to make their homes jump out as the most desirable in their neighborhoods:
1. Step across the street and look at it as a house, not your home
Forget about all the good times you’ve had in that home and look at it like a buyer would: $$$$$. By adopting this mind set, everything else comes easier
2. Trim the trees and plants, take down hanging plants and wind chimes
You want visitors to see your home and how pretty it is. You also want to make sure there’s amble space for light and air to get through to the windows. Trim low-hanging branches and run-away bushes. Make sure windows and doors are visible from the street
3. Give the outside of your home a good cleaning
Make sure there are no sticks, branches or other debris on the roof. If your home has vinyl or aluminum siding, consider power-washing it, especially if there’s mildew anywhere. If you’re home needs paint, invest in having it painted. Don’t forget to clean your windows.
Get all the outdoor toys organized in one place and move the trash cans, hoses and similar utility equipment somewhere where they’re out of the way and not readily seen from the street.
4. Stage the front porch and the back deck or back yard
Don’t overdo it in either place. If you have a front porch, consider putting a couple of chairs or a bench on it, along with a small table. Add a vase of flowers on the table.
The backyard should definitely be staged as an extension of your home. At the very least, put a few chairs around a table with, perhaps, an umbrella. Put out a table cloth and set the table. If you have a special view or spot in the backyard, consider highlighting it with a bench or a couple of tables.
5. Green up your lawn and gardens
Make sure your lawn and gardens are well watered and brightly colored. If your lawn has large yellow spots, consider having a lawn service fix it. One professional stager suggested a quicker fix: There’s paint out there with colors that are close to that of your lawn. She suggests painting the spots.
Plant flowers that bloom in bright reds and yellows. If you don’t have a garden, consider planting one just to brighten the outside of your home.
You can’t hide your driveway. If it’s paved, consider having it patched and sealed. If it’s gravel, consider adding gravel and having it rolled. If your driveway is beyond repair, consider replacing it. The only alternative is acknowledging that you may need to lower your price so the buyer can fix it.
7. Front doors
Your front door is a major part of your home’s presentation. Consider painting it a bright, but complementary color. Some stagers suggest adding a brass door knocker or kickplate or both. If your front door is old and in bad condition, consider replacing it.
Roofs are like driveways: You can’t help but see them. If your roof needs more than cleaning, you may want to consider replacing it. At the very least, if winter storms have left shingles broken or out of line, have them repaired or replaced. Discuss with your Realtor whether it’s worth replacing the roof or simply adjusting your price.
9. Fix and run your air conditioner
Open windows can give a home nice airy feel in the spring, but once the oppressive summer heat sets in, run your air conditioner. Let buyers enjoy the cool air of your home. It’ll make them stay longer and enjoy your home more.
The rules for inside your home are the same as they are for the rest of the year: declutter, clean and organize. Make sure your home, not its contents, are what buyers are seeing. Of course, in the spring and summer, make sure heavy curtains are down so there’s lots of light coming in. And put out vases of brightly colored flowers and bowls of fragrant, seasonal fruit in the kitchen.
By the way, if you have pretty photos of your home in the winter, put them out for buyers to see so they can imagine having, say, Thanksgiving in your home.
“With the market beginning to come back to life, you don’t want your home to be left behind,” said Ms. Holmquist. “Buyers today are expecting the home they buy to be ready for occupancy. That means you need to make an extra effort to make your home attractive and move-in ready to command top dollar and be competitive.”
Ms. Holmquist suggested that home sellers ask their Realtor to use his or her trained eye to give the home a fresh look and offer advice on making the home so attractive, there’ll be a sold sign on it before long. She added that members of The Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, are available to answer questions or help sell a home.
Ms. Holmquist is the team leader for The Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, and one of the top-producing real estate teams in Morris County, N.J. She has been in real estate since 1997, specializing in residential home sales. After working at other agencies, she founded The Holmquist Team in 2008. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), she holds a bachelor of science from Penn State University. More information is at www.theholmquistteam.net or by calling (908) 867-7109.