Please welcome guest contributor to TeamFisher.com, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part four in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.
Cleaning and de-cluttering your home has probably left you a bit breathless, but this week I’m going to ask you to go a few steps further. As your home begins to take shape, and you’re starting to see surfaces you haven’t seen in years, I want to focus your attention on some of the small stuff.
I always tell my clients that you have five seconds to make an impression. Saskatoon home buyers usually know if they’re going to love your house or hate it within the first five seconds of viewing your home, so it would make sense that you spend a fair amount of time on curb appeal, and make sure that your exterior sets the stage for the Saskatoon real estate gem that you have hidden within.
So let’s talk curb appeal. If it’s winter, your walkways should be perfectly shoveled, salted, and absolutely clear of ice and debris, not just to make it easy for home buyers to access your front door, but also for the practicality of not wanting to have a lawsuit on your hands should someone slip and fall. If parking is such that people need to walk over a hump of snow in order to get to your driveway, shovel a pathway through the hump so they can walk without immersing their feet in a pile of snow.
If it’s summer your lawn should be cut, trim, whipper snippered, and utterly manicured to perfection. Maybe this is a personal preference, but I’ve always liked lawns that are mowed on a 45° angle. It shows that the homeowner takes pride in his or her home. Your garden should be completely weeded, and planted—if you’re the type that gardens—if you’re not, than your soil should be wet, turned, deep black, and fresh-looking. Try to avoid the soil that is flat and cracking and baking in the sun.
Sorry, but garden gnomes, colourful windmills, personal name plates (Jones’ Residence), and any other type of garden décor are going to have to go. Keep it simple, simple, simple. Use neutral colours in everything you have laid out. If you feel like your garden is naked without all the decoration, you can go out to Superstore or Walmart and pick up those solar lights that you can use to mark out the walkway to your doorstep, or outline the shape of your garden. Those make evening showings warm and inviting!
Now here’s the hard part: your yard needs to look like this for every single showing. You can’t miss one, not even one. I’m not trying to make your life difficult; I do have a very good reason for being so demanding. You see, Saskatoon real estate agents will be opening your door to buyers who have been scouring the Saskatoon MLS® for weeks or more; you never know which one is going to be the one that loves your home and wants to write an offer. To make it easier on my clients, I tell them that every showing that comes through your house is your potential buyer, and every showing after that is the buyers that could take your home into multiple offers and bid your asking price up, rather than down. The good news is that once you’ve whipped it into shape, it isn’t as hard to maintain!
Now let’s get down to the finer details of the look of the front door. Potential buyers will be standing on your stoop for a moment (in most cases) while they wait for their Realtor® to locate the lockbox and open the door. They will be taking stock of what they see around them, and I have often found that, that moment of looking at a seller’s exterior is usually a pretty clear indicator of what is to come on the inside. So for that reason, make sure your mail box is clean and polished. If it is rusted, tarnished or dirty in any way at all, spray paint it back to a perfect colour, or replace it with a brand new one. Your outdoor light fixture should also be cleaned to a high-shine. Again, if it’s not sparkling, spray paint it or replace it totally. I like to see a wreath on doors. No matter what the season, a wreath creates a great focal point, and gives off a come-hither-type of feel. Make sure that it is seasonally appropriate and extremely neutral and understated. Colours should be whites, golds, beiges, deep greens, blacks, or browns.
Your door handle should be in optimal working order; there’s nothing worse than having the buyer’s agent struggling to get the door open. The knob should be polished and firmly screwed into the door, not wiggly or rattling. Most people don’t notice how dirty their front door gets with scuffs and marks. Attack it with a Mr. Clean magic eraser and if you can’t get it totally clean, then paint the whole thing top to bottom. Don’t do touch-ups here. Broad day-light will often expose a fix like that.
The siding right around your front door has a tendency to collect dust, debris and spider webs. If you go and look at it right now, you’ll likely notice that there is a fair amount of dirt hiding in the corners. Power-wash the exterior of your home from the front driveway right up to the front stoop so that everything that the average buyer sees will be totally clean.
Yes, I’ve given you more to add to your to-do list, but again, believe me, it all pays off when the offer comes in! Good luck, and I’ll see you back here next week as we go further into creating a Saskatoon real estate listing that sells!
Until Next Time…
Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Realtor specializing in Calgary condos, South East Calgary Real Estate, home staging and Calgary Real Estate Investment, and Auburn Bay Realty. But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate Blogs. For more information on Calgary Home Buyers, or searching mlslistings.ca, visit her website here.