Originally published in The Taos News
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is true about first dates, the first day of school or at a new job and, no doubt, the first visit to a for-sale property. In this case, particularly, the old adage proves to be a golden rule.
“If you want to attract potential buyers, you need to make a home look inviting from the moment they set foot in it,” said long time Taosartist and decorator Sharyn Blaustein. She is the owner and founder of First Impression, an interior decorating service.
Blaustein specializes in “staging,” an industry term that refers to redesigning homes that are offered for sale on the real estate market. “We are experts at making spaces appear larger, warmer, and brighter,” she said.
Staging is not the same as remodeling. It does not require buying expensive appliances or doing major, costly renovations. It is about simple details, from keeping counters, mirrors and floors clean to painting cabinets and doors.
Rearranging the furniture and making the property look at its best can influence not only future buyers, but the current owners’ attitude as well. “I had one client—me— who sold her home to the very first people that came to see it,” said Blaustein. “And another who loved what I did to her home so much that she started seeing it differently and decided to take it off the market and keep it. So staging does matter. A lot.”
Though it sounds pretty simple, staging isn’t always easy to do without help. “I have found out that homeowners are often so personally attached to their possessions that it becomes difficult for them to know how to decorate their spaces in a manner that will be most attractive to potential buyers,” said Blaustein. “An expert interior decorator can take a dispassionate look at how to de-clutter a space to make it look bigger and cleaner, or how to boost the curb appeal of a home’s exterior.”
But there is a lot that you can do yourself. Alix Smith, a Realtor currently working with Harvey & Associates, shares some useful tips:
1. De-clutter to the very best of your ability. Clutter makes spaces look smaller and is distracting.
2. Always keep the house clean, tidy and in showing condition. Wash windows and dust furniture and light fixtures.
3. Repair cracks and any damage to plaster, wallpaper or paint.
4. Fix leaky faucets, replace burned out bulbs and polish chrome faucets.
5. Have no double takes. That is, avoid glaring problems that may give a buyer pause as to the condition of the rest of the property.
6. Have a tidy and attractive landscaping. If you have a lawn, keep it well watered and free of loose leaves.
7. Hang new curtains in bathrooms and kitchens.
8. If you have pets, try to minimize odors by keeping the kitty boxes clean and spraying carpet freshener often.
9. Fix creaking steps and squeaky doors.
10. Before holding an open house, pack up as many personal items and knickknacks as you can so buyers are able to image themselves living there.
“Finally, if you can afford it, I highly recommend staging a property, especially empty spaces,” said Smith. “First impressions count, more so in this market when there is so much inventory out there. Whatever makes your house stand out amongst the competition is good.”
Blaustein also has a word of advice to the homeowners who are getting the house ready to sell by themselves, “Less is more. When in doubt, throw it out. Less cluttered spaces appear larger, which makes your home more attractive.”
A wonderful (and fun to read) book on this subject is 301 Simple Things You Can Do to Sell Your Home Now and For More Money Than You Thought: How to Inexpensively Reorganize, Stage, and Prepare Your Home for Sale (Atlantic Publishing Company, 2007) by Teri B. Clark. This illustrated and comprehensive guide includes check-lists, tips and lots of before and after pictures.
For more information about Blaustein’s First Impression service, contact her at 770-5606 or email@example.com
Alix Smith works at Harvey & Associates, 603 Camino de la Placita, Taos, NM87571. Call her at 575-737-5678 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org