"Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go."- Marie Kondo, the KonMari Method
*UPDATE 2/17/17: Less than two weeks of publishing our listing on Zillow, we now have nine offers and have accepted an incredible offer that's above our listing price! Our potential buyers had to duke it out in a bidding war!*
We listed our home for sale on Monday, February 5th, 2017. On Tuesday, one buyer came for a private showing. On Wednesday, seven buyers flowed through. Today, on Friday, four of the eight buyers (50%) from the two days' of showings made us offers! This weekend, after Winter Storm Niko, dozens of buyers have scheduled private showings. Our listing on Zillow consistently attracts more views and shopper saves than all the other listings within the same zip code. We're on track to accept a good offer just one week after listing! 😲
Perhaps it's all about location (we do live in a bustling part of NYC), and perhaps it's the right timing. (Winter 2017, right around Winter Storm Niko!) It's definitely not pure luck though. It's all about how we presented and staged our home, and presented ourselves as sellers. Professionally. Almost magically.
Let me share our secrets to success with you. Using the KonMari Method, you can easily stage a home, designed to sell quickly! Start by decluttering, tidying, and cleaning your home so that it sparkles and delights all the potential buyers who flow through your door. First impressions matter and stick! Like meeting a date, the buyer forms an impression within eight seconds of stepping foot into your home. So even if the price, location, and space are all right, the buyer still needs to fall in love 💖😍 with your home before making you a good offer.
1. Declutter, declutter, declutter!
Before entertaining buyers through showings, be sure to clear countertops and surfaces of clutter and items of daily living. In our kitchen, we removed dish rags, towels, and dishwashing gloves, leaving only "props" such as a fancy glass water carafe or bottle and a vase of fresh flowers. We cleared all the dishes from the sink and even made sure to empty the garbage can before buyers came.
If you struggle with throwing out your shi- I mean things, you can always store them away during the showings. Stuff them under the bed, in the dark corners of your closets, or high up where buyers can't reach or see them. I still think it's best to throw things out. Do you need it in your new home? Will it look nice in your new home? Is replacing it cheaper than moving it? These are good questions to ask if you're on the fence about keeping or throwing something out.
See how our fridge has no magnets? A well-staged home is a decluttered and neat home. We had a chinchilla in one of our closets. Buyers will want to look inside your closet space, so we moved our chinchilla to my parents' basement, temporarily.
2. Clean and tidy up
We wiped down every surface, getting rid of oil stains, dirt, and dust. We made sure all the surfaces that could shine shone and glimmered. What really helped with cleaning and tidying our home were e-cloths, cloth with special fibers that removed bacteria and cleaned hard surfaces with just water! We love e-cloths because their home cleaning set comes with a Glass and a Polishing Cloth, a Kitchen Cloth with scrubbing pocket, a Bathroom Cloth, a Window Cloth, a Dusting Cloth, a Stainless Steel Cloth, and a Range and Stovetop Cloth-basically a cloth for every surface in your home! We made sure to double-clean, so we also used our favorite cleaning spray, Method's natural and all-purpose cleaner spray with the e-cloths to clean. Just see below and look at how clean our five-year old bathroom is! It sparkles! It delights! It screams out, use the john and stay a while!
3. Brighten your rooms
HGTV recommends for you to "increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don't depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall)." Phil and Mama also recommends that you allow natural light to come through the windows through drawing the blinds, keeping your rooms nice and bright. No one wants to buy a dark dungeon!
When our showings are at nighttime, we bring out the LED candles. They're perfect for staging a home and making it look romantic and dreamy.
4. Offer Snacks and Bottled Water
Anyone who walks into our home is our guest, and we offer everyone a bottle of water and snacks. We leave out wrapped chocolates and candy, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate mini-cupckaes. Snacks allow the guests and potential buyers to linger longer. The buyers will remember how gracious and generous the sellers were, and this good impression could make the difference between making an offer or passing. After all, who would you want to close a deal with, someone nasty or someone pleasant? The same goes for buyers. No way in heck are we going to take an offer from a rude buyer!
5. Decorate with Fresh Props
During our multiple showings, we used fresh flowers as staging props. We chose gerbera daisies (they last long) and roses. Between the showings, we sprayed the flowers, kept them in their vases, and popped them into the fridge so that they last longer. Fresh flowers are beautiful, inviting, and they really elevate the loveliness of your home.
6. Depersonalize your home
Staging is an art of illusion. You want buyers to come into your home imagining how they would use and live in your space. So you must depersonalize and remove family portraits and photos, framed diplomas and certificates, and other personalized items. It's sad to see your home lose your personal touches, but soon, this will no longer be your home. It must be charming and customizable in the eyes of the buyer, so personalize quickly.
7. Give a thank-you note
When the buyer was decent (we had a few who were very rude and dismissive), we handed out hand-written thank-you cards complete with a candy on top of it. The thank-you note thanked the buying for stopping by, and reminded them of our home (we added the street address). This leaves a final sticking impression. Three brokers remarked that they've never worked with nicer and more gracious sellers! That speaks volumes. The brokers would be quicker to recommend our home to their buyers, remembering how pleasant we were to their buyers.
Our thank-you note message:
Thank you for stopping by <address>. We hope you liked what you saw! Good luck!
Here are some thank-you cards that you can print out. We created them using canva.com.
8. Take professional pictures for your listing
The pictures you post up on Zillow or any other listing service should be professional, and your home should also be perfectly staged for the pictures. That means the home should be decluttered, clean, and shining in the pictures to attract potential buyers. Make sure you have plenty of natural lighting for the pictures, or keep the rooms bright when you are taking pictures during the evening or nighttime.
9. Don't forget the outside
Curb appeal is also very important. For our condo unit, we made sure to clean the stairway and common spaces.
10. Choose the right agent to represent you
We chose an agent who knows the area well and has experience. I must give a shout-out to him, Lawrence Wong from Reichert. He's great!
11. And finally, a tip to buyers
When it's the seller's market, the seller will be choosy. So be on your best behavior when you're at a showing. If you're rude or dismissive to the seller, the seller will remember. As a seller, I make notes on all the buyers flowing through. I remember those who were friendly, and those who didn't even bother to say hi to the home owners. With so many offers on the table, and very likely more coming through, we as sellers will be very picky.
I hope these tips are useful for you. Good luck staging and selling your homes!
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