Real Estate Tips

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Blue Ridge Properties has compiled this list of tips to help with all of your real estate needs from staging and styling to sell your home fast to ensuring you get the best deal as a home buyer:

Center Stage

Try to look at each home as a buyer would, says Barb Schwarz, founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. That means looking at the room from the doorway and using that as a frame to show off the most appealing parts of the room. Many times, prospective buyers won't venture beyond the doorway, she says, so it's important to entice them to enter the room. Take steps to make the room look as clean, neat and spacious as possible. Remove excess furniture and keep floors free of any stacks or clutter.
DECLUTTER - It sounds obvious, says Dianne Rath, CRS, with ERA Eagle Estates Realty in San Diego, but decluttering is the single biggest aspect of staging - and one that is free of charge. Every surface, including countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, should be as clear as possible. Stow toiletries under the sink, and pack up personal photographs so buyers don't get distracted by looking at your pictures, Rath says.
GET RID OF UGLY - If furniture, fixture and appliance colors or window treatments are outdated, threadbare or otherwise unappealing, consider replacing them with low-cost temporary fixes, says Kim Ward, CRS, with Horizon Real Estate in San Diego.
EMPTY THE GARAGE - Large houses often have spacious garages that are filled with boxes, tools and other items that can make them look cluttered and smaller than they really are - especially when homeowners stow stuff from the rest of the house there after they've decluttered and removed furniture, Schwarz says. But buyers might be turned off when they have an impeccable home only to find a garage heaped with boxes, tools and other items. Purge the junk and move the rest to a borrowed or rented storage space, she says.
CLEAN - Schwarz says that clean is not enough. She wants to see a home "Q-tip clean." That means using a Q-tip to clean around sinks, in corners and in other hard-to-reach places. Surface cleaning alone can leave the home looking dingy, she says. Marcia Layton Turner, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell, says that deep-cleaning carpets, upholstery and window treatments is important to both improve the home's appearance and remove lingering odors.
LIGHTEN UP - Each room should be light and bright, Schwarz says. Clean windows and tie curtains back to let the light shine into the room. Lighten dark colors on the walls with inexpensive paint in neutral, light colors like white, off-white or light taupe. Paint can also be used to cover worn or outdated cabinets, Turner says. Add some inexpensive new drawer pulls and cabinet handles from you local hardware or home supply store for a fresh new look for less than $30.
GO SHOPPING IN THE HOME - Rath says she's not afraid to move items from one room to another. One room may be stuffed with furniture, while another room could benefit from a great piece that can be a focal point. This is something Schwarz teaches in her classes. She has seen an extra mirror make one room look bigger while an armoire from a too-crowded bedroom can be used to store the television in a family room, for example.
ACCESSORIZE - All-neutral rooms can be a bit boring, so Schwarz pulls in "movable color" with throw pillows and small accents like candles. Green is a favorite, as it coordinates with most other colors without clashing.
LOOK FOR CURB APPEAL - The outside of the home is just as important as the inside, Schwarz says. Clean up the yard. Trim hedges and weed flowerbeds. Remove dead plants. Repair cracks in cement or asphalt, and power-wash driveways and sidewalks. "I always take buyers across the street to give them a new perspective when they look at their house. Who ever looks at their house from across the street? You can see things that need to be improved that way," Schwarz says.
Most of these activities take some effort on the part of the staging professional and homeowner, but most require very little money and often make a big difference when it comes to the length of time the home sits on the market. "The investment of staging in your home is far less than a price reduction on your home," Schwarz says.

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