Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor®
Philadelphia Main Line Homes and Real Estate
Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties
Relocation Specialist
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E-mail: jp4re@pahomes.com
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Subject: How To Dress Your Home For Success

A well-dressed home usually sells faster and for a higher price than an average house. What are some things you can do to dress your home for success?

Let's start with the exterior. Every home offered for sale should make the most of its curb appeal, that is, the appearance from the point of view of the potential buyer first pulling up to the front of the home at street level. Fresh paint is a must. If the exterior of the home needs anything from a touch-up to an overall coat of new paint, do it. Stick with neutral colors appropriate to the neighborhood. Is the street address clearly visible? Some neighborhoods paint street addresses on the curb - is the paint cracking? Is the mailbox attractive and in good condition?

Obviously you'll want to pay attention to the landscaping as well. Make sure the lawn is green and that all shrubbery is well-watered and neatly trimmed. Fresh annual flowers near the entrance and under the front exterior windows are always a good idea. Home buyers tend to look out the inside windows at the yard, so make sure they see flowers out those windows, especially from the kitchen, family room and living room. Then make sure you have a well-place bird house or two that can be seen out those windows.

You may want to bring in large potted plants to enhance any hard-to-landscape areas and give new owners an idea of what they can do to enhance the appearance of the home once they move in. A nice potted palm or conifer near the front entrance can help the flow from the exterior to the interior. A park bench or a swing under a shady tree is always a nice touch.

Inside, you must reduce clutter completely. Repair any damaged walls, re-paint or touch-up as needed and remove outdated small appliances. You need to find a way to look at your home with new eyes. A good way to get an idea for the way to dress the interior of a home is to view model homes in a new subdivision. One thing you will notice about professional home dressing is that at all times, less is more. While those favorite teaspoon collections may have meaning to you, they will simply distract a potential buyer from what you are actually trying to sell - your home. You want the rooms to be uncluttered enough for the buyers to imagine their own personality in the home and yet at the same time the home must be filled with the kind of dream-making visuals that cause one to fall in love with a house.

So while you want to avoid clutter, you also want to avoid bare-wall syndrome. Some of us just never seem to get around to hanging paintings or tapestries on those big walls. Look to decorate your home with a continuity of style. Follow the natural lines of your home to draw attention to primary features like a fireplace, a bay window or a vaulted ceiling. Use consistent neutral colors for walls and floors and matching decorator accents for other items. Strategically place mirrors to open up the living space of rooms. Scatter antiques throughout. Use pillows, throw-rugs and decorator towels to enrich the feel of the home.

You should use a few decorator tricks to suggest the livability of the home: breakfast trays in the master bedroom and ice buckets with bottles of champagne by the fireplace are only starting places. Fresh fruit and fresh flowers, for example, make great accents.

Pay special attention to light in your home. Obviously, you'll want to replace any bad or missing light bulbs. Take a close look at each room and bring in any additional lighting needed to make the home bright throughout.

These ideas don't mean you have to go out and buy new items for your "old home" before you sell it. Your real estate professional may be able to suggest a home dresser or interior decorator who will place these items for a reasonable price until your home sells. Most antique stores will buy and sell. If you tell them in advance what you plan to do, you may be able to negotiate the repurchase price in advance. Furniture rental is also an option.

So what do you do with that favorite overstuffed easy chair with the worn fabric? Sell it at a pre-listing garage sale or store it. In fact, you can rent a storage unit and store almost everything in your home that isn't a part of the "show." This may seem like an inconvenience - and it is - but it will help you and the buyer see your house the way you want them to see it - as their house.

"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: jp4re@pahomes.com. Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.

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