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Tom Kelly: Staging, virtual tours vital in today’s market

One of the real estate salespersons I spoke with last week bemoaned the fact that listings were difficult to show given the shelter-in-place orders.

“Buyers have to rely on virtual tours to see homes,” the agent said. “And home staging has become more important.”

Home staging is not reserved for the rich. In fact, cleaning and clearing clutter are the two primary items on Pam Christensen’s “Inexpensive Staging Tips” list for any market.

Christensen, a licensed real estate instructor and a certified staging trainer, said men often forget that they are selling their space, not their stuff. “There are some staging tips that apply no matter where you live,” Christensen said.

If you’re thinking of selling your house or condo this spring, now is the time to prepare your home for sale, because it most likely will take longer to sell this year, given the restrictions brought by the virus. It’s also the traditional selling season, which means, in most communities, recorded residence transfers are at a peak during June and July. Most of those sales are actually made 30 to 60 days earlier, and it takes time to complete the transaction. Think about the academic year. Many deals are made when the kids are in school and moves are made when they get out.

What’s the best way to make a deal happen? A fresh coat of paint, inside and outside, will do wonders to make your residence show its best and make buyers see you have taken steps to make it shine. If your home looks tired, prospective buyers either won’t make a purchase offer or they will highly discount it to allow for the fix-up costs, especially painting. Most buyers want to purchase a residence in model-home condition, so all they have to do is turn the key in the front door and move in.

Here are some of Christensen’s cheap staging tips.

Less is more: You’ve heard it before, but it is really true. When staging a room in a home for sale, a few well-placed pieces of furniture are all that’s needed to show the room at its best.

How to get rid of it: With shelter-at-home, you have more time to make decisions. It’s time to give away the purple cookie jar that you got for your 19th birthday, and anything else that you have been saving just in case you might need it someday.

Divide everything into three stacks. The purple cookie jar and other things that you never use go directly to the garage sale or Goodwill, when it reopens. The second stack is made up of the things you use but rarely, or they are seasonal and you won’t need them while you are on the market. These are packed and stored. What’s left can go back into the closets. Will people really look in the closets? When they can get in, they will.

Counter patrol: Small appliances like toasters can go into a cupboard. If you have an espresso machine and a coffee pot, choose which one you use the most and tuck the other away.

Bathroom essentials: Buy a plastic tote for your toiletries that can come out in the morning and evening and be easily tucked under the sink during the day. Keep no more than one shampoo, one conditioner and one liquid soap in the tub or shower. And what about that shower curtain? Open or closed? If you have just invested in a new tile tub surround, leave the shower curtain open to show it off.

Say welcome home: Buy a new, tasteful welcome mat for the front entry. It’s best if it says “Welcome.” Adding a pot of blooming annuals by the front door if there’s space also creates a friendly atmosphere.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Place one in the entry or in one of the main living rooms. Mirrors help buyers see themselves in the home. They also help to make the room look larger and lighter. Check the reflection. Make sure you aren’t reflecting a view that is less than attractive.

Curb appeal is not dead: OK, nine times out of 10, the first impression of the home now is the internet, but that doesn’t mean that curb appeal is out of vogue. The contrast between the chocolate brown bark and the bright green grass makes a striking first impression.

Prepare for visitors and remember your virtual presentation has become vital.

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