There’s a reason that it’s called a “show-home”. It’s all for show.
It’s definitely not for living.
Unless “living” is walking around with bottles of glass cleaner and rags all day and then at night, secretly throwing toys into cardboard boxes whilst your children sleep. “They’ll never miss these! Bye-bye, cluttery pieces of plastic!”
Our house is on the market. Did you guess that yet? It’s not exactly the easiest thing to do with children. Apparently, buyers don’t like to see that children live in houses. Or if they do, they’re Stepford children who have exactly two toys, freshly pressed uniforms in the closet, and hospital corners on the bedsheets.
Ahhh…. the house of fun and laughter.
But in order for prospective buyers to actually imagine themselves in the house, the seller’s house has to achieve all of the “De-“s.
The first rule of the “Show Home”: De-clutter
This one was hard for me. I love my clutter. I have a big kitchen island that was chock full of stuff – papers, my iPod dock, a place for pens, some framed pictures – it was basically the landing pad for all-things-crap in my house.
It had to be cleared.
I walked around my island (and then my house) with a box and started chucking superfluous stuff in there. I reminded myself, “I’m moving anyways.”
Woot! Two points for getting a head start on moving. Super planner girl kicking moving-arse!
And as a buyer, I can say that clutter is distracting. Buyers will spend too much time looking at your collection of ceramic cats on the windowsill or your sloppy piles of bills on the desk. They forget to look at the bones of the house.
De-cluttering is hard for a gal like me. I pick up stuff off of the side of the road in hopes that I can magically transform it into something beautiful. I bring it home, like a cat with a mouse in its jaws.
This is why in-laws with a basement are very useful at a time like this. The hoard is visiting Grandma and Grandpa right now. Yay!
When you are decluttering, though, be sure to not get so flustered that you lose all of your smarts.
Maybe don’t put stuff in your oven. It can be a harsh lesson.
Second rule of the “Show-Home”: De-personalize.
Again, difficult for me. I like my stuff, and I like it to sometimes feature pictures of my adorable non-Stepford family.
Buyers don’t like this. They don’t feel like they can live in that house. They need to imagine their own child’s graduation photo on the wall. They have a hard time walking past the sign that says, “The Smiths” or “Beware of Guard Cat” on the front walk.
Personal stuff claims the home. It screams, “You don’t live here! Go live somewhere else! Not in this place where Tommy and Janice live. With their ceramic cat collection!”
Kelly from A Swell Place to Dwell had an awesome tutorial on replacing your photos with prints.
And guess what!?!? She’s got links to free printables (so you don’t have to hunt around for them whilst you’re already de-cluttering and muttering at a break-neck pace). Find all of the genius here!
Once your house has ample space, clean countertops, and picture frames that don’t have Cousin Rambo staring back at you, you’re ready to decorate.
Third Rule of the “Show-Home”: Decorate
This doesn’t mean that you run into Target and start throwing things into the cart willy-nilly in hopes that you can suddenly achieve style in your space.
Really, this means that you want to make your house as appealing as possible, without offending anyone’s tastes.
It sounds about as beige as butter, but it doesn’t have to be. Basically, think “hotel”. What would I like to see in a hotel if I entered the room?
Probably not this. “Hi Toilet!”
Or this. Why pictures of toilets?
I don’t know.
And put your bedtime booze away. At least while the agent is taking the photos.
I”ll give you some more decorating hints: not bright purple walls. Not carpets that have giant brown stains on them. Not towels that are crumpled and a bit damp. Not cracked mirrors nor rumpled unmade beds.
If it’s THAT terrible, then just get it out of the house. I’d rather see a bare floor than a stained and ripped area rug.
I purchased what I like to call “show towels” and “show bathmats”. They’re fresh and pretty towels and mats (from the big box decor store) that I only use during showings. They’re bright white and add a finished look to the bathroom. We don’t use these towels and mats at all. My kids even call them “the show towels” as they very gingerly take them down and put them in the spare room after each showing.
Train ’em young, I say.
Do you think that these towels have ever seen a sticky hand or a blob of toothpaste? No. They haven’t. This is House Beautiful for the love of Pete!
And the same word – decorate – goes for outside. It’s fall now, so I have a few pots of mums out by the front door. We cleaned up the garden beds and blew all the leaves off of the driveway. Neat and tidy is what people want to see. The Welcome mat should be inviting, not screaming, “Leave while you can!”.
Basically, people want to think that you take care of your place. They’ll feel more comfortable in the house, and thus, will stay longer and perhaps fall in love with the space!
Now here’s the obligatory disclaimer: am I a real estate expert? No. I’m not. But I’ve logged enough hours of HGTV and have spent YEARS surfing MLS. I like to think that I know what works and what is an epic real-estate failure.
Will we sell our house?
I don’t know. It’s one of those weird things where you have to just try your best and see who walks through your front door.
I’m trying to be very Zen about it. (Which means you will probably notice an anxious bit of crazy in my upcoming posts. Sit back and enjoy, friends!)
Have I missed any great “Show-home” tips? What are some other things that we can do to make our house the prettiest and the most appealing to the masses?
And stay tuned for the crazy “BUY MY HOUSE” lady! In fact, subscribe!
Don’t miss a minute of it!
Also, the awesome (but not awesome) real estate photos were taken from a super fun site called “Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos”.
I laughed and laughed – visit it, if you’ve got time.