It's a question all homeowners face when they decide to sell: How can you make your home as appealing to potential buyers as possible? "It really depends how much your home is worth," says New York-based interior designer Janine Carendi. Not everyone should invest in fancy upgrades and fresh coats of paint, she says. But all homeowners can benefit from reorganizing and beautification. Carendi and fellow designers Mallory Mathison and Brian Patrick Flynn offer some tips on making your home market-ready on a budget.
"Always listen to the professional you're hiring to sell your home," Carendi says. "The agent has so much experience, and he or she can see the potential of the home and how they want to market it."
Some owners hire a staging company to redecorate their home specifically to appeal to buyers. A cool twist on that idea: Flynn suggests hiring a photo stylist (a regional magazine can probably recommend one) to give your place a fresh look.
A good first impression won't guarantee a sale, but a bad one can scuttle it, says Mathison: "If the entry way is blase, that can set a precedent for the rest of the house."
Outside, she says, clean thoroughly and "pay close attention to the front door. You want it freshly painted or stained." Keep the lawn trimmed, if you have one, and add a few potted plants near the door for a look that's "pulled together but not overdone."
Inside, consider touchup painting in the entryway, and add a mirror if the area doesn't get much natural light.
If the front door leads directly into your living room without a foyer or vestibule, Flynn suggests using furniture to "create the sense that you're walking into the area where you decompress."
Add a bench near the door and a console where someone could drop their keys and mail on arriving home.
Clean and fresh
Clean as thoroughly as you can, perhaps hiring a cleaning service for one or two visits. Then take a good look around and consider minor repairs or repainting.
Other details: Bunches of fresh mint or rosemary can freshen air naturally, says Mathison, and a vase of flowers is always welcome.
For a quick facelift: Lightly sand the frames around your windows, then add a coat or two of white paint, Carendi says.
Clear the way
Banishing clutter is crucial: Uncluttered rooms feel larger, and buyers will have an easier time envisioning their own belongings in the space.
Also, says Mathison, remove anything you're sure you don't want to part with. "Take that out of the equation, if you can't part with it," she says, "so there's no arguing over it in negotiations."