Long Beach Real Estate
From Gwen Kelly
Gwen Kelly, Broadmoor Realty, Inc. / DRE #: 00552325
5500 E Atherton Street # 310, Long Beach, CA 90815
(c) 562.857.4936
It's About the Home, Not the Stuff

First impressions are important when selling your Home, so make them count. When getting your home ready for sale, basic repairs, some new paint, clean carpets & clean windows are a good start to make sure your home looks its best. Making a good first impression can mean the difference between receiving serious offers for your home or being subjected to months of lookie-loos dropping by but never buying.

Staging is not decorating; decorating is personalizing. A major part of home staging is de-cluttering. The idea behind staging is to spruce up your house to make it look a little less like home, and a little more like what a prospective buyer wants to see. These suggestions offer a fast way to provide the major "WOW!" needed to sell your home for the highest price in the least amount of time. Think about how good you feel in a room that has been cleared of stacks of paper and piles of books and magazines. You want buyers to have that feeling when they view your home. I cannot say this enough: de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter!

When you buy a home it is emotional. We want Buyers to open the door and go, “I've got to live here. This is mine." You have to grab Buyers when they first open the door.

Curb appeal is paramount to getting buyers through the front door. The front door greets the prospects so make sure that the front door is fresh and clean; if needed consider a coat of fresh paint (choose a color that makes a statement…) or a new front door knob hardware. If necessary, have the front of your house and the trim painted. Fresh landscaping, new sod, or landscaping lights can increase initial appeal. Keep the grass well-watered and mowed. Have your trees trimmed. Cut back overgrowth. Plant some blooming flowers. Store toys, bicycles, roller-skates, gardening equipment and the like out of sight. Sweep the porch and the front walkway. After dark, turn on your front porch light and any other exterior lighting.

Now, be objective. Stand at the front door and try to imagine that you are a prospective buyer. If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won't be able to see your home. Moving is the perfect occasion to clean house. Get rid of anything you don't need or use. Make your furniture unobtrusive. Open your mind to new furniture layouts. Start at the living room and remove excess furnishings, magazines, collectibles, and plants. Make sure that special features and details of the home stand out. Do this in every room and you will maximize feelings of space & comfort. Make sure key features in every room, such as Fireplaces, or French doors, or view of the back yard, are not obscured by personal belongings.

When you’re selling your home, you need to take de-cluttering a step further. Look at your shelves. Are they full of books, collectibles and whatever? When we’re living in our homes we surround ourselves with the things that that bring us comfort and happiness but, when you put your house on the market you don’t want buyers to be distracted by your stuff. Your home is the main attraction so why not start packing away some of your things to show off your home. While you are at it, take everything off the refrigerator, and strip the kids’ rooms of posters.

Clean out all the closets. This will all also give you a head start on packing… Now is the time to box it up. Many people pack up after they sell the house, but why wait? Sellers should start packing as early as possible — ideally, before they put the home on the market. Have your closets only one-half filled to capacity. Have all your shoes on racks and nothing on the floor. If your closets are scraped up or dingy, paint them white. Put cedar blocks for scent and have matching hangars for every item of clothing.

Remember, when getting your home ready for sale your mantra should be, “It’s about the home not the stuff.”

Below are a few ideas for dealing with the items you’ve removed from your house:
• Rent a storage unit;
• Have a garage sale;
• Give it to charity;
• Use part of the garage (leave enough room to park at least 1 car);
• Ask a generous neighbor or relative if you can store your things at their house...

Next, start with what you have and make it as appealing as possible; focus on the little things that will make the biggest impact at showings.

If you have area rugs over hardwood floors, you want to take away the area rug in order to showcase the hardwood floors. Refresh old or worn attributes of the home. Again, if you have hardwood floors, have them tuned up, or sanded and re-stained as needed. Practically any beaten-up hardwood can be salvaged with refinishing, about $340 to $900 for a 15-by-15-foot room, according to CostHelper.com

If replacing flooring, keep in mind that Hardwood Floors are on many buyers’ wish lists (red oak being the most popular, according to the National Floor Trends 2010 market study). Hardwood flooring averages about $5 to $15 per square foot, plus about $2 to $8 per square foot for installation, so it’ll be pricier than vinyl, carpet, or other options. But it can make a huge difference. You may find less expensive hardwoods by going directly to installers, who buy their inventory wholesale. If it’s a small area (such as the entry), the upgrade won’t be as expensive. To imitate the look for less, try vinyl or Bamboo flooring, a sustainable resource that resembles wood but averages $4 to $6 per square foot.

If you have carpet, have it steam cleaned or if necessary replaced with a light a taupe Berber; it is appealing to most people and can make the room appear larger. If you’re adding inexpensive carpeting, consider upgrading the carpet pad. It’s only about 50 cents more per square foot and it will make a budget carpet feel more luxurious. If you have stone floors, have them pressure cleaned. Call a professional tile company to freshen up ceramic tile grout.

Clean the countertops, and the light fixtures. You can make a stainless steel sink shine with thrifty cleaning remedies such as WD-40, baby oil or club soda, according to DoItYourself.com. Restor-A-Finish (about $5 per can) comes in various wood finishes and can be used to polish cabinets and even blend out minor scratches and imperfections.

Show off the laundry space. Buyers will be impressed if the laundry room is fresh, inviting, and organized. Make sure light bulbs are working, and hide soaps in a cupboard or line them neatly on a shelf.

If you need design inspiration, grab a catalog from Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, or Williams-Sonoma. What you see in there is fairly consistent with what the average consumer is looking for.

New lighting fixtures are a quick way to create ambiance. Avoid brass lighting fixtures, which had their heyday in the 1980s. More contemporary choices are brushed nickel and chrome finishes. Also, rust and oil-rubbed bronze are becoming more popular as more home owners set out to have lighting that doubles as an accent feature. Use lighting to highlight special features—pendant lights to show off that kitchen island or sconces to illuminate a foyer.

Go natural. Open the blinds and wash the windows. You’d be surprised at how much a simple window cleaning can instantly improve natural light. Then take it a step further and remove the window screens. Be sure to clean the screens and store neatly in the garage so you can reinstall them once the house has sold! The buyers won’t question why there are no screens during the showing, but they will notice that the house looks bright and cheery.

A few gallons of paint can go a long way in making a home more chic. Stay neutral though and do not introduce too much color to the “bones” of the home. You don’t want buyers to see too much bold color on cabinets and walls and say, "I have nothing to go with that color". Better to bring in pops of color through accessories. Reserve darker or trendier colors for accent walls or to highlight details such as a fireplace or an arched doorway. Common color picks for accent walls are dark red, green (not lime green, though), or a stone gray. Instead of introducing a new color, use the paint in the rest of the room as a guide, choosing a color that’s three shades darker. To bring depth to a long hallway, paint the wall at the end of a long hallway a different shade than the others.

Create monochromatic harmony. Use different variations of the same color throughout the home. The Paint Quality Institute, a paint education resource, refers to this as “layering.” Choose a color card, which usually has about three or four similar hues, and use two or more colors from the single card. Use the lighter colors in the main living areas and darker shades for the rooms that branch out, such as the bedrooms.

For contrast, paint the baseboards white - Whisper White is a great color choice. If the home has dated stained-wood trim, simply painting it white can bring it up-to-date.

Look at your master bedroom as if it were a luxury-hotel suite. You only need a few items to impress. Thick white sheets and pillows. Thick white duvet and duvet cover. A nice tray with a couple of reading books. Scented reed diffusers (or scented candles). One plant to reach the ceiling (adds perceived height to any room) and, if room, a nice chair with reading light in the corner or a sofa seating area.

Plan your budget. Even small projects can carry a premium if a contractor is needed for installation. For labor savings, make a list of work needed, grouping several projects in a full day’s work rather than hiring a handyman or contractor for separate hourly jobs.

Keep in mind to complement the architecture. If you have a two-story colonial home, avoid overly contemporary updates, such as stainless steel countertops. Likewise, if the exterior is modern or contemporary, stay away from traditional styles, such as dark wood or classic lighting fixtures.

Add perceived square footage by dramatizing outdoor areas. If you have a small patio, put a mirror on the back wall to double the size and place a café table with two chairs, two placemats and colorful napkins with interesting napkin holders. If possible, hang a candle-light chandelier or an outdoor light above the table. If you have a larger area, create an outdoor living room with eating area. Outdoor living rooms are impressive to buyers and add to the perceived value.

Make necessary repairs before putting your home on the market. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Here’s a list of easy fixes you should address before putting your house on the market, and especially before the Buyer's Home Inspection:
1. Replace batteries in all smoke detectors.
2. Replace missing or broken switch and outlet cover plates.
3. Repair leaky faucets.
4. Tighten loose doorknobs.
5. Repair or replace outdoor weather stripping.
6. Caulk doors and windows at the exterior brick or siding.
7. Replace damaged or missing window screens.
8. Replace broken window seals in doors and windows.
9. Replace all burned out light bulbs.
10. Secure loose hand and stair railings.
11. Patch holes and cracks in walls and ceilings – then repaint.
12. Replace heating & A/C filters.

Now, onto Pricing Your Home...

If you know anyone who is thinking of selling, or purchasing a home, please contact me. I guarantee a service that will far exceed expectations.

Have an awesome week!  

Gwen Kelly
Real Estate Broker, Realtor ® 
Certified Real Estate Specialist
Broadmoor Realty, Inc.
5500 E Atherton Street Suite 310
Long Beach, CA 90815

DRE # 00552325

Phone: (562) 857-4936
Fax: (562) 741-4624
E-mail: Gwen@GwenKelly.com