Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX


If your house is currently on the market or you're preparing to put it up for sale, the secret of success lies in the lyrics of an old popular song called "Accentuate The Positive." Although it was originally published in 1944, the song has been resurfacing for years on television, in movies, and music recordings.

"Accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative" may seem like basic, old-fashioned advice, but when homeowners follow it, they increase their chances of selling their home faster and for the highest possible price.

Although your real estate agent will provide a ton of helpful advice on how to present your house in its best light, there are dozens of things you can start doing now to improve its marketability, curb appeal, and the positive response you get from real estate agents and buyers.

  • Avoid or minimize any aspect of your home and property that gives the impression of neglect. That could include anything from peeling paint and cracked windows to overgrown bushes and weedy yards. Weeds growing out of cracks in walkways, driveways, and concrete flooring often looks the worst -- but weeds, in general, always detract from the appearance of a home for sale.
  • Reduce or eliminate anything that might create a feeling of "unpleasantness" in the minds of prospects. In other words, if there's anything about your home that might cause buyers to cringe, frown, gasp, crinkle their nose (in displeasure) or shake their heads, then you probably need to take corrective action -- and fast! A prime example would be pet odors, stains, and loose fur, which can be major turnoffs for many people -- especially if they have allergies!
  • If little or no interior painting has been done over the past five or ten years, there's a strong chance that your walls are faded, marred, and looking worse for the wear. A couple coats of neutral-colored paint can often infuse a more vibrant, updated appearance to those tired-looking rooms. Subtle, light colors -- although, not necessarily stark white -- are often advisable. The objective is to appeal to as many people as possible, without taking any decorating risks that might alienate anyone.
  • Speaking of "harsh versus eye-pleasing," your home's lighting is another important thing to scrutinize when looking for cost-effective ways to increase the attractiveness, appeal, and marketability of your home.
As you're searching for ways to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, try to view your home from the perspective of someone who's just seeing it for the first time. In all probability, your real estate agent will be enormously helpful in that respect, and immediately begin looking for ways to effectively stage your home. If they've been showing homes in your area for a number of years, they will have a good sense of what attracts and repels today's home buyer. Your agent can provide a professional opinion on everything from flooring and counter tops to wall colors and curb appeal.

If you're considering putting your home on the market, one of your first priorities should be making the property look its absolute best -- without spending a pile of money, in the process. Sometimes a do-it-yourself approach is the most economical way to handle home staging, but getting professional advice can help you stay on track, in terms of both money and time. There are a lot of talented and knowledgeable home staging consultants out there, but the benefits of hiring them are not always worth the cost. An advantage of working with a seasoned real estate agent or Realtor is that they have the ability to size up the visual appeal of a home and make recommendations on how to improve it. If they've been in the real estate business for a few years, they've received buyer feedback from literally hundreds of house hunters. As a result, they're very familiar with all the pet peeves potential buyers typically have, such as outdated decor, ugly wallpaper, cluttered living spaces, hideous artwork, tacky wallpaper, inadequate lighting, unpleasant odors, overgrown yards, or any aspect of a property that is cracked, peeling, broken, or in disrepair. Where to Begin With Home Staging If you're looking for free home staging ideas, you can always ask your friends and family for suggestions, but they might be hesitant to give you the unvarnished truth. Not only that, but their taste in decorating or landscaping may be less than exemplary! However, if you do know someone who has a knack for decorating, furniture arrangement, and/or landscaping, then they could be a great source of helpful suggestions, ideas, and inspiration. A good starting point for discovering economical ways to bring out the best in your home is the Internet. You'll get a wealth of practical ideas by Googling the phrase "increasing your home's value." Not only will you learn some useful home staging ideas from reputable websites, but you'll also notice many recurring themes for improving the look and feel of your property. Staging your home effectively involves a combination of common sense, knowledge of home buyer psychology, and the ability to objectively evaluate (and improve upon) a property's marketability. Cost-Effective Home Staging Advice A real estate agent or Realtor who has been showing houses for years has gathered an immense amount of informal feedback on what attracts and repels prospective buyers. While it doesn't take a home staging expert to pick out the obvious issues that need to be addressed, you'd be surprised at what a real estate agent with a trained eye and a few years of experience can notice. Improvements and changes which seem trivial to you may actually have a significant impact on how fast you're able to sell your home. In preparing your property for sale, one of the major factors to consider is the age-old concept of "cost versus benefits". Enhancing the appearance of your home beyond a certain point can produce diminishing returns, so it's a good idea to get a professional opinion when mapping out a house staging strategy. If you're lucky enough not to need any major repairs on your home, then preparing to put your property on the market can be as simple as eliminating clutter, keeping your home impeccably clean, and making sure your lawn is consistently well manicured -- which, of course, is easier said than done! A fresh coat of paint, here and there, can also make a world of difference, when it comes to making a positive first impression on potential buyers.

If you're in the process of preparing your home for the real estate market, get ready to roll up your sleeves and make your home as irresistible as possible!

While this may sound like an enormous undertaking that you don't have the time or energy to tackle, remember one thing: When you put your home up for sale, there's a lot at stake!

Generally, the longer your house stays on the market, the less marketable it becomes. If potential buyers learn that your house has been on the market for longer than, say, a few months, one of the first questions they'll ask or think will be "What's wrong with it?" Once questions like that start arising, the overall appeal of your home begins to decline. As you can imagine, your ability to get the highest possible price for your house also weakens over time. That's why it's important to do everything possible to enhance the look and feel of your home.

Home Staging Counts

Although effective home staging can be a crucial aspect of selling your house quickly, there is a point at which diminishing returns may come into play. Few home sellers have unlimited time and money to invest in staging their home, and it's easy to go above and beyond what's actually necessary to secure a buyer.

There are dozens of variables that affect a house selling strategy, including the real estate market and the condition of your home. If it's a "buyers' market" and there are a lot of comparable houses for sale in your neighborhood, then you might have to work a little harder to make your home stand out and attract offers. If you're fortunate enough to be in a desirable area and not facing a lot of competition from other home sellers, then the law of supply and demand should work in your favor! However, it's still important to make the most of your property's curb appeal and the overall appearance of your home's interior.

The cost of home staging can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, but your real estate agent can provide invaluable guidance on how to cost-effectlively maximize the "eye appeal" of your house and property. While perfection is generally an unattainable standard in home staging (or anything else), optimal results only come from putting your best foot forward.

Several words to remember and be guided by when preparing a house for sale are "immaculate", "spotless", "manicured" (lawn), "fresh" (looking and smelling), "updated", "well-maintained", and "charming". If prospective buyers are using those words and phrases to describe your home, then you know you're on the right track! Your agent can provide you with helpful insights and suggestions for making a great impression on potential buyers -- without having to spend more on home staging than necessary!