Home & Decor

Preparing your home for sale

Text by: Glen Peloso

I can’t walk by an open house. The “For Sale” sign beckons like a carnival barker, calling out to me: “Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!”

Unfortunately, when I get inside the house, all too often it reminds me of a circus.

In my professional career, I’ve occasionally taken on the role of “fluffer” – a cute word I hate having applied to me.

When I’ve been called in to fluff, it is generally by real estate agents who want me to prepare a house to go on the market. The deadlines are usually very strict, so I have no time to build rapport and get to know my clients. I have to be blunt and tell it like it is.

People’s noses get out of joint. They think I’m judging their lifestyle. I’m not. I’m window dressing, quite literally, trying to attract customers to help them imagine their life in your house.

Nor should anyone believe that a fluffed house in any way relates to real life. No sane person would ever want to live in a storefront window, or a house devoid of any human trace. Once a home is fluffed and on the market, homeowners have to make the psychological break and stop thinking of the house as theirs. It belongs to someone else.

If you’re looking to sell, follow the rules of fluffing.

First: clean, clean, clean! For some reason, people overlook windows – a big mistake. Make sure you clean all of the windows in the house or hire someone to do it. Shiny windows give the whole house an air of freshness. It’s well worth the investment.

Clean the carpets. If the house needs painting, do it. Again, it makes the house seem that much cleaner and cared for. Paint is worth $20 in the can but $200 dollars on the wall!

The next chore is to tackle the clutter. Get rid of it. It makes people feel uncomfortable, and it can make rooms feel small and closed in.

Start at the front door and work your way through the house. Make sure the entrance is as nice as possible. Get a welcome mat, paint the exterior of the door if it needs it and get rid of the shoes, boots and coats that clutter up the entrance.

Put away all of the family pictures. Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re in your old house. They want to feel like they’re in their new house. If you have artificial flowers, replace them with fresh ones. Get rid of the piles of books and seriously cull the knickknacks. Simple, clean surfaces are the best way to go.

If your furniture is worn, store it and rent something that looks good. People shouldn’t judge a house by the decorating tastes of the owners, but believe me, they do.

Light a fire in the fireplace to set the mood and draw attention to it when buyers are coming through. Replace any burned-out light bulbs – potential buyers may wonder if there’s a problem with the electrical system.

In the kitchen, clean the counters. Prospective buyers don’t want to see your stack of mail and flyers, papers and pens. Put them in a drawer or in a box in the basement. Same thing for your utensils. The kettle, toaster, waffle iron, juicer, food processor, countertop grill and coffee maker have to be reduced to two items – the toaster and coffee maker, perhaps. If there’s too much stuff, people will think there’s not enough counter space.

In the dining room, put flowers on the table with a couple of simple candleholders. Again, clear out the clutter. If you set the table, don’t set eight places at a table that comfortably seats four.

In the bedrooms, make the beds! If you need new linens or bed covers, get them. They don’t have to be the finest of linens, but they should look clean and fresh. Clothes should be in the closet and drawers. And for goodness sake, if your animals have their own beds, make sure these go in the basement, along with their litter or food bowls. The animals should not be in the house during the showing.

The bathroom is a crucial area. Put everything away – no lipstick, toothpaste or brushes. A clean glass for water, some fresh soap and towels is all you need. Room freshener is also a good idea, just don’t use it too heavily or too close to showing time.

Think of a fluffer as the manager of a store. If you want to get top dollar for your wares, think Holt Renfrew, not bargain bin.

Celeb TV Designer Glen Peloso Glen’s name is known internationally, appearing on over 300 contracts in both commercial and residential design. His success lead to the start of his own firm, Glen Peloso Interiors. www.glenpelosointeriors.com

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