Making your home look and smell good is a key component of selling it, real estate agents say.
By REBECCA SLOAN
Spring showers bring May flowers, but they also bring something else: plenty of "For Sale" signs in the front yards of area homes.
Whether homeowners decide to sell their homes on their own or work with real estate agents, there are a number of things to do to help ensure that the "For Sale" sign isn't still posted in the front yard next Christmas.
Looks count: According to Curt Misik, a real estate agent with Century 21 Mill Creek Realty Group in Howland, a few coats of fresh paint will help turn the heads of prospective buyers.
"It doesn't cost a lot to add a few coats of fresh paint to the inside or outside of a home, and a little paint can go a long way in attracting a buyer because it brightens the home up and gives it a fresh, new look," Misik said.
Just be careful what colors you choose.
Colors that are too bright or garish can repel a prospective buyer faster than a termite problem in the basement or a septic tank that hasn't been pumped since 1970.
"Beige, gray, white, taupe -- these are your best choices. Not everyone likes robin's egg blue or bright pink. When a home is painted in neutral colors, the buyer can better picture the home decorated with their own styles and colors," Misik said.
Like a fresh coat of paint, a little landscaping also helps.
"With springtime coming, it's a good idea to plant a few flowers and do a little landscaping. It makes the home look more charming and increases its outdoor appeal," Misik said.
During the dreary winter months, a cheery wreath hung on a door or a colorful, seasonal flag waving from the front porch will brighten things up when flowers cannot.
Adding shutters to windows, washing windows and adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door will also increase a home's exterior appeal at any time of the year.
Getting ready: Annalies Joss of Hubbard has already applied fresh, neutral-colored paint to both the exterior and interior of her home that is for sale on Belwick Avenue, and as soon as the weather allows, she will also plant some flowers.
"I'll get a few annuals to brighten the yard up," she said. "My husband and I are going to relocate, so we are doing everything we can to make our home appealing to buyers."
So far, the Josses have also re-graded the yard and even plan to have the septic tank inspected.
"Our home hasn't been on the market very long, but we are really motivated sellers. We have followed all of the suggestions of our Realtor to make our home appealing," Annalies said.
The Josses' selling agent is Angie Bianco, also of Mill Creek Realty Group.
Cut the junk: Like all real estate agents, Bianco clued her clients in on one of the cardinal rules of home selling: minimizing clutter.
"The home should seem open and spacious, and the buyer should be able to easily imagine their own decor inside the home," Bianco said.
Misik said real estate agents can't stress enough to their clients how important it is to reduce clutter.
"The home should be homey and should have a warm feeling, but there shouldn't be so much clutter that the buyer can't even see countertops or walls. Before you put your home on the market, it is a good idea to have a yard sale and get rid of all the unnecessary junk," he advised.
Misik recommends removing excess knickknacks from sinks and countertops and minimizing pictures on walls to help make rooms seem larger.
Although basements are often used as storage spaces, Misik said sellers must remember that buyers will want to see the basement floor and walls to check for any moisture problems.
"If you have a bunch of boxes stacked in your basement against a wall, the buyer might assume that you are trying to hide something on that wall. If you use your basement for storage, you can neaten things up by buying some inexpensive metal shelving," Misik suggested.
The nose knows: Although a home that appeals to the eye is the first step to a signed contract, the home should also appeal to the nose.
Burning a scented candle or baking some cookies or a loaf of bread before a scheduled showing will create a pleasant aroma and inspire buyers to stay longer and look around, Misik said.
And if you share your home with pets, by all means keep pet odors under control.
"If you have pets in your house, make sure to have your carpets cleaned," Misik said.
Removing pets from the home before prospective buyers are scheduled to look is also a smart idea.
"Cats and dogs roaming underfoot are annoying to buyers, and this can also present a problem for the Realtor or the seller if the cat or dog escapes through an open door while the house is being shown," Misik said.
Lighten up: Another tip: When buyers come to look, make the home as bright as possible.
If the showing is scheduled during the day, open all the blinds and curtains, and if the showing is set for the evening, turn on all the lights in the house. Misik said making the home's interior light and bright not only makes it more inviting, it makes it safer.
"You want people to be able to see where they are going. You don't want someone to trip and fall," Misik said.
If your home happens to have a fireplace, Misik also recommends lighting a fire before buyers come to look.
"But this is a good idea only if the Realtor will be arriving the moment that you leave since you don't want the fire to burn unattended," he said.