With the busy real estate season just around the corner, it’s time for prospective sellers to smarten up their properties’ curb appeal, and get the house presentable for the market.
Powell River resident Ranka Burzan, who launched her home staging and organizing business 16 years ago, said the key to sellers maximizing the value of their asset is to ensure homes are free of clutter, and well organized.
“Cluttered homes don’t sell,” she stressed. “Less is always more.”
Burzan began her career in home staging by publishing articles and books on the subject. While tidying up the house might seem like an everyday chore, Burzan said her clients often need professional input to make tough choices about which household items remain on display, and which get boxed up.
“Organizing is a project; it’s letting go of the stuff that’s a barrier to life,” she said. “It’s not just staging, it’s downsizing first.”
Burzan suggests 10 key tips for people looking to prepare their home before inviting realtors and prospective buyers inside.
1. The outside of the house is equally as important as the inside. Make sure the driveway is clean, and the lawn is looking fresh. “The realtor can’t make buyers go inside,” said Burzan. “If there’s oil on the driveway, it’s cracked, or they see you didn’t cut the grass, they’re not going to drop by.”
2. Make sure paint on the house isn’t peeling. “A couple of coats will do, and it’s very cheap,” she said.
3. Tidy up the doorway. “Newspapers? Hockey equipment? Don’t bother, they’re not going to come in,” said Burzan. “If buyers have to jump over all that, you’ve lost them already.”
4. Make sure everything is in working order, whether it involves taking a do-it-yourself approach or hiring a professional. “Fix the faucet, fix your dishwasher,” she said. “Everything has to be in working condition.”
5. Keep pets out of the way and take dogs for a walk during viewings. “A lot of people are scared of pets,” noted Burzan. “Some dogs have a smell; so do cats.”
6. Take the time to define each room. “Buyers shouldn’t be guessing ‘what the heck is this room used for?’” she said. “If in doubt, it can be a guest bedroom.”
7. Have sufficient lighting throughout the whole house. “Buyers have to see what they’re getting for their money,” said Burzan.
8. Eliminate unpleasant smells. “If you just fried fish, boil vinegar,” advised Burzan. “It will soak up all the fish smell.”
9. Use containers and boxes to store your things. “Grab an attractive box from the dollar store,” she said, “and shove all your papers in it.”
10. Decorate your home to make it more inviting. “Use candles, plants and flowers,” suggested Burzan, “and put nice towels out.”
Summing up her philosophy, Burzan quoted Anne Maurice, host of British television show House Doctor: “You want buyers to drop by, not drive by.”