Selling in Tough Markets

Saturday, November 12, 2011   /   by Justin Hoffmann

Selling in Tough Markets

Selling your home in a tough market is stressful, but there are things that you can do to help speed up the process. Even simple details like rearranging furniture and replacing light bulbs can bring better results with buyers.

Where should you focus your attention? Start by looking over these tips and deciding which areas of your home can benefit from some changes that don't cost much yet can increase the offers on your home.

Off the walls: Moving your furniture away from the walls can make the room appear larger not smaller. A lot of people think it's the opposite. Of course, it depends on the shape and size of the room. If you're trying to make the room appear larger, just remember that you don't have to shove all the furniture against the walls.

Mix & match: Just because you bought a couple of pieces of furniture as a set doesn't necessarily mean that they have to live together in your house side by side. Sometimes you can take one item and place it in another room and create a unique look that actually fits your space better than when the two items were paired together. Move furniture and artwork around to see what is most visually attractive. It may not be how you lived in the home, but often the way a home shows best is not necessarily the way it's lived in.

Junk room: Even just adding a colorful chair and small table can start to make a room look more appealing. If you have a junk room, it's time to tidy it up! Even a room that is a "miscellaneous" room should have some pleasant decor. Give the room a purpose. Is it a reading and writing room? Is it a sewing room? Is it the game room? Help buyers see how you use the space. This way they'll get their own ideas about how to use the area.

Turn on the lights: A room that has poor lighting can make buyers want to leave the room quickly without even understanding why. They might feel cold, uncomfortable, and overall uneasy in the room. Staged homes look great often because of the lighting. According to, there are three types of lighting that help create good lighting: "ambient (general or overhead, task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall)".

Match the paint and drapes: This is an easy tip to make a room appear seamless. Paint the room the same color as the drapes. This creates the illusion that the room is larger and gives an unending feeling. Also, if you have an adjacent room you can paint it the same color and it helps the rooms to blend together and seem like one larger space rather than two small spaces.

Go neutral: Outdated furnishings and bold paint colors can turn off buyers quickly and even reduce offers. Don't worry if you've been turned off by the off-white walls you grew up with, neutral doesn't mean just boring beige anymore. Today, neutral colors include warm tans, honeys, and even soft blue-greens. Remember to use these colors in large areas. It's often a good idea to keep the extra bold colors to accent walls. Buyers don't always appreciate bold colors.

Rule of three: Our eyes are attracted to groups with an odd number of pairings. It seems groups of three are very eye-pleasing. But don't just take a trio of home decorations and line them up–boring! Use different textures, sizes (height and width), colors and shapes. Place them in a triangular formation. You can use a couple of groups of three on a larger table or surface.

Hotel Swank: The bathroom is one area to really take a close look at before your list your home. Just about nothing is worse than walking into a dirty, smelly bathroom. If your grout is worn or dirty, spend the money to get it cleaned and sealed or do it yourself. This can be a tedious task but it will help when it comes time to sell your home. Get rid of any countertop clutter like electrical cords and items that somehow wound up in the bathroom but have no reason to be there. Add a couple of mildly fragrant candles and roll your towels (like the hotels do) and set them on a counter or in a basket; it'll give it that welcome feeling -- like visiting a spa.

Remember selling your home in a tough market is about creating broad buyer appeal. Buyers are sure to appreciate special finishing touches, especially when some listed homes (like many foreclosures) aren't being maintained.

by Phoebe Chongchua

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