The housing market is improving and that's good news for you if you are a seller who has been waiting on the sidelines for higher prices.
Housing prices are on the rise and the good news gets even better if you are ready to sell and heed sale-price-maximizing tips from a top-rated interior designer.
Interior Design magazine named Winter Park, FL-based Marc-Michaels Interior Design the No. 1 U.S. residential design firm not only because founder co-CEO Marc Thee is the best at what he does for homeowners staying put.
He also knows how to prepare a home to sell for top dollar.
Thee says staging is worth the money, but if you are short on cash that doesn't mean you can't give your listing a model home look to boost your selling price.
Here's just a sample of Thee's trade secrets:
Rent a portable storage unit. Clear the clutter and move what you want to keep into a portable storage unit. It's a lot easier to park a portable storage unit in the driveway than the two-step approach of loading a truck and unloading it at storage facility. You need to clear the clutter to turn your home into an appealing and spacious canvas for the buyer's imagination.
Work room by room. Start at the front door. Make it open and welcoming with simple accessories, say, an open console to contain the shoes, umbrellas and backpacks. Consider a large mirror over the console and a pair of candlestick lamps adds brightness and reflectivity.
Liven up the living room. Look for a good anchoring "focal point" - a terrific view of a garden, lake, ocean, or fireplace wall to "celebrate." Rotate furniture to orient toward the focal point. Give rooms a more spacious feel by "floating" furniture on an area rug instead of placing furniture against the walls. If your room lacks a focal point, create one with art or color blocking -- painting an accent color in a large square or rectangle to make smaller art appear larger when you hang it within the painted area. Be aware of the energy of paint .
"Don't make it too crazy - you are trying to please a potential buyer so a calm neutral color is likely to be the best choice," says Thee.
Kitchens sell houses. Get rid of those silk plants, roosters, cat clocks and clown platters. Put away the toaster, the mixer, the canisters, the spoons in the jar. Make room in the cabinets for these items by storing the extra utensils, glasses, plates, cups in the storage container. Purchase a really big bowl for a single display of seasonal fruit such as apples, oranges, or pineapples for the countertop or kitchen island. The more you put away, the better the kitchen will look. Counter space sells kitchens. A few simple clusters of cookbooks, oils and vinegars on a tray and a chic spice rack is all you need to hide the electrical outlets.
Spruce up the bedroom . Lose the patterned bedding in the bedroom. Instead use a fresh white duvet or cotton blanket. Simplicity sells. Busy patterns distract. Repaint bold bedroom colors with tranquil pastels, or light grey and putty neutrals. Light and airy also sells. Remove heavy curtains and nightstand clutter, add matching lamps and add a few art books. If you don't have drawers, buy a simple lidded box to contain the remote control, Kleenex package, and tattered paperback.
Re-master the master bath. Replace Old World gold and amber light fixtures with more contemporary clear or frosted white glass. Use a tray to anchor odds and ends that collect on elongated counters. Use artful boxes or containers to conceal frequently used items such as contact lens solution, hand lotion, and hairspray. Small glass jars for swabs, cotton balls, and small soaps make for an attractive and practical display. Replace pink, grey, black, toilets with a white one. Hire a tub re-glazing specialist if your tub's color is dated.
Use photo stylists' secret weapon. Bring on the live plants. Orchids, succulents, and air plants make a huge difference on a coffee table, dining table, or nightstand. It is also inexpensive and incredibly chic to cut branches or large tropical leaves and place them in large vases on a fireplace mantel, kitchen island or dining room buffet. Only use silk flowers that appear so authentic even touching them leaves doubt.
"I have seen a few faux orchids or succulents that fooled me - but I still strongly recommend live plants over silks," Thee says.
Have second thoughts about selling. Your for-sale home do-over should be so compelling you want to stay.