DIY for That Picture-Perfect Look That Lures in Buyers

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Selling your home can be expensive and stressful.

The traditional approach requires upgrades and updates, staging home showings and waiting for an offer, even if you don’t use a real estate agent. Thanks to an emerging online marketplace, you can forgo forking over a cut to a real estate agent and attract a wide group of buyers who won’t even see the sign you pluck into your front lawn. Real estate agents provide important services, however, so the decision to go the DIY route should be made only after careful evaluation of your market, the total costs and work required.

Younger buyers are busy, change locations more often in search of a better deal and are far more likely to find their dream home on an app than driving through a new town. Save thousands of dollars by getting your home ready for its online preview. You could have more than $7,000 to invest in the longer term as you settle into your new digs. Before you choose the right online platform to show and sell your home, get your castle in shape for sellers with these simple steps:

Staging on the Cheap

The average cost of professionally staging your home to appeal to potential buyers is a staggering $7,200, ac-
cording to real estate broker Crystal Leigh Hemphill of Miami Beach, Florida. That’s between $300 and $600 for an initial consultation and $500 to $600 per month per room. “A 2,000-square-foot home would cost around $2,000 to $2,400 a month,” she says. Professional home stagers generally require a three-month minimum contract, “even if you sell the home in 24 hours.” 

But depending on your local market, you might not need to hire a professional. You can take some simple but effective steps to stage the home yourself.

  • Declutter: Remove or hide any outdated or mismatched items, even if they’re your most treasured heirlooms. In the process, you may even make money by discovering items you no longer need that you could sell at a tag sale or online. Moreover, a clear, open space makes any room look much bigger. 
  • Deep Clean: You may keep your home tidy, but built-up grunge and grit needs extra attention. Think of your sales prep as a spring cleaning of sorts. You may have to invest in a hand-held steamer or extra cleaning supplies. You may be moving out, but seeing your home sparkling will motivate you to show it off to online seekers.
  • Shed Some Light: Take some shots of your rooms and you’ll see the crucial role lighting plays in creating buyer-friendly marketing. Consider the time of day and where the natural light enters each room. Move lamps around to see what plays best to highlight each room. You can also buy new light bulbs to brighten any space.
  • Get a (New) Handle on Your Space: You may be used to that loose kitchen cabinet handle or that rusty doorknob, but trust that it will stick out like a sore thumb once you’ve cleared out, cleaned out and lightened up your living space. You can buy inexpensive fixtures and add significant value to your virtual tour.
  • Add a Splash of Color: When it comes to decor with wide appeal, less is more. Now that you have an airy and sparkling space, purchase some accessories such as colorful throw pillows to add a sleek, modern look to an old sofa. Avoid busy patterns. 
  • Ambitious and Handy? You can take it further by re-painting or refurbishing your home, especially if you’re a do-it-yourselfer. You can also invest in some minor repairs, or pay a college student to paint only the rooms that most need a fresh coat.

 Selling Your Home Online

The good news about selling online is you show the home virtually, and with a decent smartphone, it costs nothing to create a tour of your buyer-ready abode. If you’re unsteady with the smartphone, ask a younger relative or neighbor to show off their skills. There are plenty of user-friendly platforms and apps that let you showcase your home to buyers you’d never attract with a traditional approach. Here are options:

  • Zillow Offers even boasts “don’t bother cleaning, because you won’t have to show your home.” If your home is eligible, Zillow Offers sends you a cash offer within a few days, then you decide whether to accept the offer, decline it or work with an agent. The service makes a cash offer based on a quick questionnaire and photos of your property. Zillow Offers reviews the information and calculates a fair price.
  • Simple Sale is a free service that introduces you to a network of preapproved cash buyers who compete to buy your home. You have no obligation to accept the offer. The company claims it “only takes 2 minutes.” For those fortunate enough to be selling luxury real estate, offers “the preeminent online marketplace dedicated to exclusively serving sellers of nondistressed luxury real estate.”

Conduct your own due diligence and carefully examine every online, non-traditional option. This rapidly expanding industry is ripe for new entrants with unique options that best fit different sellers and buyers.

This article was originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of BetterInvesting Magazine.

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