Styled to sell: Tips that make your home appealing to buyers

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • October 3, 2015

We all know the feeling.

You’ve decided to put your home on the market. You’ve lived in it for a while. Decorated it. Renovated it. Upgraded it. Made lots of improvements. It looks great.

And it really does look great. It reflects your lifestyle. YOUR lifestyle. And that’s just the problem when it comes to selling a home.

Sorry, but it’s not about your style. It’s all about the potential buyer for your home. They need to be able to visualize their life (and belongings) in your home. If they can, they get excited and put your home on their favorites list.

And the process of styling your home for resale is a little tricky and most homeowners have difficulties handling it. Why? Because selling a home and moving under the best of circumstances is stressful, emotional and exhausting. The need to take a critical look at how your home appears to an outsider is tough for most homeowners.

 Declutter and remove personal items and add fresh flowers for a look that says "welcome to your new home." This Clara space-saving apartment sofa and ottoman are by Pottery Barn. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Declutter and remove personal items and add fresh flowers for a look that says "welcome to your new home." This Clara space-saving apartment sofa and ottoman are by Pottery Barn. Photo: Pottery Barn.

As a Southwest Florida interior designer, my Resale-Ready service helps homeowners cut through the clutter (literally) and determine what’s important to potential buyers. It helps to make the difficult decisions and allows the homeowner to make a sale and get on with their lives. My role is to showcase the home’s best features so it will sell quickly for the highest possible price.

And while we can’t magically add more square footage or an extra bedroom or bathroom, what we can do is this:  Make your home look fresh and new to potential buyers.  We can make them visualize their furnishings and accessories in your home. We can make it look larger and more spacious.  Like a model. We can tempt buyers to put your home at the top of their list.

Let’s face it.  You look at your home every day.  A professional, fresh set of eyes and a plan can change everything.  For a potential buyer and for you to enjoy while your home is on the market.

My top tips for homeowners preparing their home to sell:

First impressions are everything.

Start with the exterior. Replace your mailbox and your house numbers.  Something pretty and fresh. Head to Lowes or Home Depot and pick up colorful annuals.  They go a long way to saying "welcome to your new home." Pressure spray the driveway and sidewalk.  Clean out all of the grunge.  If you have pavers, give them a shiny coat of sealer. Purchase new light fixtures at the front door and garage.  These are very inexpensive and make the house look clean and cared for by the owner (you). Touch up exterior paint where needed.  If the house is in desperately in need of paint, go ahead and invest in a complete redo.

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Remember:  you are competing with lots of other homes on the market. Have the windows professionally washed. Hire a lawn service to fertilize and edge.  Have them come back periodically until the home sells. Buy a new welcome mat. Purchase two large ceramic pots and fill them with flowers at the front door.

Now your home says "Come inside!"

Invest in a professional opinion.

You are too close to your house. Have an evaluation done with designer or staging company that will prepare a list of changes that you can follow and complete yourself or hire the professional to get everything in perfect order. This is a small investment to sell your home.

It’s not about you anymore.

If buyers cannot visualize their life in your home, it’s simple. They walk. You have to show them how they will love living in your home. How? Remove all personal items. Replace with fresh flowers or books. Store excess furniture so you can open up your home. Pack up everything you can live without. Clear countertops.  Repaint accent walls in a neutral shade.

Declutter.

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You are going to pack up to move eventually so declutter now. Go minimalist. It may not be the way you live but it is the best way to show your house. Clean out every drawer and closet and pantry because buyers look in every single corner of your home. If your linen closet spills out into the hallway when you open it, a buyer assumes that you don’t have enough storage space. And they go on to the next house.

Create space.

Envision the way the space should be used. Is your furniture smashed up along the walls? Is there a corner in your living room that would be a great placed to read? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Make sure to have flow and walking areas through the room. Buyers must be able to envision themselves living in your home and the best way to do that is to show them a comfortable seating area.

Freshen it up.

Have your home professionally cleaned from top to bottom until it shines. Paint window sills and baseboards. Give your bathrooms a spa look with fresh paint and new towels and rugs. Replace any mirrors and lighting that are dated. It’s a good time to switch out your switch plates for a clean look. Opt for light colors on the walls that will reflect the light.

Take a step back.

When you are finished, take a long look at your home. Does the exterior say “welcome home?” Does it look like a model home with space and a comfortable seating arrangement?  Does it have a fresh, clean, decluttered look?  If the answer is yes, it’s time for the sale sign.


Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog