National Post, November 20, 2004
“Use winter to spruce up your home for spring market,” by Sandra Martin
For homeowners with itchy feet, the next few months will be a real bummer. That’s because real estate sales drop off in November, and stay subdued until spring. But while a wise course of action would be to hold off listing your home until the market picks up again, you needn’t feel paralyzed in the meantime.
Instead, the real estate service ForSaleByOwner.com suggests using the winter months to make improvements that will boost the selling price of your home — and also help it sell more quickly. Studies by ReMax suggest that if you do nothing else, you should get a bit of planting. The national realty chain has found the return on landscaping is 7% better than for any other home improvement.
ForSaleByOwner also recommends touching up any bedraggled aspects of your home’s exterior. Similarly, de-cluttering rooms and cleaning closets will make your home more appealing, and all it costs is a little time and elbow grease.
Trouble is, for many of us time is in short supply and, left to our own devices we could leave all those little improvements undone. That’s where a home stager, such as Debra Gould of Toronto’s Six Elements, can help. For $1,000 and up, she’ll come to your home, assess what needs to be done for maximum impact, then make it happen. “You’re trying to create a situation where potential buyers will fall in love with the home,” she says.
Depending on the neighborhood and what type of buyer might be drawn to it, Ms. Gould will rent furniture and buy a few accessories to create the illusion that someone like them already lives there. For example, when a childless couple in Toronto’s family-crazy Riverdale area hired her, she transformed two of their five bedrooms into kids’ sanctuaries.
In a few cases, the value of a stager’s service is the time and money it saves you in renovations left undone. “If it’s a tear-down type of situation, there’s no point in doing renovations,” Ms. Gould says, “because who really cares what color the kitchen is?”