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Keys to staging your home for sale

Lighter paint, some freshened art and heavy decluttering helped quickly sell this Seattle-area home (photo courtesy Molly Sandvick design.)

When it comes to getting your house ready to sell, there’s no shortage of opinions and so-called experts, but some of the best tips are the simplest ones.

Molly Sandvick, of Molly Sandvick Designs, joined the guys this week on Home Matters to talk about the most important things that help to get a prospective buyer to bite.

“The most important thing is that when the person drives up to the house it looks good,” says Sandvick.

That can mean something as simple as painting the front door, edging the lawn, and filling planting beds with fresh top soil or bark. Sandvick says clean windows are especially important.

“It’s amazing. I don’t get my windows cleaned as often as I maybe should because it’s kind of expensive. But the whole house is sunnier,” says Sandvick.

While she loves to overhaul the whole house whenever possible, Sandvick says the most important room is the first room a prospective buyer sees: usually the living room or the family room.

“Right off the bat what I see is tired pillows on sofas, they’re just very well loved,” says Sandvick, “it’s a cheap fix, and it’s amazing what they do for a room.”

Target and Fred Meyer, among others, both offer inexpensive pillows that can make a house pop.

Sandvick also brings in some eye catching artwork. Lighting to highlight the new pillows and the artwork is critical.

“I see a lot of really dated lamps, really out of style, with dingy dusty lampshades,” she says.

Sandvick says to stay away from those old halogen lamps that stream a harsh beam straight to the ceiling.

“I cringe every time I see one,” she says.

One of the biggest projects that can make a house more appealing is to re-paint inside walls. Sandvick prefers neutral colors throughout with some color accents in just a few places around the house. Since many buyers are now required to come up with more for a down payment, they don’t have the extra money to paint or install new carpet when they move in and will be more attracted to a house that looks more finished.

Aside from the entry rooms, Sandvick says the kitchen is the most important area for improvements.

“We always say the kitchen sells the home,” she says.

You don’t have to rip out all the counters and cabinets and install new appliances (although it can make a huge difference). Something as simple as new hardware on the cabinets can make a significant difference. As for color, Sandvick says gold is out, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze is in, as are lighter colors for cabinets themselves, instead of the traditional Northwest earth tones.

The master bathroom, which is often dark and cluttered, is also important for homeowners who are looking to sell.

“The master bathroom needs to feel very light and airy and clean,” says Sandvick. “Anytime you can, lighten up the paint. And I take absolutely everything off the counter tops and the tub and replace it with new soap pumps.”

Like buying new pillows in the living room, Sandvick suggests investing in fresh, fluffy new towels and a rug to make the visitors in bathroom “feel like they’re in a hotel.”

“Suddenly people don’t notice the old tub,” she says.

It can all seem daunting, but Sandvick insists much of it is easy and relatively inexpensive and can go a long way to helping get way more out of your house when you finally sell.

Listen to the full conversation on Home Matters:

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