Center Stage

When you’re ready to sell, prep your home to look its best.



Michael Erard/VHT Studios

Making a good first impression is important, and when it comes to selling your house, it’s essential. The moment potential buyers pull up to your home, they need a reason to walk through the front door—instead of driving away. “It all begins outside,” says Realtor Sally Kamrada of Realty Executives in Orlando.

Creating Curb Appeal

“Curb appeal is most important for drawing in a potential buyer,” notes Susan Pridgen of PB Interiors in Winter Park. “Clean, clean, clean, and add a fresh coat of paint to the front door.” Both Kamrada and Pridgen say that decorative pots brimming with boldly colored flowers are an easy, inexpensive way to enhance your home’s entryway.

Kamrada also recommends refreshing landscaping with fertilizer, mulch, new plants and sod replacement where needed. And don’t neglect walkways, the driveway, pool deck and patio; power-wash away the dirt and debris. She also suggests removing your window screens to make your windows sparkle from the outside and let in more light.

Details make a difference from the curb; install new door hardware and house numbers, and if your mailbox could use a makeover, replace it. But before heading to the home improvement store, advises Kamrada, hire a licensed and certified building inspector to thoroughly check your home. The inspector may uncover unexpected issues that you might be wise to address before putting your home on the market. A long list of repairs can scare off some buyers; a pre-listing inspection can prevent that.

Inner Beauty

Once you get potential homebuyers through the front door, the real “sell” begins. Most people know to declutter their home, but there’s a more subtle and equally important step to take: depersonalize. That means removing all personal photos and mementos, sports memorabilia, kiddie drawings on the refrigerator and so on. You want buyers to visualize themselves living in your home, and it’s easier for them to do that if they don’t subconsciously feel that they’re intruding on someone’s personal space.

Laura Gilmore, whose background as a home stager and organizer serves her well as a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker in Orlando, says that after you’ve decluttered and depersonalized, a fresh coat of light, neutral paint on interior walls can work wonders. “This is a simple fix and will immediately update your home,” she says.

Another fairly inexpensive enhancement—and one you can take with you to your new home—is the purchase of updated home décor such as bed linens, rugs, pillows, lamps and artwork. If your furniture is looking a little worse for wear, give it new life with slipcovers, says Pridgen. “And invest in a few indoor plants—like orchids in decorative pots—to make your space feel alive.”

Behind Closed Doors

Staging your home for sale isn’t like staging your home for a party—you can’t toss all your stuff in a closet until your guests go home. “Crowded storage areas send a negative message that the property is lacking storage,” says Kamrada.

“Closets need to be organized and clean,” adds Gilmore. “Cleaning out your closets before listing will make them look bigger to the buyer. This includes pantry and linen closets.”
And kitchen cupboards and drawers, too—throw away all those freebie plastic sports cups and mismatched food storage containers. Stack dishes and cups neatly, and junk that junk drawer by dumping the contents into a plastic storage bin and hiding it away in the garage. Do the same in your bathroom cabinets.

Show and Tell

On days when your house is being shown, pull out all the stops. “Style” your indoor and outdoor tables with pretty placemats, dishes and glassware. Hang fresh towels in the bathroom. Put out a new welcome mat—literally.

While those visuals are key, Gilmore says it’s equally important to appeal to other senses—what home-shoppers hear and smell is also critical. “There are simple things that make a home feel inviting, like baking chocolate chip cookies or bread before a showing,” advises Gilmore. “Smells can also go negatively, so make sure it isn’t overdone. Music should be playing if possible; something light and classical is best.”

Finally, turn on every light, open all the drapes, make sure floors and countertops are immaculate—and then leave. Let your agent conduct the showing so potential buyers can feel right at home.   

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