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Handyman: Readying home for sale an art — and a science

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

The arrival of spring also marks the unofficial beginning of the home selling season. If you are planning to list your home for sale, how will potential buyers perceive it? That can be the big difference between selling a home quickly and for your asking price, or having to take less after months of waiting for the right offer.

If you are planning to sell your home, you have to look at it objectively and make sure it will be attractive to a specific buyer.

“You definitely don’t want to make a bad first impression on a potential home buyer,” said Carolyn Stieger of We Stage Greater Detroit LLC, (248) 515-2156, westagegreaterdetroit.com.

Stieger said one of the first things sellers need to do is research other homes for sale in their area to determine if the “competition” homes are in pristine condition or need some work. Then they have to think about how their home looks in relation to these other homes. And today, that first impression means more than what it looks like at the open house.

“First we have to make sure the home looks good on the pictures posted on the Internet, because that’s where people begin to look for a home to buy,” she said.

She said it is also important to know who the potential buyers will be to determine what you need to do to sell your home. “The age of the buyers really matters when you market a home,” Steiger said. “Older buyers may not care about a home’s decor being trendy, but younger buyers often do.”

“There are generally two types of buyers,” she said. “One doesn’t want to pay full price and plans to invest in changes to the home after they buy it, and the other, such as a busy younger couple with children, want it ready to live in immediately without having to do anything to it. ”

Steiger said regardless of the type of buyer, it is always important to clean up and organize your home and create a warm, cozy feeling when people come to see it. But no matter how it’s decorated, having too much stuff in a room negatively impacts a buyer’s perception.

“If your master bedroom is overflowing with stuff, it will give the impression that you don’t have enough closet and storage space,” she said. “Even having too many books in a bookcase can make a room feel crowded.”

Stieger said it is also important to have a good balance of items in a room and make sure that you highlight that room’s selling features, such as crown moldings, a fireplace or that view of the lake. By organizing a room and re-positioning the furniture, you can also make it appear bigger.

Fortunately, the time you spend getting your home ready for buyers to look at will be well worth it, because the spring housing market is in full swing.

“The market has been strong since January, and there are definitely more buyers out looking at and comparing homes now that it is spring, so sellers need to make sure their home is ready to sell,” said John Yugovich, a Realtor with Keller Williams in Farmington Hills, yugovich.yourkwagent.com, (248) 790-8424.

Yugovich said for most home buyers the kitchen and master bath are main focuses when they compare homes for sale, but general maintenance also comes into play.

“I always tell my sellers if it is broke, fix it, if it is dirty, clean it, and if it is cluttered, declutter it,” he added.

He also said that it may make sense for sellers to hire a professional staging company. “I never would have said that in the past, but today it makes sense to make the home look like a model home to increase the chances it will sell,” he said.

Just like any other “project” around the home, getting it ready for sale means you need to heed my advice about the importance of proper prior planning.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.