10 Things That Make Buyers Bite
© 2011, HGTV
Photo By: Kitchen designed by Mary Broerman.
Photo By: Living room designed by Ann Wisniewski.
A Nice Entryway
And if you don't have an entrance at all, make one. "A lot of my buyers have mentioned that they don't like to just go through the front door into the living room," says Los Angeles-based Realtor Rhonda Kohn.
This problem, more common in condos and apartments, is solved by cleverly placing furniture to create more of an entryway. "A console table or demilune chest of drawers with something over it creates a welcoming vignette," says designer Sue Adams of Andover, Mass.
A synthetic wood floor, like Pergo, "is always a good option for those who can't afford hardwood," furthers real estate agent Rhonda Kohn. But know that a laminate floor "won't fool everyone - it has a hollow thud when you walk on it and it doesn't look the same," adds designer Sue Adams.
"Newer construction is so chintzy with fixtures and fittings," observes Miami-based interior designer Simon Temprell. Replacing knobs and drawer pulls "is the quickest way to make over a bathroom or kitchen," he says. And when it comes to faucets, he adds, "for $60 or $70 dollars you can buy something infinitely better" than what you likely already have.
"Rip out that big sheet mirror and those globe lights that look like you're in a theater dressing room," suggests designer Simon Temprell.
Replace them with an elegant framed mirror (don't be afraid to look outside the bathroom section, he says) and sconce lighting on either side.
This lighting scheme is also more flattering to the face, observes designer Sue Adams, and making buyers feel pretty will pay off!
So when it comes to slab countertops, granite is the top pick because it's hard, nonporous and easy to care for. But then again, so is Corian, so are composite stone surfaces such as Silestone and, she notes, with the help of today's sophisticated sealants, so are concrete, limestone, soapstone and marble.
Even butcher-block, which is much less expensive than stone, can be a more appealing alternative to tile or laminate countertops. "When it gets funky, you can sand it and oil it and it looks good again," she says.
Already have granite? Make it cutting edge. "A lot of people are honing their granite now," adds Applewhite. "What that does is knock it down and make it more matte, so it looks warmer and more inviting. Shiny surfaces can look very cold."
Steel This Idea
As far as other alternatives go, the designers agree that in general, black fixtures can look dated, while white is okay for a country kitchen. And some people are making appliances blend in beautifully by ordering front panels to match their cabinetry.
"They make you feel secure and calm and people need that," notes designer Sue Adams. And while you don't need to use high-end organizers, make sure that the materials are up-to-date. "Twenty years ago, closet organizers meant wire shelves. You can't slide anything over a wire shelf. You can't even put a hanger in some of them," she says. Today's ideal would be "melamine shelves, in bone or white, with some drawers and metal rods to maximize storage," she says.
This organization shouldn't stop in the closet - make sure your kitchen cabinets are orderly, too. "If they open up a door and see a big pantry, but it's not organized properly, it won't be as exciting as something already organized with a place for everything," says real estate agent Theresa Evans.
"Lighting is probably the most overlooked, yet the most important aspect of interior decoration," designer Simon Temprell says, adding, "In newer construction, you don't have sufficient lighting. The reality is that everyone needs three types - task, ambient and decorative lighting - which allow you to change the mood of the room."
When it comes to recessed lighting, know that the smaller the fixture, the more updated it is. "We used to have six-inch apertures, now we have four-inch openings. And using halogen bulbs gives a cleaner, more modern look," says designer Sue Adams.
On the other hand, says designer Simon Temprell, "It can be a catch-22 because some people would rather organize their own furniture. Sometimes it's better to have freestanding pieces that look like built-ins, that you can give the buyer the option to purchase.
Grass Is Greener
Were you thinking of putting in a concrete patio or rock garden? Don't bother if you're putting your home on the market. "A flat yard is a real plus. Spend some money and put in the grass. It's a good seller," says real estate agent Rhonda Kohn.
Furnish That House
But in general, "people look for a homey kind of a feel," adds real estate agent Kohn. And that's homey, not homely. If the bulk of your furniture isn't attractive, don't hesitate to have it staged (propped with attractive rental furniture). "We're even seeing that done in the inexpensive condo market," she says.