When you're ready to sell your home, there is one room that can sway a buyer over all others: the kitchen. As a seller, your kitchen should be uncluttered and clean, and the biggest assets—your appliances—should take center stage.
While you may think staging your home is only to accommodate the personal preference of potential buyers, take a look at these convincing statistics: 95% of staged homes sell on average in 11 days or less, and sell for 17% more than other homes on the market, according to ASP Home Staging Statistics.
If you were told your home could sell faster—and sell for more—wouldn't it make you reconsider home staging? Your kitchen should reflect your commitment to the home's maintenance and assure buyers that your house is the perfect one for them. There is no bigger turnoff for a potential buyer than touring your kitchen and not being able to decipher the refrigerator door front because it's covered in family photos!
Take a look at these simple tips to help stage your kitchen and appliances to appeal to buyers.
Create a kitchen that is welcoming to potential buyers. All images via: Susan Serra – KitchenDesigner
Declutter your kitchen to make it stand out
If you're like the average homeowner, your kitchen is the heart of the home, and it often shows it. The lifestyle of your family—eating, cooking, doing homework—can take its toll in forms of clutter. Too many small appliances on the countertops, magnets and paperwork covering the refrigerator and lots of spices and cooking utensils on the stovetop will be a turn-off to buyers.
According to the HomeGain 2012 National Home Improvement Survey, "Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2003). This low cost home improvement is recommended by 99% of real estate professionals. The average recommended cost for this project is $402 with a returning value of just over $2,000 to the home's sale price, or a 403% return (ROI)."
With the small cost of decluttering, you can see what a major return on investment can do for the sale of your home and your wallet.
Declutter your counter tops and remove all non-essential small appliances. Toasters, can openers, utensil containers and excessive cookbooks can make your countertop look junky and unappealing. Store items in closed cabinets or in an adjacent kitchen pantry, or remove them altogether. You will be surprised at how much larger your kitchen will feel and look once you remove extraneous items. Use this same technique to clear off your major appliances and wipe them down clean to reveal their controls and finish.
Clean out your major appliances
Whether you want to believe it or not, when you aren't home, potential buyers will look inside your refrigerator, oven and dishwasher. After all, these are major appliances and buyers want to see what is included in the kitchen—plus, the way you maintain them will reflect on your care for the home, as a whole. Furthermore, when you clean your appliances regularly, you'll know at once if any of them needs an appliance repair service. If you notice that a couple of your appliances need repair, contact a well-renowned appliance repair specialist in your area for a quick fix.
There is nothing more embarrassing than a potential buyer knowing what you and your family ate for last night's dinner because it's all inside your dishwasher or dirty dishes are stacked up in the sink!
Optional: Upgrade your kitchen appliances
Major appliances are just that: major. They are an investment, but can also make a difference in the selling price of your home. If your appliances are outdated or in disrepair, consider replacing them before putting your home on the market. Realtors will tell you that new kitchen appliances are a major selling point for potential buyers. Energy efficient models can bring you a higher return on investment. If your appliances need to be serviced, call a Same-Day Appliance Repair service to take care of the issues before potential buyers tour your home.
Another option for "upgrading" your kitchen appliances is to use simple do-it-yourself methods to upgrade the appearance of a dull stainless steel refrigerator or dishwasher.
According to Designer Lisa LaPorta from HGTV's Designed to Sell, in her "30 Can't-Miss Home Staging Tips," stainless-steel appliances are definitely in with buyers. Instead of buying a new dishwasher, here is a low-cost way to resurface an old one: First, remove the front panels, and clean them. Next, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering, and cut it to size. For just $20 your dishwasher will go from outdated to ultra-modern."
My home staging clients that are on a budget like to use this trick: Add furniture oil to wood cabinetry doors to bring out the luster of the natural wood. Kitchen cabinets and kitchen appliances are the major focal points for buyers' eyes, so create a kitchen that impresses them.
Selling your home takes a major investment in time and energy, and can be an emotional rollercoaster if you're not ready for the challenge. Arm your kitchen with the right ammunition by decluttering it and cleaning out your appliances and surrounding surfaces to make the space look inviting and welcoming.
I always tell my staging clients: if you have time, bake some fresh cookies and put on a hot pot of coffee before an open house, you can also send cookies and invites to potential buyers. You will be surprised how comforting and welcoming your home becomes! Use these helpful tips to ensure your kitchen sends the right message to potential buyers this season.
About the author: Home lifestyle and design expert Ronique Gibson writes on home design and décor for Home Depot. Ronique is the author of the interior design ebook 111 Simple Tips for Your Everyday Home. You can view Home Depot's broad selection of appliances for upgrading your kitchen here.