The final days of the flip can be the most important. You have finished fixing all the big things; the appliances, the bathrooms, the floors and the paint, but now you actually have to sell the house, which means it needs to look nice.
This is where the staging and cleaning come into play. Cleaning is self explanatory, except that when you hire someone to clean, they get paid whether the house sells or not. You only get paid when it sells. At the end of the day, someone hired to clean would see a bathroom that they spend a few minutes cleaning, but a potential buyer would see dirty grout, a loose tile, and drops of plaster on the tiles. These can all be red flags to a buyer because they’ll think “If they couldn’t even fix the little things, what big things did they leave undone?” If a house isn’t properly cleaned the buyer will assume that the seller is lazy and skimps to save money. What you really want is to inspire confidence in the buyer by having the quality of your work highlighted.
“Staging” is the other important step in selling a house. After you have fixed everything, cleaned the house, and fixed everything that wasn’t already fixed, you need to make the house look like humans can live there. The problem with showing glistening white houses that look perfect is that people think “Only robots could live here!”
You don’t have to move in everything, but with staging, a little goes a long way. This means in every bathroom there should be: toilet paper, hand-soap, trashcan, shower curtain, bath towels and hand-towels. In the kitchen there should be: soap, dish towels, paper towels on a paper towel holder, a bowl of fruit (lemons work well, or good fake fruit), some flowers (fake so they won’t die), and a few coffee mugs. Put a welcome mat outside the front door, a screen in front of the fireplace, and a painting on the mantle. The goal, like I said, is to make the house look like humans could inhabit it, not cavemen, so make it look nice. Don’t skimp; staging materials can be reused, so think of them as an investment. Do NOT buy a plastic shower curtain from the dollar store! Buy bathroom items that coordinate and look expensive, you want people to feel like they are moving up when they move in. If you don’t know what to buy, find the best dressed woman around you and ask her what she would put in her bathroom (it might not work every time, but it will get you close). Target, Kohls and Macys are good places to start. Also, don’t buy plain white towels, it can make bathrooms look sterile if there is too much white, we want to simulate a home life, not a place where crazy people live.
In essence, the last few days of the flip are aimed at finding all the little things that have been overlooked, cleaning up, and making the house look livable. What do you think and what have your experiences been when getting ready to complete a flip? Leave me a comment and consider sharing this blog post to your social contacts in facebook, twitter, etc.
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Written by Mary Blair Stratton