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The current COVID-19 crisis has us all spending most of our time at home in quarantine and in Houston it is fair to say that – as is the case all over the world – the real estate market has slow considerably, as it is very difficult for Realtors to show anything but highly sanitized vacant homes for sale and many potential home buyers are unsure about house hunting trips in general.
If this crisis has stalled your plans to sell your home, and you will be waiting until life begins to make a return to normalcy before you place it on the market there are still things you can do to prepare your home for that time while you do the right thing and remain in quarantine. Here are some actionable tips and pieces of advice you can follow:
Learn to “TDS” (Toss, Donate, and Store)
It’s essential that you spend time sorting items throughout your home to be stored, donated, or tossed. This doesn’t have to be an overwhelming endeavor. In fact, it can be relatively easy – and even therapeutic in these confusing times.
Start by setting up your zones. Clear an area and post three signs to the wall, several feet apart, with removable painter’s tape: “Toss,” “Donate,” and “Store.” Go through the house and move into those three areas (or mark with sticky notes) anything and everything that is not stage-worthy.
Toss anything you have not used in two years or more and is not in good enough shape to donate. Random junk and eyesores should be thrown away as well.
As you build your “Toss” pile, go by the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind,” and swiftly place items in the garbage or dumpster so that you don’t agonize over them.
Unless you think you will have the time and patience in the future to host a garage sale, plan to donate any unwanted items that are in perfectly good shape as soon as you are able to. While you may not have not used an item in some time, it could make a huge difference to someone who desperately needs it.
For now, while still under a stay at home order – as we will be in Houston until at least the end of April – pack this things in boxes, mark them as items to be donated and store in a basement, attic or spare room.
Once the market is active again there will be certain items in your home that you certainly plan on taking to your new place but will not have a real place in a staged home (even one you live in while it is on the market) These items might include collectables, family photos, toys etc.
You don’t have to put these away right now, as they may be bringing comfort to you right now – we know our family photos are, especially the ones of those who are far away and we can’t see right now – but at least make notes about what these items are and where they are located. That way when your home does go on the market they can be moved to a safe storage unit far more quickly and easily.
Most of us plan a spring clean anyway, and with extra time at home you now have the chance to do the kind of amazing, attention to every detail cleaning job that is an essential part of the home staging and selling process anyway.
Baseboards, blinds, ceilings, ceiling fans, and switch plates must be sparkling clean, not to mention floors, carpets, drapes, fireplaces, kitchens, and bathrooms. Move furniture and clean behind everything. Remember, you’ll have to do this anyway prior to a purchaser’s walk-through – so do it now instead, and sell your house fast and for an optimal price when the housing market in Houston does heat up again.
Stage the Exterior
Nothing in the current guidelines suggests that you must stay cooped up inside 24/7. In fact that’s the last thing you should do, as not only is that bad for everyone’s mental health but failing to get the daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun that everyone needs is bad for your physical health and can lead to long term health issues, especially in kids and teens.
However, you do have to think about social distancing while outside, so what better time could there be for you and your family to get out into the yard and start beautifying that in preparation for the time when your home will hit the market?
This is an especially good idea as homeowners are often so preoccupied with their home’s interior that they can overlook a prospective buyer’s all-important first view of the property: the outside.
While too many trips to the garden center are probably off limits right now get out there and take a good long look at what you can do. Does the grass need filling in? Are the plants spindly? Would some mulch, white gravel, or cedar chips – which can all be ordered online from outlets like Amazon – save the day? Are there old, ugly plastic pots or pieces of mismatched lawn furniture hanging about? Do your borders and edges need to be refined?
Kids are great help when it comes to outdoor cleanup, so if they are a part of your household hand out the rakes and brooms and let everyone in the family chip in. This kind of project gets everyone involved in the selling-and-moving process, and right now it will also give everyone that time in the sun – and the exercise they really do need.
Get Virtual Help
It’s hard for a professional home stager to physically work in an occupied property right now, but we can – and our team does – offer virtual home staging consultations. Via Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing platform we can brainstorm strategies and offer advice on what you can do right now to get your home ready for full home staging and then make plans for what we can do when the market does improve when the current restrictions are lifted and you can place your home for on the market for sale.