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Real Home Critique - Ladue News: Special Features

Real Home Critique

De-clutter to Reveal Assets

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:00 am

You may think a realtor’s job is limited to showing people your house and negotiating the sale. But it really starts way before that, when he or she first views the home, and offers tips on how to make it more salable. Agents tour a house with one thing in mind: What will make it more attractive to buyers? So whether you’re interviewing several prospective selling agents or have already settled on one, ask for their feedback and weigh it carefully. To that end, Ladue News asked three agents for their suggestions on how to make one Ladue ranch home more salable.

“When there’s so much inventory on the market, you need to think of selling a home as being in a beauty contest,” explains Laura Lynne Kennedy of Prudential Alliance Realtors. “First impressions and curb appeal are everything. So from the exterior standpoint, I would give this house a fresh paint color, declutter the yard, remove the basketball net and some of the sculpture, and put up bigger house numbers,” she said of our house.

Inside, Kennedy singled out the owner’s profusion of curios. “She has some amazing pieces, but they’re very personal to her. That’s good. But what the owner likes isn’t necessarily what everyone else likes,” she points out. “We probably don’t need to have as many pillows, for instance,” she said, pointing to a sofa heaped with cushions. “A room should always have its own identity. For instance, make one room an exercise room rather than putting an exercise bike in the bedroom. Also, the owner should allow more wall space to be seen, to emphasize that it’s a big house.”

In the girl’s bedroom, the poster bed was placed with the headboard against an old sliding-door closet. “The feet shouldn’t flow out the door like that, at least according to Feng Shui,” Kennedy says. “I would shift the bed’s position away from the closet, so the headboard is near the windows.” In a bathroom, which is one place buyers look for the most value, Kennedy says the round, dressing-room lights are dated, the wallpapering and borders were too personal, and the rugs should be removed when showing the house.”Less is more,” Kennedy emphasizes.

Barbara Wulfing of Janet McAfee comments, “It’s a very ornate house to begin with. We’d want to work on the yard, sweep the front porch.” Wulfing notes two large seasonal figures, saying “move the figurines to give better access through the living room. In general, she should have more open space.

“She should lock up very valuable things, like jewelry and little pieces of china. You don’t want a little kid at an open house to pick something up and drop it,” Wulfing cautions. In the dining room, where the shades were pulled down on some of the glass-windowed walls, she suggests pulling the shades up. “Make it look as bright and cheerful as you can.” In the kitchen she nixes a large, bronze rooster sculpture and other knickknacks. “She should make the counters look clean and not so cluttered.”

In the octagonal master bedroom, Wulfing allows more leeway. “This room is large and can handle the collections in it. The bed fits beautifully into the room. Maybe remove just a few knickknacks and move the glass vase, which looks out of place.” The vase, the only piece of glass art in the room, had been propped against a tall wooden sculpture.

“At first I was overwhelmed, but the house has personality,” says Liz Little, an agent with Edward L. Bakewell. “I like homes with personality, but I would deemphasize some of her articles. She also has some strong color. Everyone’s going to come in with their own palette, but I don’t think that means she needs to get rid of her own color.”

Little starts with the yard. “Clear off the roof and gutters. If buyers see that maintenance on the outside isn’t up-to-date, they’ll wonder about the inside,” she advises. In the family room, Little suggests, “This is where I would be living. But it feels a little like a store. I would tone down the big, heavy, bronze pieces. I recommend getting Pods to store things in.”

Pointing to a stained glass window hung over the kitchen sink, Little adds, “Considering all the wonderful stuff, we’d have to make an exclusion list to make it clear to buyers what is the owner’s and what comes with the house.” Little points out a small tear in a screen door. “We should write all these little things down and see if it fits in the budget to fix them. If not, go with the top choices, like patching a wall.”

Personal feedback from your agent can definitely make selling a home a less arduous life passage.

Photos by Jason Mueller

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