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Real Estate

A small renovation can make a huge impact

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and neither does your home. Even a nice place in a desirable neighborhood will linger on the market if buyers are too distracted by clutter and minor cosmetic imperfections that easily could have been fixed prior to any showings.

It’s a lesson one Washington, DC seller learned the hard way. Her basement condo — just two blocks from a Metro station — had seen a steady stream of prospective buyers but no offers.

Eyesores such as uneven paint, a bad wall repair job, an empty dining area and general messiness seemed to be scaring buyers away. The real estate agent advised the seller to lower her asking price by $10,000, prompting her to seek professional home staging advice.

For about $1,500 — including wall repair work, paint, furniture rental and staging fees — the seller was able to create a fresher, more appealing space (and add that $10,000 back onto her asking price).

Even if you have a limited budget, you can make a huge impact on your property by following a few key tips:

Clear out the clutter

Kitchen before

Clutter is distracting and creates the impression that a room lacks storage space. In the kitchen above, the stainless steel appliances and upgraded cabinets and countertops were obscured by appliances, dishes and other items that simply needed to be put away.

Kitchen after

Remember less is more: Make the most of your kitchen’s space by limiting the number of items on the countertops to a few essentials such as the coffee maker and paper towel holder.

Define the purpose

Dining nook before

You might not use your dining nook for eating, but having a designated dining area could be a major selling point for some buyers. The space above, located just off the kitchen, lacked purpose and didn’t seem like a usable space.

dc staging zafter 005

Now, a small table and chairs define the previously empty space, giving buyers an idea of how they could live in the condo.

Show what you’ve got

dc staging before 004

Did you notice the interesting alcove in the photo above? Chances are most buyers didn’t either. Architectural details such as crown molding and chair rails top some buyers’ must-have lists, but in the living room above, they’re barely noticeable.

Living room after

Removing the unnecessary curtains and placing a geometrical bookcase in the nook highlights the previously unused space, making it a focal point. A rug, coffee table and art complete the transformation into a warm, inviting living room.


Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC). She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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