Garages were invented to keep your cars out of the weather, but half of them have never been occupied by a car. Most residential garages are in a continual state of disarray — cluttered, disorganized, dirty and full of junk you don’t really need. Back yards can be just as bad. Because they usually are not visible from the street, homeowners are prone to neglect them. It’s a gradual process and you don’t realize how bad it is until somebody else, like your real estate agent, points it out.
If you think the garage and back yard aren’t important to house shoppers, think again. Here a few bits of advice to stage your garage and back yard to impress potential home buyers.
The Garage: The Black Hole of the Clutter Universe
You can make an immediate, everlasting impression on the male half of the house-shopping couple by merely spending a couple of days and a few dollars sprucing up the garage. Here are the things you need to do:
- Throw out all the clutter, or at least put it in off-site storage until the house sells.
- Clean every surface, including floor, ceiling and walls.
- Cover any exposed wall studs and ceiling joists with drywall or paneling. This alone can add $25,000 to the perceived value of the property.
- Provide plenty of light. A few eight-foot fluorescent shop lights are enough.
- Get everything off the floor. Decent five-shelf units run about $50 each. KC Store Fixtures has 4 x 8 sheets of slatwall for $35. Two of these will hold more tools than the average homeowner keeps and they look far better than pegboard.
- If the floor is raw concrete, make it impeccably clean. Better yet, put down garage flooring for less than $2 per square foot. It looks fantastic.
- Park a car in the garage on the day of the showing.
The Back Yard: Some are Just a Little on the Trashy Side
The back yard looks okay to you and you’ve seen worse. Well, it doesn’t matter how it looks to you, it only matters to the couple who are looking to buy your house. Here’s how to make the task easier and less costly:
- If you have a deck and/or a hot tub, make it look inviting, relaxing and irresistible. The spa needs to look brand new. Clean it inside and out and replace the cover, if necessary. Treat the water with a clarifier so it sparkles. Put in new filters in case the prospect wants to check. A good place to get parts and supplies for your hot tub is HotTubWorks.com.
- Mow the lawn and edge the walkways and perimeter. If the grass is dead, consider laying sod.
- Get an inexpensive outdoor table and a couple of chairs. An umbrella is a nice touch. Some decorative plants around the table area look nice. Make it look like an interesting place for breakfast, or a romantic candlelight dinner for two.