As the days grow shorter, you’ll find you have fewer hours to show your home in its best light -- sunlight, of course. Without it, after-work house hunters will miss out on the full impact of your home’s curb appeal. They’re also walking in at that dreaded witching hour when most homes are far from their sparkling best -- during the messy aftermath of evening activities like sports practices, mealtime and homework.
Professional home stager Val Allocco of Staged 2 Sell NY in Northport offers five tips for showing a home after sundown:
1. Light up
“It goes without saying that all outdoor lights should be on,” she says. Scrutinize the overall outdoor picture and make sure it’s inviting -- not creepy. “Make sure the lights are clean and free of cobwebs, dead bugs, etc., since buyers will be focusing on what they can see as they enter the home.” Make sure paths and steps are clearly visible and safe.
2. Spruce up
“Create a warm and welcoming entry,” Allocco says. “Have a clean welcome mat, freshly painted door, clean storm door.” She suggests brightening up the entry with a seasonal wreath and potted flowers.
3. Light unscented candles
They will create a warm glow, but put them in safe spot, cautions Allocco. “Make sure that potential buyers cannot bump into them or knock them over.” If you have a fireplace, light it, she says, “or just place some lit candles in the fireplace for ambiance.”
4. Clean up
Tidy up evening clutter such as toys, mail and schoolbooks. The kitchen and bathroom have to be sparkling and fresh -- a tall order at the end of a long day. “The kitchen needs to be immaculate, so clean and put away all dishes and cookware. Speaking of meals, if you have pets, make sure that you remove their feeding dishes and water bowls. Buyers should not be able to tell that you have a pet living in the home,” says Allocco. Remember to keep the toilet seats closed, shine the sinks and counters, and hang clean, neatly folded towels, she adds.
5. Freshen up
“Prior to the showing, open all windows to let fresh air in,” Allocco advises. “Make sure that there are no cooking odors lingering from the family meal. In fact, if possible, take the family out to eat,” she says. Especially avoid cooking foods with lingering odors, such as fish or ethnic dishes, she adds. “Run the vacuum, and sweep or damp-mop floors to give a fresh look and scent.” Don’t let the place feel stuffy. “Even though there is no natural outside light, keep the blinds and curtains open in order to give rooms a more spacious feel,” Allocco says. “Purchase one or two bouquets of fresh cut flowers from the grocery store and place in vases around the house, including the bathrooms. “Having the fresh flowers throughout the home helps to compensate for not being able to see the outside landscape through the windows.”