Buy My House! - Part 2 - - The News for South Mississippi

WLOX News Special Report

Buy My House! - Part 2

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  • WLOX News Special Report

    Buy My House! - Part 1

    Buy My House! - Part 1

    South Mississippi's housing market is experiencing a post-Katrina slump. Home sales last year were down 28 percent over 2006, when almost anything on the market was grabbed, no matter what the price. Today, prices remain high, and homes remain on the market much, much longer. Meggan Gray set out to find out why it's taking homes longer to sell.More >>

When selling, homeowners can control two things: the price and condition of their homes. Prices are coming down. But what about the condition of a home? What it looks like when a potential buyer walks in? Experts say the key here is keep it clean, and keep it simple.

Realtors say now is the time to buy. Rates are low, and options are plentiful. If you're selling, however, the competition is stiff. Ocean Springs realtor Lynn Wade says, you need to be ready to compete.

"Your house has to really be in top shape. It has to be real presentable, you have to have that wow factor. You got to be ready to sell."

For many, that may mean making some changes. I had a chance to walk through a home in the Ancient Oaks area of Biloxi with interior consultant Shelley Pringle.

Pringle says, "When I come into a home I always like to look at what it feels like as soon as someone enters."

She has experience staging homes on the market, and has learned a few simple changes can make a world of difference to buyers. Realtor Michelle Filipich agrees, and says the foyer is a great place to start.

"Pretty much when someone walks in the house they have an opinion of it. I mean a couple of steps in, they can tell you if they're going to like it or not."

Filipich believes that's why staging can play such an important role in selling a home.

"Some people just don't have an imagination about a home, so the best thing to do is de-clutter it, pick up, and have it as neat as possible."

In this case, the homeowners have moved out, and left only a few pieces of furniture. As we walk through the house, Pringle makes suggestions on how to make it more appealing.

She takes me in the second bedroom, which is decorated as a nursery saying, "It is very cute, but I think a lot of times people come in and they just can't see beyond the way it's decorated. So, what I would do is remove the great window treatments, and they are wonderful, wonderfully made, but they need to be removed. And remove the paper and maybe paint it a warmer, neutral color."

Pringle also suggests adding a bedside table and chair to make the room feel more cozy.

As we move through the master bedroom, and into the master bathroom, Pringle says removing the blue bath mats, and replacing them with a circular rug, would be a bit more inviting.

"And get some towels, clean, crisp white towels to fold or wrap up on the counter or over the shower, and maybe a small plant."

Stains on the carpet, even small ones, can turn off a buyer. The expert's fix -- a flooring allowance.

Filipich says, "Sometimes they choose not to replace it. Instead of putting that money towards flooring, to give you the money to let you do what you want with it."

In the kitchen, the homeowners have done a great job of eliminating clutter, which is a big issue for existing homes. Pringle says that's an inexpensive problem to correct.

"Declutter. Get rid of clutter. Less is more."

Pringle sees a lot of potential in the living room of the house we're touring.

She says, "The vaulted ceiling it gets that open feel, and the fire place and the book case really anchor this room, and I think is the focal point."

Pringle wants to showcase the area by taking advantage of the extra storage space. So she clears what's on the bookshelves, to begin the transformation.

She explains as she goes: "When I do bookcases, I usually put all of my books and heavy items in first, and stagger them throughout. And then I like to spruce with some greenery, as well as some photos. But using all different types of texture. The books, and the ceramics, and the metals and the woods are real important. You want things that look new and bright and livable and something that doesn't look dusty and old when you're coming in, so it's inviting to have fresh fruit, you know green plants."

And it doesn't have to cost a lot. Pringle suggests pulling things from other rooms, or scowering thrift stores for hardback books and accessories.

Filipich says, "The main thing is to make it feel homey."

Another tip - aroma. The smell of a home can really make an impact, so Pringle suggests you try lighting some candles, or even baking some cookies before potential buyers arrive. Also, remember to remove the really personal items, so buyers have a more neutral picture of what could one day be their home!

By Meggan Gray

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