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Staging and Selling Your Antique Home

Maureen Harmonay

I take my clients seriously. I take pride in doing a great job, and I love what I do...

I take my clients seriously. I take pride in doing a great job, and I love what I do...

Feb 7 8 minutes read

It's not every buyer who wants an antique home, but for those who do, presentation and preparation are everything.

While light and space are the attributes most likely to attract your perfect buyer, many older homes can appear dark and daunting, with wood paneling and small, divided light windows.  But there's a lot you can do to ensure that visitors will see and appreciate your antique home's best attributes, and envision themselves living there through the 21st century.

1.   Examine your home's exterior in search of missing clapboards or cobblestones, and signs of rotting trim.  Your pre-listing investment in repairing these eyesores--and potential deal breakers--will pay big dividends when it comes time for your buyers' home inspection.  They'll be on the lookout for signs of deferred maintenance, but by proactively addressing minor deficiencies now, you'll ensure a smooth sale.

2.   Anticipate the inevitable questions you'll get from serious buyers, who'll want a breakdown of the annual electric, heating, and utility costs.  Compile them now, so you'll be ready.  

3.  When it comes to older homes, buyers are particularly interested in any system, cosmetic, or structural upgrades or updates you've done in the last five to ten years.  Make a list of them, with dates and costs, so you can overcome objections from prospects who are concerned about the future costs of owning a home of a certain age.

4.   Don't hang pots or baskets from the rafters.  They will create a cluttered look, especially in the photographs, and they will have the effect of further reducing the height of ceilings that may be lower than what we've come to expect in more modern homes.

5.   Open the shutters, raise the shades, and pull back the curtains--let the light in!  Dark, heavy, or overly ornate drapes are best removed if they're not needed for privacy.  Keep in mind that the idea is to showcase your beautiful home, not your good taste.

6.   De-age your home as much as you possibly can, while emphasizing its distinctive character.  Remove old-fashioned dolls and doilies.  

7.   Make sure all interior and exterior doors open easily, without squeaking or sticking.  Polish door knobs and handles so their heritage shines through.

8.   Clean out seldom-used closets, discarding old dusty stuff that you haven't used--or even looked at--for years.

9.   Have your fireplaces cleaned and inspected before your home hits the market.  Remove all signs of ashes, add a pile of birch logs, and burnish the andirons so they'll look like handsome guardians of the hearth.

10.   Wash all the windows (inside and out), and if glazing or panes are cracked, repair them before you list.  You want to convey the impression that yours is a meticulously maintained home.  The little details count.

11.   If you've got gorgeous wide pine floors, but they've been scratched and damaged, consider having them lightly sanded and polished.  By making them gleam again, they will be able to better reflect natural light and make the rooms appear larger.

12.   Consider taking up most area rugs to expose wood floors, especially for the photos.

13. Remove arrangements of dried flowers.  Their faded colors and brittle texture will drag down the energy of a room, and leave an unwanted impression that the home's best days are in the past, not the future.  By all means, bring in fresh, vibrant flowers to enliven the space.

14.  Beware of dark corners.  Illuminate them with standing or table light fixtures, so these spaces don't get lost.

15.  Change out fluorescent bulbs for LEDs, everywhere.  As professional photographers will attest, fluorescents will cast a yellowish tint on a room and its furniture, which is exactly what you don't want when you're trying to showcase the timeless vibrancy of an older home.

16.  Don't neglect the basement.  Make sure there are no signs of water, insect pests, or rodents.  If you have a fieldstone foundation, patch any obvious openings where water or mice can seep through.  Install a sump pump and a dehumidifier, if you don't already have one, and vacuum away any cobwebs before buyers come through.  Dust or vacuum the exterior of your boiler, and consider painting your oil tank to give it a clean look.

17.  If your heating system hasn't been cleaned and serviced within the last 12 months, be sure to get that done before your home hits the market, and ask your service provider to attach a ticket with the date of his or her last visit, with a recap of the equipment's heating efficiency rating and a summary of any work that was performed.


I've been privileged to represent the sellers of many fine antique homes in Worcester County and the western suburbs of Boston, including:

Winterwood at Petersham, Listed & Sold 2016

  Winterwood at Petersham                                                                                2016

   Singing Winds Farm in Uxbridge                                                                       2016

    50 Cherry Street in Northborough                                                                 2016

    200 Crosby Road in Berlin                                                                               2017

    64 West Road in Petersham                                                                             2017

     265 Water Street in Clinton                                                                             2018

   95 Williamsville Road in Hubbardston                                                              2018

  519 Main Street, Dunstable                                                                                 2018

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