Updated: Sep 29, 2018
We’ve found that window treatments are one of the most overlooked items when homeowners are preparing to list their homes on the MLS. Statistically, when a would-be-buyers is asked what they’d like in their new home, a consistent response for almost everyone polled is having as “much natural light as possible”. You may not be able to fully control the amount of natural light you have due to the time of day, window placement, or weather conditions outside, but one thing that you can do to help flood as much natural light into the rooms as possible is to lift all blinds and shades to their fully opened positions.
If you have plantation shutters, make sure you open all the louvers. If you have curtains or draperies to contend with, consider removing them altogether or at least pushing them all the way to the side, as much out of view and distraction as possible. Curtains, especially curtains in poor condition, ones that don’t fit properly, or ones that don’t match the current colors and décor of the room can contribute to making a room feel dated, dark, or heavy, depending on their age, color, and condition. I sell custom draperies all day long. There is a time and place for them, so I am not “down on drapes” I just know from a professional point of view that they can get in the way of a new buyer seeing past the potential of the room and only seeing heavy drapes. Today's buyers predominately want open spaces and clean lines. Finding a way to make the rooms in your home have a fresh, clean feel will reflect in your selling price.
When we help homeowners’ stage their homes, one of the first things we do is to take down as many heavy window treatments, especially the drapes, as possible. Our experience tells us that drapes make rooms look and feel heavy and dark, even if they’re open. A designer tip: If you must keep the drapes, having them mounted as close to the ceiling as possible and having them "dust" not drag on the floor give a more designer appearance, which buyers will appreciate. As professionals, we always take down any window treatments that are tattered, outdated, dirty, don’t match the current décor. If you’re planning to spend any money updating parts of your home to prepare it for sale, window treatments are one of the easiest things you can swap out. New window treatments can easily to give your house a “facelift”. We recommend moving towards something clean and light, like a roller shade.
If your budget only allows replacing faux wood with faux wood, believe it or not, a prospective buyer will take note and having current (or at least new) window treatments may separate your home from one down the street. If you have builder grade window treatments, like the least expensive faux wood blinds available, chances are some of the cords or slats are broken, or the blinds don’t lift properly, a buyer may notice. If you have any broken slats, pull those down immediately. Never show a buyer broken window treatments.
At a Very Minimum, Clean Old Window Treatments
Most people will spend a lot of time cleaning their homes before their first open house or hiring someone to do it for them. Many homeowners don’t consider that caring for their window treatments and getting them in tip top shape for future showings is an important step. When we sell new window treatments to our customers, we always recommend regular maintenance of their window treatments so that they offer extended years of beauty and function. Further, nothing is worse than opening a shade that’s collected years of dust. Bet your bottom dollar, if that shade hasn't been lifted in a while, a buyer will pull the cord and be left with a plumb of dust, leaving a bad impression. They'll think the whole house is as dirty as the blind. They also won't want to inherit someone else's dirt. For more information on cleaning your window treatments, click here.
Before you list your home, you'll want to thoroughly clean all window treatments that you plan to leave up and installed. If you have curtains, you’ll want to take them down and try washing them at home or better yet, taking them to a professional dry cleaner. Check labels to be sure you’re able to wash your curtains. If your curtains are very dirty or have a lot of material, allowing enough room in your washing machine to fully clean is important. While no one ever seems to go to the laundry mat anymore, many do have really large capacity washers, allowing for plenty of water movement and washing time to really get the dust and build up odors out of the draperies. Any shades, blinds, or shutters should be wiped down with a damp cloth or follow manufacturers’ recommendations. If doing the work yourself isn’t possible, for whatever reason, you can find window treatment cleaning specialists in many area.
While we suggest removing window treatments from main living spaces, if possible, it is a good idea to leave some type of window treatment in the bedrooms and bathrooms. If your window treatments are in bad shape and they’re better off being removed completely. If replacing them is not an option due to time or finances, you can easily and affordably install temporary shades. Temporary shades are clean, light filtering and will at least show the space a clean canvas.
What Should You Do with Custom Window Treatments?
Our recommendation is to leave them. If you’ve decided they’re going to stay up, they’re likely clean and a style that will appeal to today’s buyers. We’ve heard it over and over and appreciate that custom window treatments are expensive, and homeowners inquire all the time about taking their custom draperies to their new home. This is a tricky one. On one hand, we suggest that you remove your personalized window treatments like draperies, but a new homeowner may absolutely love the draperies if they match the look and feel of the house. We approach “to leave or to stay” on a case by case basis.
If your draperies are a heavy tapestry fabric and the overall feel of your house is in line with the draperies, we’d suggest leaving them up. Be sure to communicate with your listing agent your stance on your window treatments, particularly the ones that are not fixed to windows, such as draperies. If you absolutely want to take them to you new house and attempt to repurpose them, be sure your listing accurately discloses this. If you have wood planation shutters, we suggest you leave them. I’ve never heard a buyer walk through a home suggesting taking down the shutters. If your shutters are in good condition, they increase the value of your home. It is very unlikely that you will be able to repurpose existing window treatments in your new home as they are custom and sized specifically to these windows.
Keep in mind that window treatments matter to many new buyers. As I talk with my real estate friends, I learn that window treatments fade into the background and are not a point of interested unless they are either shutters, which the buyer is likely very excited about, or they are dark and dirty. If a buyer walks into your house and creates a checklist of all the things they don’t like, keep window treatments off that list. You can do that by either removing the ones don’t work for the space or are dirty. We suggest raising all window treatments like shades and blinds to their fully opened position to allow as much natural light in as possible, keeping the eye on the house, not the windows.
Hiring a professional staging company may be something that you want to consider. Your real estate agent should have a list of stagers they have experience working with that can guide you on what buyers want in your area and how your how will be received by todays’ buyers. Consider paying for a consultation if you don’t have the money to have staggers do the work for you. We charge $159 per consultation to help buyers create a list of items that will have buyers seeing your house in the best light, you just have to do the work.