Preparing Your Home for Sale

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

If you want buyers to be interested in your home, you need to show it in its best light. A 2016 National Association of Realtors (NAR) study shows that 92% of buyers start their search online. A good first impression can influence a buyer both emotionally and visually. In addition, what the buyer sees first is what they think of when they consider the asking price. It has to show well online through photography!

A bad first impression, even online before they even visit, can dissuade a potential buyer. Don’t show your property until it is READY to show. Don't assume buyers will "see around" things that can easily be fixed. You do not want to give buyers the chance to use the negative first impression they have as means of negotiation.

Alos, don't take advice personally. Ask around for the opinions of others. Real estate agents who see houses everyday can give solid, honest advice on what needs to be done. It’s often hard to separate the personal and emotional ties you have for the home from the property itself.

Before your house hits the market:

  • Make sure your home has nice curb appeal. Trim hedges, clean out weeds, mulch beds, remove yard debris, remove grease spots from the driveway.
  • Repair gutters, mend fences or mailboxes as needed.
  • Paint outside as needed – shutters, trim and especially the front door. Stain a deck or power wash a patio.
  • Wash windows, inside and out. Make sure blinds and shades work.
  • For the inside, touch up paint or consider painting rooms.
  • Remove personal items like large family portraits or table top displays of family members in frames.  
  • Clean appliances, especially the oven. New burner pans are good for the stove and remove all magnets and refrigerator art.
  • Remove warn throw rugs and have carpets professionally cleaned.
  • Declutter! Remove excess furniture and other items that take up too much space. Clean out bookshelves and toys. It may be worthwhile to rent a temporary storage unit.
  • Make closets look larger. Remove Items that can be stored elsewhere. Neat, well-organized closets show ample space.
  • Check major appliances. Change the filter on the furnace and air vents. Clean the exterior of the water heater, furnace and other appliances that will be seen by prospective buyers.
  • Call an exterminator if you have visible problems with ants, spiders or mice.
  • Fix minor flaws in your house. Fix damaged doors and drawers, the doorbell, tighten door knobs, fix leaky faucets, repair caulking in tile work.
  • Make sure all light bulbs and electrical switches work, replace bulbs with higher wattage to brighten up a room.
  • Finally, consider professional staging. It is proven that a professionally staged home sells faster and at a higher price! It will return many times the nominal cost.

Before each showing:

Showing your home can be stressful. You can’t always control schedules and you may not always be there to prepare. During the time your home is for sale, do your best to get into the habit of keeping your home tidy and neat whenever you leave ... just in case.

  • Show the bright side of your home by opening curtains and blinds. Let fresh air in, open windows or air it out before showings.
  • Clear off counter tops leaving minor decor and clean appliances like toaster and coffee pot. 
  • Make sure the kitchen is clean – no dishes in the sink – wipe counter tops down and make sure floor is swept.
  • Keep carpets vacuumed and try to remove pet hair from furniture.
  • Make the beds and tidy the bedrooms.
  • Try to hide excess wiring for TVs and computer stations.
  • Make sure the bathrooms are sparkling. Shower door, ceramic tile and grouting should be free of water marks and stains. A new shower curtain is a great investment.
  • Keep a clean set of guest towels to put out in the bathrooms for showings. Clear off all items like toothbrushes, make-up and wet washcloths from the sinks.
  • If possible, do not have any pets at home while showing. Try to remove all pet-related items like kitty litter, dog beds and food dishes. 
  • Take out the trash – you don’t want any smells.
  • Create a nice scent with potpourri or drawer liner, but do not overdo. A scent too strong may look like you are hiding something.
  • Turn on the porch light when showing the house after dark. Also have the house well lit throughout when the hour of the appointment nears.
  • Keep cars in the garage with doors closed.
  • Have live plants or flower arrangements around ... they add freshness, color and make a house a home!

Next: Marketing Your Home for Sale

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