GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO SELL:
You wouldn’t take your automobile to a dealer hoping for a good trade without a little detailing and spiffing up, would you? Neither should you put your house on the market without the same kind of thoughtful cleaning up and touching up.
First impressions can make or break the sale of your home. That means you need to take a objective look at the outside of your home. What do you see that, if you were a home buyer, might cause you to say “yuk!”? Look first at landscaping. Often flower beds may have not been properly cared for and weeds are growing, or bare patches of ground may be showing. Some simple addition of timbers, landscape rock or mulch may be needed. It can help to brighten the exterior of your home with some seasonal flowers or shrubs that are in bloom. They add a merry “welcome” to your home’s curb appeal.
If you have vinyl siding, do a wash down, especially if there is any hint of mold or mildew. Use a simple concoction of ½ cup bleach to one gallon of water for this purpose.
If your house or trim is painted, examine it for any need of touching up. Don’t overlook simple things such as new front door hardware, a new mailbox, or replacing a cracked window pane.
Your lawn is a major attraction—or distraction—to selling your home. Keep it carefully and neatly mowed and treat it for weeds. Edge the sidewalk and driveway and trim any unruly shrubs or tree branches. Sweep the front porch, sidewalks and driveway. Repair and paint any fences or gates that may need some help.
Avoid cluttering up the outside of your home with lawn ornaments. You may think they’re cool, but a potential buyer may consider them a turn-off.
Don’t forget the backyard. Every buyer will check out that area as well, so make sure it’s as spruced up and inviting as you can make it.
Most sellers don’t look at the interior of their house as the buyer will. Because you’ve lived there for so long, you may well have become immune to some faults or unattractive features that the buyer will immediately pick up on. Make sure that doesn’t happen by doing a little preparation in advance. Some quick tips:
- Painting: Look for any dingy or faded painted walls. In some cases, a little touch-up may do the job. Which rooms should you paint? Any that have dirty or marked walls or any rooms that are currently painted in dark colors. Keep it neutral--offwhite or antique white is best.
- Carpeting: At the very least, all carpeting in the house should be steam cleaned. Any worn, stained or foul smelling carpet should be replaced. You may be tempted to give a "carpet allowance" in your selling price, and that may work. Just remember, most buyers do not have vision.
- Operation: If you are not having a whole house inspection done, check all faucets, toilets, and electrical items for correct operation. Make sure there are no drips or leaks. Check all doors, including closet doors, to make sure they open easily and without sticking.
- Safety: Make sure that your house is safe. Not only can a wobbly stair railing deter a sale, it could also cause an injury to a potential buyer who is not familiar with your house (and is spending time looking instead of being careful).
- Clutter: This is one of the most over-looked areas of preparing your home for sale. Decluttering may mean you need to move some big furniture items into storage while your house is being viewed. But it may mean simply putting some things away that you are used to have out in plain view. Look at your kitchen countertops—can you clean them up? Make absolutely sure there are no stacks of old newspapers or magazines sitting around the house. Many realtors even advise clients to put away personal pictures and trinkets that may keep sellers from visualizing their own items in the home.
Don’t overlook closets. Make sure they are neat, clean and
- Fireplace: If you have a fireplace or woodstove, you may be wise to have it professionally cleaned and inspected. The buyer will most likely request it anyhow. Getting it done in advance impresses the buyer and makes the home appear cleaner and fresher smelling.
- Cleaning: Even though you may consider your house clean and tidy, a thorough cleaning--including dusting, washing, and waxing everything--will always make a house more appealing. Let it shine!
A little thought and elbow grease can often make the difference in whether or not you get an offer. Spend some time preparing your house to be sold.