Thinking of putting your house on the market?. Once you have made the decision to sell (and enlisted the help of a highly competent agent, of course) you need to do everything possible to make your property stand-out and command the attention of buyers. Here are some tips on what to do and why:
- Remember, first impressions count, really count! The curb appeal of your house is critical. Your house must look tidy and well cared for. You want the potential buyers to be excited about coming inside! Make sure the grass is neat, the hedges are trimmed and any decaying limbs are pruned from trees. Plant fresh flowers to add color or enhance planters you have in the entry. This is the time to paint the trim, change the old mailbox, pressure wash the driveway and sidewalk, re-hang or replace shutters and paint the front door. If the door knob and lock are looking shabby they should be polished or replaced too. The entrance hallway should be welcoming. You can add a bench or decorate a table with fresh flowers.
- Before putting your house on the market make any minor repairs. All appliances, doors, windows, and drawers should be in good working order. This would be a very good time to have a home inspection and address any issues found by the inspector.
- Declutter and depersonalize your house (including the closets, bookshelves and walls). Buyers need to see themselves in the house, and the more of your personal effects they see, the more difficult this will be for them. Remember, you’re moving anyway so this is a great time to start packing.
- Organize and tidy up what is left. A good strategy is to sift through your belongings and pack up everything that’s not used regularly. For example, your closets shouldn’t be any more than 2/3 full, regardless of how small they are. You want a buyer to look at your closets and think that there is plenty of room for all of their belongings. The same goes for the garage. There should be room for cars in the garage! Box up and store all miscellaneous items. You might want to consider renting a storage unit or using a friend’s garage temporarily.
- Clear off counters, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Check the cabinet’s pulls and knobs. Clean counters will give the buyer the feeling that there is plenty of room for their daily activities.
- Clean, clean, clean (and keep cleaning). This is one of the most tedious aspects to selling a house, but it is very important that the house is clean and ready to show anytime. Look critically at the walls, windows, floors and carpet. As you’re in the process of removing furniture and pictures, the walls and floors will become more prominent. Now is a good time to clean the carpets and refinish the floors if necessary. Remember, these improvements are relatively inexpensive and the payoff can be very big. If you decide to paint, choose light, neutral colors. Lighter colors will give the buyers a feeling of spaciousness.
- Make sure that the entire house smells clean and fresh. Take out the trash, clean out the cat’s litter box, etc., before a showing. Avoid strong room deodorizers or heavy scented candles which can be overwhelming for some people.
- When a showing is scheduled, turn on all the lights (even in the middle of the day) and open curtains. Make sure everything is picked up, and then leave until the showing is over. Although it is tempting to be in the house to meet the potential buyer, DON’T!!! Buyers need to speak freely, and imagine themselves living in the house and this is impossible when they know you are there. Remove pets during a showing, especially dogs, no matter how friendly they are. If this is impossible, then the pets should be in a crate or behind a closed door. If the buyer is allergic to, or afraid of animals, they will not give the house their full attention.
- Your real estate agent should arrange to get feedback from the buyers or from their agent, please don’t ask the potential buyers to give you feedback directly. Use this feedback to make further adjustments.