“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step.” – Lao Tzu
It’s the little things as well as the big things that count when you are selling your home. You never know what will capture a buyer’s fancy and what will turn them off. Most buyers predictably respond to the same things – clean, clutter-free homes in good repair. Your agent may have already suggested that you paint the house, or that you do some major repairs. Those are big-ticket items, but what can you do on a small-scale to get your home ready to compete on the market?
There are a few time-honored tricks you can use to make sure your buyer sees what you want them to see, and overlook what you want them to overlook. Keeping your home in tip-top shape for showings will insure that your buyer will offer a higher amount than for a home that isn’t showtime-ready.
Always look at a home from the buyer’s perspective. Be objective and honest with yourself. If something bothers you about your home, chances are good it will bother the buyer, too. Do what you can to get rid of the problem. You want to keep objections about your home to a minimum. Preparing a home for market means you’ll be putting some elbow grease into it, so get ready.
1. Have a garage sale before the home is listed. Get rid of clutter so that the buyer can really see your home. Clean out what you think you won’t need in your next home. Pack away all that you can. Home buyers will expect you to be preparing to move, so a few packing boxes here and there can be used to your advantage. They could be a good visual stimulant to someone who is “on the fence;” they show that you are moving and are serious about finding a buyer. Be sure, though, to find the fine line between clutter and emptiness.
2. Welcome the buyer at the entry. Put out a new doormat, but avoid mats with cutesy sayings. Clean and polish the brass door knocker. Put potted flowers on the porch. Make sure the front entry floor is always sparkling clean and the porch and steps are always swept. First impressions count.
3. Stimulate the buyer’s imagination by setting the stage. Set the dinner table with your best china. Use the coziness and romance of the fireplace to advantage. Put a pair of wine glasses and a vase of flowers on the coffee table in front of the fire.
4. Be ruthless about odors. If there is a smell, your house won’t sell. Use cleansers of all kinds to make the home smell fresh, from carpet freshener to potpourri. Deodorize cat litter and scoop litter daily. Put cedar chips inside the closets. Be careful with room sprays, they could stimulate allergies. Use the sense of smell to your advantage by having fresh-baked cookies on the kitchen table.
5. Create a spacious feeling. Make sure that all doors, cabinets and drawers open all the way without bumping into anything or sticking. Clean out the entry closet and put only a few hangers so that the buyer can visualize winter coats. Move oversized furniture to a storage facility. Make sure entrances to all rooms have an open flow.
6. Make the most of views. Disguise unsightly views. Put a screen or a basket of flowers in front of a fireplace if not in use. Let the breezes move your sheer curtains at the window. Make sure the interior is visible from the street. All windows must be crystal clean and clear.
7. Create counter space. Store away extra appliances. Put away dish racks, soap dishes and other clutter. Decrease kitchen clutter further by removing magnets from refrigerator.
8. Avoid eccentric decor. De-personalize your teenager’s room, the gameroom or other areas by removing wild posters or any decorative item that could be construed as offensive. Remove hanging beads in doorways, your children’s jars with spiders or bugs, and anything which won’t appeal to the masses.
9. Increase the wattage in light bulbs in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms. For showings, turn on lights in every room.
10. Put photos of the family enjoying your home in at least three different places.
Now step back. Stand outside the front door, as much as 30 feet away and evaluate the feeling you get. Is the house warm and inviting? Does it feel like home?
Then perhaps it will to your buyer, too.