You’ve done it. You’ve finally decided to sell your home. Whether it took you years or you made a split decision – congrats – it’s never an easy choice. Maybe your kids are grown and it’s time to downgrade, maybe you’ve just started a family and it’s only going to grow so you need more space, maybe you’re ready for apartment living. Whatever the reason is – it’s time to get down to business! Here are the top ten tips for preparing your home for sale.
1) Cleaning. This is a given, but it doesn’t just mean cleaning the windows, wiping down the countertops and scrubbing the toilets. This also means that you need to get rid of the clutter! Your house may be great, but if it’s cluttered, it’s hard for some potential buyers to see past that enough to imagine their OWN lives in that house surrounded by THEIR own things!
2) Repaint. Yes, your dark red dining room is super sophisticated, the yellow sunroom is inviting and the understated leopard print wallpaper in the downstairs powder room is super chic, but get rid of it! All of it! When you’re preparing to sell your house, you need to make sure that your walls are neutral colors. This helps potential buyers to better see how they can fit their own belongings and furniture into your home. You may love your baby blue nursery, but what if a family with three daughters comes to tour your home? It’s best that as many things in the house are as neutral as they can be.
3) Smells. It may be a good idea to eat out the night before your house is being shown. Or, at least, don’t cook something super overpowering like curry or a heavy garlic dish in your kitchen. Smells linger! And you want your home to smell fresh and light when potential buyers walk in the door the next day. Candles are a good idea – but, as always, be careful! You may even want to consider baking fresh chocolate chip cookies for that “homey” smell, but be sure not to burn them. No one wants to enter their future home and see it full of smoke.
4) No personal items. Yes, it’s YOUR home (but not for long if the selling process goes smoothly) and you want to customize it to your style, your life and your family. However, when potential buyers come to look at your house, it’s hard for them to envision themselves in a living room full of YOUR family photos, or see their infants in a bedroom full of your college grad’s diplomas and awards. It’s best to go light on the family photos and trinkets so that the buyers can focus on the home, not the personalization of it.
5) Light. Lighting is everything! No matter how much someone likes to sleep in or how early they like to go to bed, people love a bright, open house with lots of natural light shining in! Open all your blinds, turn on those cute accent lamps and make sure nothing is in the dark. Remember, if you have energy-efficient CFL bulbs, you’ll want to turn those on about ten minutes before the potential buyers show up (or ask your agent to do so) as they take more time to warm up.
6) Bathroom. This is a deal breaker for a lot of people so make sure your bathroom is looking pristine! Turn it into an oasis by lighting a candle or turning on your oil diffuser, putting fresh flowers by the sink, folding big fluffy white towels near the tub and making sure you clear toiletry clutter from the counter tops. And please…close the toilet lid!
7) Get Out. One of the worst things you can do for the sale of the house is simply being present. When someone comes to tour your house, don’t be there! Make a plan to go on a jog, go out to lunch, head to the mall – anything! This can make potential home buyers feel very awkward when current owners linger to gauge their opinions. Make sure you ask your listing agent to give you plenty of time before potential buyers arrive so you have time to get out of there!
8) Curb Appeal. Don’t forget the outside! After all, the outside of our house is a buyer’s first impression. Make sure your lawn is cut, the weeds are pulled, the flower beds are freshly mulched and there is not any clutter or trash in the yard. If you have a problem with pesky pine needles and pine cones, pick them up! Speaking of outside…if you have pets, make sure they’re locked up in kennels or, even better, not there at all! Sometimes, pets in crates can be a distraction to people trying to tour a house.
9) Temperature. Make sure your home is set on a comfortable temperature! If it’s winter, consider having your fireplace going. If it’s summer, turn the fans on. You want potential buyers to feel comfortable – not freezing or sweating!
10) Call in a Professional. If worse comes to worse and you feel totally lost, call in the pros! There are tons of “staging” companies out there that can come to your home and “stage” it for a showing. They’ll show you where to place fresh flowers, how to arrange throw pillows and blankets, which lights to turn on, which pictures and art work to display and much more!