How to prepare your home for sale
You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property.
Make your home anonymous
The reason you want to make your home “anonymous” is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home. When a potential home buyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their illusions about living in the house themselves. Put away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit. Do not just put the box in the attic, basement, garage or a closet. Part of preparing a house for sale is to remove “clutter,” and that is the next step in preparing your house for sale.
Unclutter the house
After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. You want as much open clear space as possible, so every extra little thing needs to be cleared away. Take a step back and pretend you are the buyer. Minimal, clean lines will make even the smallest room seem more spacious.
Take care of all those small maintenance items. Buyers will flick light switches, they open everything with a handle and will turn on all the faucets and flush all the toilets. Having nice shiny fixtures makes an impression. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers. Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain.
Check all the ceilings for water stains, whether the leak is caused by plumbing or a faulty roof. Find the leak and repair it and make sure a proper job is done. Nothing irritates a buyer more than finding out – after the fact – about plumbing or roofing leaks. If a water stain is left after something you have already repaired, do the cosmetic work necessary to improve the desirability of your home. That means painting. You may have to paint anyway, especially if dirt has accumulated in spots or you have an outdated color scheme. Painting makes a home look fresh and new on the inside and never fails to impress. Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. You should almost always choose an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in a fairly neutral color. Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on anything.
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. Make sure there are no cracked or broken window panes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home. Do the same things with the doors – make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned and polished to look sharp.
The Exterior of the house
A buyers first impression is based on his or her view of the house from the street. They call that first impression “curb appeal.” So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares. Then it may be time to go to work.
Is your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not, buy a few bushes and plant them. If you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant them. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression. Do not buy bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will not mature fast enough to create the desired effect and you certainly don’t want a patch of brown earth for buyers to view. Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential buyers. As for the roof, if you know your roof leaks, repair it. If you do not repair a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it and the buyer may ask for more than just a repair.
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially in newer homes where the yards are not as large.
The front door should be in tip top shape, since it is the entryway into the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done. Get a new plush door mat, too.