Tips and Tricks
Getting Your House Ready
A house that "sparkles" on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well-maintained.
A "well-polished" house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is maintained, what they can't see has probably also been maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:
- how much should you spend
- exterior and curb appeal
- preparing the interior
How much should you spend
In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren't likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive "polishes" and "touch-ups" to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen. Your REALTOR®, who is familiar with buyers' expectations in your neighborhood, can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made. Don't hesitate to ask for advice.
Maximizing exterior and curb appeal
Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal. Tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal:
- Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.
- Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly.
- Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.
- Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.
- Clean and align gutters.
- Inspect and clean the chimney.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
- In Northern winters, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
- During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
- Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
- Keep your garage door closed.
- Store RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
Maximizing interior appeal
Enhance your home’s interior by:
- Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning, as well as removing all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms have actually rented storage garages and moved half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
- Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market. This may be a good investment for owners who are busy elsewhere.
- Removing the less frequently used, even daily used items from kitchen counters, closets, and attics, making these areas much more inviting. Since you're anticipating a move anyhow, holding a garage sale at this point is a great idea.
- If necessary, repainting dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
- Checking for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement.
- Repairing cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
- Replacing broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings, and other woodwork. Inspecting and repairing the plumbing, heating , cooling, and alarm systems.
- Repairing dripping faucets and showerheads. Buying showy new towels for the bathroom, to be brought out only when prospective buyers are on the way.
- Sprucing up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by investing in new cabinet knobs, new curtains, or a coat of neutral paint.
One of the hardest parts of selling your home is preparing the property for viewing. In the real estate industry, preparing your home for sale is called ‘staging’, and it is a practice that every serious seller follows because it makes the property as appealing as possible, so that buyers will imagine themselves living in it. If you stage your home well, it often decreases the time in takes to sell and increases your selling price.
Easy Improvements to Make Your Home More Appealing
Some people like to invest money in their home in order to make it more appealing. There are some home improvements that do make financial sense, but for the most part, you are better off sticking to small, simple and inexpensive improvements.
Start by de-cluttering the house. Put as much stuff as possible in storage. If you have any large, imposing antiques, religious paraphernalia or clearly sentimental keepsakes that mean a lot to you but would be meaningless to others, put them away. Transform your house into a blank slate rather than a home that you clearly live in.
If you have pets, ask if a friend or family member will look after them for a while. Vacuum daily to remove lingering odors or stray pet hairs, and always have your pets out of the house for showing. These things might just put off someone who has allergies or is not a pet owner themselves and could cost you a potential buyer.
Whether or not you need to redecorate as a part of preparing your home for sale depends on what your property looks like at the moment. If you have any unusual decor – themed wallpaper or very bright colored paint for example, then you might want to get rid of it and paint the walls a more neutral color instead.
Other quick and easy fixes that make your home more appealing to prospective buyers include resurfacing the bathtub/shower and sink and kitchen counter tops, as well as replacing handles and taps with more modern looking ones. The bathroom and kitchen are two of the most important rooms in the house, and these are small improvements that do not cost a lot, are quick to do and have a significant impact on the appeal of your home.
Don’t forget about increasing your curb appeal. The outside of your property is the first thing a prospective buyer sees, and they are likely to make a snap decision before even stepping inside. If they decide they don’t like the look of your home because the garden is overgrown, this will affect how they think when they view the rest of the property, and they may make excuses about whether or not they actually want to buy it.
Trim your hedges and mow your lawn. Fix your fences, and repaint your doors. Make sure all windows are clean and that the front of the house looks perfect and is well lit with working bulbs. Clear your gutters and make sure they are securely attached to the walls. These are all simple changes that will make a difference.
Spend a few weekends getting your house in perfect viewing shape before you list it, and make sure that it is ready to view at a moment’s notice. It may be frustrating trying to live in a house without really ‘living there’ and hiding personal items to make your home look like a show home, but it really is worth it. Taking these steps will make the sales process go much more quickly and ensure that you get the best offers too.