Please keep in mind this is no longer your home, but a house you are trying to sell. You want to sell the house in the shortest possible time for the highest possible price, right? Of course that is every seller’s goal and it’s my goal for you as well. So here’s a handy checklist for home sellers you need to review to make that happen. It may seem overwhelming to some, but remember the payoff can be in the thousands of dollars.
Follow the 50% rule.
Look at every flat surface in your house and take at least 50% of the items away. This goes for kitchen and bathroom counters, desktops, bookshelves and dressers. Maybe you do use that blender/toaster/coffeemaker/radio every day, but for now, keep it out of sight and get it out only when you need it.
50% your closets too.
If stuff tumbles to the floor every time you open a closet or a cupboard, you won’t impress your buyers. An overstuffed closet tells a buyer that you don’t have enough storage space. So get out the packing boxes, pretend you’re moving next week, and streamline every space. The buyer needs to know there’s plenty of room for his (or her) stuff.
Don’t forget the furniture.
While you want the house to look functional and show the possibilities you still need to make all areas look larger. To do this by removing some bulky furniture like chest of draws and bookshelves. Consider taking some chairs along with the leaf out of the table to storage. You don’t have to get rid of everything, just keep in mind you don’t need accent tables and display cases of creepy dolls. Try to keep the windows unblocked, not only to keep it from looking cluttered, but to brighten up the place. The potential buyer does not need to think their furniture won’t fit and consider the extra money they would have to spend of new stuff.
Home Sellers can’t get personal.
When a buyer walks through the front door, you want her to imagine herself living in your house. This won’t happen if the walls are covered with family pictures and the refrigerator door is decorated with childlike Picassos. Add these items to your packing list. Let the buyer see a clean slate, ready for her to add her own personal touches.
Walk through your home after dark and on a cloudy day. Does it look bright, cheerful, and welcoming? Start by getting some brighter light bulbs to shed some light on those dark corners. Make sure there are no burned out bulbs anywhere and the light fixtures are clean. Check the porch lights and outdoor lighting as well. PS, remove the dead bugs.
Show me the money.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck by investing money in your kitchen and bathrooms. So whatever you have to spend on a pre-sale facelift, that’s where your money should go. If your bathroom vanities look shabby and dated, a couple coats of semi-gloss enamel in one of today’s “in” colors is a great place to start. Add some drawer pulls to kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Replace faucets with brushed nickel or bronze. New stainless steel appliances in the kitchen will give it a real “wow” factor.
Do some painting.
As part of your face lift plan, painting the interior walls is a great investment. Ceilings should be white because it makes the rooms seem larger. But keep white paint off your walls and go with a warm neutral (pale yellow, rosy beige or taupe) instead. Stark white walls are cold. Even if your home is very contemporary, you still want to reflect a degree of warmth and coziness.
Check for hidden problems.
Put yourself in the place of a potential buyer. Go outside by the curb and walk through the front door. Often it’s the things you can’t see that will trip you up. So keep an eye out for problems that aren’t immediately obvious. For example, if the storage space under your stairs smells musty, air it out and add some room freshener. Make sure there are no signs of mold or mildew anywhere. Look around the baseboards and the outside of your home as well for signs of termites or other pests. Make sure there are no dripping faucets or leaks under the sink. And check to see that your smoke detectors are working.
Speaking of Curbs.
What is the first image a potential buyer sees on the internet or driving by?If the outside of the house doesn’t look good, then no matter how clean and updated the inside is, they will pass you up for the house down the block. The yard, windows, gutters, walkways, etc., should all be in good condition. The lawn should be clutter-free too. If you have to paint, remember the rule of three – don’t use any more than three colors on your home’s exterior – one for the siding, one for the shutters and one for the front door.
Add the unexpected touch.
When you’re ready for that first open house, make sure you appeal to ALL the buyer’s senses. Put out some fresh flowers or plants. (Hint: orchids are not expensive and they last a long time.) Avoid candles, which could create a fire hazard. Instead, use essential oils with scents that create a mood. Lavender is relaxing, rosemary is stimulating, and jasmine elevates the mood. Citrus scents are always fresh and clean. Of course if you want to pull out all the stops, bake some chocolate chip cookies and leave them on the counter. But please, no onions or fish smells left over from last night’s dinner and overflowing trashcans.
This is a checklist for home sellers I have put together, but there are always more details to consider. Homes do not sell themselves. It takes planning and effort on your part, 7 Reasons Why You Need A Realtor to Sell Your Home, to turn your property into a showplace. The payoff is the look on that prospective buyer’s face that says, “I want this one!”