A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.
From experience, REALTORS® also know that 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 well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has probably also been well maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:
how much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
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.
How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?
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® is familiar with buyers’ expectations in your neighborhood and can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
Prepping and staging a house
Every seller wants her home to sell fast and bring top dollar. Does that sound good to you? Well, it’s not luck that makes that happen. It’s careful planning and knowing how to professionally spruce up your home that will send homebuyers scurrying for their checkbooks. Here is how to prep a house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.
Time Required: Seven to ten days
1. Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.
- Say to yourself, “This is not my home; it is a house — a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.
- Make the mental decision to “let go” of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
- Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!
- Say goodbye to every room.
- Don’t look backwards — look toward the future.
Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can’t see past personal artifacts, and you don’t want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there! You don’t want to make any buyer ask, “I wonder what kind of people live in this home?” You want buyers to say, “I can see myself living here.”
People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven’t used it in over a year, you probably don’t need it.
- If you don’t need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
- Remove all books from bookcases.
- Pack up those knickknacks.
- Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
- Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
- Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.
MAXIMIZING EXTERIOR AND CURB APPEAL
When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home’s exterior. If the outside, or “curb appeal” looks good, people will more than likely want to see what’s on the inside.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal to buyers:
- Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered.
- Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns and flowerbeds.
- Be sure your front door area has a “Welcome” feeling.
- Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
- Paint the front door.
- Wash windows inside and out.
- Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
- In spring and summer, add a couple of pots of showy annuals near your front entrance.
- In snowy areas, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
- Check foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and deterioration, and fix any problem areas.
- Remove and repaint any peeling paint on doors and windows.
- Clean and align gutters.
- Inspect and clean the chimney.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
- Reseal old asphalt.
- Keep the garage door closed.
- Store RVs and old cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
MAXIMIZING INTERIOR APPEAL
You want your home to look as spacious, bright and clean as possible. Also the home should look neutral – without a lot of your personal and sentimental objects – so buyers can begin to imagine living there.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s interior appeal to buyers:
- Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning and remove all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms actually rent storage garages and move half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
- Use a professional cleaning service every few weeks while the house is on the market.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Remove the less frequently used, and even daily-used items from kitchen counters, closets, basement and attic to make these areas more inviting.
- Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter.
- Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms: they should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free.
- Hang up fresh towels. Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.
- Repair dripping faucets and shower heads.
- Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
- Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Bleach dingy grout.
- Buy showy new towels for the bathroom, and put them out only for showings.
- Spruce up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by installing new curtains and cabinet knobs, or applying a fresh coat of neutral paint.
- Clean out the refrigerator.
- Clean walls and doors of smudges and scuff marks.
- Clean out cobwebs.
- If necessary, repaint 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.
- Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement, and fix any problem areas.
- Seal basement walls if there are any signs of dampness or leakage.
- Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles.
- Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
- Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.
4. Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.
Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:
- Alphabetize spice jars.
- Neatly stack dishes.
- Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.
- Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
- Line up shoes.
5. Rent a Storage Unit.
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don’t want buyers scratching their heads and saying, “What is this room used for?”
6. Remove/Replace Favorite Items.
If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer she can’t have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.
- Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
- Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
- Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
- Make sure window coverings hang level.
- Tune in to the room’s statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?
- Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You’re almost finished.
8. Check Curb Appeal.
If a buyer won’t get out of her agent’s car because she doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get her inside.
- Keep the sidewalks cleared.
- Mow the lawn.
- Paint faded window trim.
- Trim your bushes.
- Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
Information provided from an article on the worldwide web written by Elizabeth Weintraub.