Buying a home is often an emotional decision, but as a seller you must remove emotion from your equation! Your house is a commodity, and buyers have many choices in the market today. Your goal as a seller is to get prospective buyers to see their home, not yours. If you don’t consciously make this a priority, you can be setting yourself up for failure in the sale of your house.
Make your home “anonymous”
Think about the last model home you toured. There may be personality, but there is no person! Put away family photos, trophies, souvenirs and nick-knacks from the last family vacation. Your family photo hanging on the wall can momentarily shatter a prospective buyer’s illusions of living in the house.
After years in the same home, many owners collect treasures that may not even be apparent to the homeowner because they become used to seeing the same items in the same place daily. You need as much clear and open space as possible throughout the house. Aunt Bessie’s prized spoon collection that spans an entire bookshelf is not going to help you sell your house.
Get rid of everything. Yes, I said EVERYTHING! Find a cabinet or drawer for every item on the counter tops. No space in your cabinets for everything you say? Clean them out. Are there dishes, pans and crock pots that are rarely used? Box them up and put them in storage to make room for the items you use regularly. Do you have a junk drawer? Get rid of the junk! Do you have lots of extra cans and boxes stuffed into the pantry? Begin using those items. Do you really want to move (or pay a mover to move) 9 cans of diced tomatoes to your next home? Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible. If there is any damage or discoloration, be sure that you don’t have an active leak and scrub the area spotless and repaint if necessary. If your kitchen and pantry are stuffed if sends a negative message to prospective buyers for your house. Your goal is to create an image of plentiful storage space in the kitchen and throughout the house.
You might not see 37 somewhat folded towels in your linen close as clutter, but a buyer will! Does your master closet have dozens of shoes that you rarely wear? Do without those items for a couple of months, box them up, and put them into storage until you move. Remember the idea is to create the image of lots of extra space for prospective buyers. If every inch of closets throughout your house are jammed full of things you forgot were even there, it is definitely time to move them out.
Having too much furniture in a room is a common problem. Tour a local model home to see how they have furniture placed in the rooms. Move unnecessary pieces into storage.
Storage Area Cutter
Basements, garages and attics notoriously collect not only clutter but down right junk! A buyer needs to see the potential of every space, and junk can prevent the potential of a great space from ever being seen. This can cost you money or even worse- the sale altogether. Remove everything that isn’t essential and take it to storage.
Repairs and Remodels
In most cases you should not do anything really expensive to get your home ready for sale. Don’t go charging up credit cards or taking out loans because you will need to preserve your budget so you can be prepared to buy your next home. Don’t do anything that will negatively affect your credit scores or hurt your qualification for a new mortgage.
Buyers who visit a home will flick light switches, turn on and off faucets, flush toilets, open and close everything! Make sure that if you have a leaky faucet, a toilet that doesn’t flush just right or a broken hinge, fix it! These simple things create a sense of deferred maintenance in a buyer’s mind.
Painting and Flooring
Should you or shouldn’t you? Are there water stains on ceilings? Make sure to repair the cause of the leak and then repaint. Little else hurts your chances with a prospective buyer more than signs of water damage and the image of future problems that it creates in a buyer’s mind.
If you have an outdated color palette or the paint is dingy, painting can the the best investment you can make when selling your home. It is inexpensive and often you can do it yourself. Be careful when choosing colors, and choose a palette that will appeal to the widest audience of potential buyers for your house. Check with your trusted local REALTOR or interior designer for suggestions. Generally you will want to choose an off-white neutral color to help the rooms appear spacious and bright.
When it comes to carpeting, many times a good cleaning is all that is needed. Unless your carpet is an outdated color or style or it is very old and worn, just clean it! If it does need to be replaced choose an inexpensive (but not too cheap!) carpet in a lighter neutral tone. If you have damaged tiles, repair those if possible. If the tile is no longer available and there are several obvious damaged areas, replacement may be a good idea. Check with your trusted local REALTOR or interior designer for more advice about your specific situation.
Walk across the street and take a look at your house. Does anything stand out to you? Are there overgrown bushes that need to be tamed? Is the siding and trim in desperate need of a paint job? Do you have rotten wood trim? Deferred exterior maintenance can be a huge turnoff for buyers, and it can cost you money in the sale. A house with significant deferred maintenance is going to appeal to the bargain buyers who will offer you less money for your home than a typical buyer. If you want to get top dollar for your home, it must appeal to the everyday “retail” home buyer. Freshen up painted surfaces, repair any damage, and spruce up the landscaping. You want to look appropriate for the neighborhood, but do not over improve. The grass should always be freshly cut and leaves should be raked for a crisp clean look.
The front door is the first impression a buyer will have of your house. Make sure it is freshly painted and it closes and locks freely without “sticking”. If the person showing your home has difficulty opening the door it creates a negative first impression while everyone is standing around waiting to get inside.