Preparing Your Home for Sale
By Ted Ricasa
VIDEO: Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell
Whether you are entrusting the sale of your home to a real estate agent or handling it on your own, you will almost certainly have a lot of work ahead of you. Unless you put some elbow grease into sprucing your property up and making sure your house is clean and ready to be moved into, it may be sitting on the market for much longer than you would prefer. Then when you do sell your home, you may discover that you would have actually saved time and money by simply selling the home "as-is."
Here are a few of the important considerations you will have to bear in mind as you prepare your home for sale:
Maximize Your Home's Curb Appeal
Maximizing your home's curb appeal will help to ensure that prospective buyers go into your home already feeling positive about its possibilities. It is far easier to maintain a positive first impression than to change one that is negative.
What can you do to maximize your home's curb appeal? First, you need to look at your home as objectively as you possibly can. It's a good idea to get the opinions of people with no emotional investment in the home; a flaw that you might have become accustomed to over the years may stand out clearly to someone who is more detached.
Among the exterior elements of your house that may require improvement are:
- Paint: If your exterior paint is chipped, blistering, peeling, or otherwise damaged, you should repaint. If removal of the old paint is necessary, be sure that you choose a method that won't cause damage to the house. Even if repainting seems unnecessary, a fresh coat could make your home look newer and cleaner. When trying to improve curb appeal, "good enough" is generally not good enough.
- Lawn, trees, and shrubbery: Make sure that your lawn is freshly mowed and that your tree, shrubs, bushes, and other plant life are neatly manicured.
- Moldings, trim, and shutters: Don't assume that your prospective buyers will see a broken shutter, for example, as a small thing. When the ornamental touches that lend a home personality are damaged, even a house that is in basically good shape can come off as a fixer-upper.
- Porch, driveway, walkway, and yard: Make sure that there is no aesthetically displeasing clutter on your porch in your yard. Put your trash cans out of view, rake up any stray leaves, and clear your driveway and walkway of any obstacles.
- The roof: Prospective buyers will almost certainly be scared off by a roof that shows any signs of damage. Even if the damage is purely cosmetic, as in the case of an asphalt shingle that has lost some of its grains or an aluminum roof that has become slightly dented, it can raise fears of underlying structural damage.
Clean and Fix Everything inside the Home
A little dust on the end table…a crack in the bathroom mirror…a missing cover for an electrical outlet…these are just signs that a house has been lived-in, right? Your prospective buyers may not see it that way. What might seem like a minor issue to you could be deal-breakers to them. From re-caulking the tub and applying some WD-40 to those squeaky bedroom door hinges to fixing broken appliances and repairing cracked walls, you'll want every nook and cranny of your home to be in optimal shape.
The goal is to make your home as "move-in-ready" as possible. The less scrubbing, patching up, and tidying your prospective buyers have to do, the more likely they are to make you a reasonable offer.
Stage Your Home
While you want your home to be as clean and tidy as possible, you don't want it to look as though no one has actually lived in it. In fact, you want to make it easy for prospective buyers to visualize themselves eating, sleeping, watching TV, and enjoying their lives in your home. Stage each room so that it takes on a personality of its own - don't go overboard so that things look cluttered, but carefully arrange a few careful reminders that this is a living space. For example, you can:
- Set your dining room table, complete with glasses, silverware, and a centerpiece
- Place a dish of potpourri in the bathroom
- Decorate the walls with tasteful artwork and wall-hangings
- Have an open book sitting on the nightstand
- Strategically place accessories - vases and small woodcarvings, for instance, rather than souvenirs and knick-knacks - on coffee tables, shelves, and other furnishings
- Apply fresh off-white paint to walls and cabinets
- Have a board game sitting out in one of the bedrooms
The goal of staging should be to accentuate the best features of your house. Be conservative in your staging; remember that clutter is your enemy when you're trying to convince someone to buy your home. Likewise, remember that dust, dirt, and grime are not part of the story you're trying to tell in your staging. If clutter is your enemy, then vacuuming, polishing, scrubbing, and freshening are your best friends.
Make Sure to Eliminate Potentially Offensive Odors
It can be easy to focus on the appearance of your home to the exclusion of all else, but keep in mind that a person's sense of smell can also have a strong influence over his or her purchasing decisions. Open up your home and let some fresh air in, and do whatever is necessary to eliminate odors. If your house smells even faintly of pets, food, or smoke, prospective buyers could be put off - and may even start scrutinizing your rugs and fixtures for evidence of stains and wear.
Encourage and Truly Listen to Criticism
No one likes to be told that his or her house has some unappealing elements, but the more constructive criticism you receive - from prospective buyers, neighbors, agents, and other people who are more impartial than you could possibly be - and actually act on, the easier it will be to get your home in sellable shape.
Leave Some Desirable Items Behind
If you truly want to distinguish your house from others on the market, consider leaving some of your more valuable (but replaceable) items behind. A brand-new dining room set or plasma screen TV could motivate buyers who are on the fence to seal the deal.
Whatever priorities you have set for selling your home, we invite you to contact the real estate experts of Fast Home Help if you have any questions, require any guidance, or decide you would prefer to sell your home as-is for cash.
Can we help?: Request a cash offer for your home