So you’ve made the decision to sell your home. Now what?
It takes a lot of mental preparation to let go of a space you’ve grown to love, and the process of selling your home can be particularly strange if you are still living in it.
You have to keep your home clean and tidy at all times in order to quickly accommodate your realtor and potential buyers. "Don’t just clean – really clean," Jessica Crocker, a broker at Tucker's Georgian Home Realty, told Patch. "I mean, 'eat off the floor' clean!"
Here are some tips that will make your home more presentable to buyers, and also help you prepare to move into your new digs.
- Clear out clutter. If you haven’t touched it within the past year, toss it. You can also donate unwanted items to local charities if they’re too good to trash. Pack up things you plan to take with you and get them out of sight. If necessary, rent a nearby storage space. Crocker's advice: "Clean out closets and drawers and cabinets. If a buyer comes into a house that’s packed to the gills, you can bet that they’ll think the same thing will happen to them if they live there. If you’re moving anyway, why not go ahead and start getting rid of things or boxing things up before you list the house?"
- While you’re cleaning your home for viewers, pack up most of your personal photographs. They are distracting to potential buyers and this action will help them see the house as their potential home instead of yours.
- Keep your kitchen clean. That means flowers on your table, no dishes in the sink, no junk on the counters, and no finger smudges around cabinet handles. Pack up everything but the bare essentials from the cabinets so that they are tidy too. If a prospective buyer opens a kitchen cabinet and sees too much stuff, they will think the kitchen is cramped.
- Keep your closets tidy too. Packing little by little will make your final transition easier. Plus, buyers think a tidy homeowner has also taken good care of the place. Lining up shoes, and grouping shirts, pants and dresses together in the closet can also make a big impact.
- Sometimes the old adage “less is more” applies to furniture in your home. Move some things out if individual rooms are too crowded. It will make the rooms appear larger. "Find a spot in the garage or attic to start stacking boxes," said Crocker.
- If there are window treatments, light fixtures, appliances or other “attached” items you plan to take with you, remove them and replace them before showing your home so that the buyer won’t think they are included.
- Freshen up paint and make repairs to things such as torn screens, cracked tiles and rotting windowsills before the realtor even puts the sign up. If the realtor sees potential problems like these, he or she might not make showing your home a top priority. "Updates can be done that will make a difference and won’t break the bank," said Crocker. "A can of neutral paint, for example, will cost a seller about $20 and their Saturday afternoon."
- If your daughter’s room is pink, or your living room is painted a bold color, consider repainting it a more neutral color. Depersonalizing your home allows viewers to use their imaginations and visualize your home as their own. Don't let buyers walk away remembering your home as "the one with the orange bathroom."
- Lighting is everything, so make sure there are no burned out bulbs inside or outside your home, and make sure you have the most complimentary lighting on when your realtor brings over a client. Overhead lights show too many issues and flaws, but a soft lamp in a corner makes a room seem cozy. "Light fixtures can cost less than $50 but they can drastically change the way a room looks and feels – and they an be installed in just a few minutes by a homeowner," Crocker said.
- Make the beds, and make them nicely! Don’t just toss the pillows on - arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way.
- Make sure all mirrors, windows, porcelain, faucets and appliances are clean and sparkly!
- Dust and vacuum every single surface, including baseboards, ceiling fan blades, and carpet in the corners of stairs and rooms.
- Choose a fresh scent that doesn’t smell too much like bleach to clean tiles, tubs and toilets.
- Little touches like pulling down all window blinds to the same level and making your front entrance inviting set the tone for the way the rest of the house is viewed.
- Outside is as important as inside. Mow grass, trim bushes, and sweep away cobwebs, leaves and dog hair.
- Invest in a potted plant or two to put along your front steps. You won’t believe what a difference that little touch of curb appeal will make.
Last but not least, do a walk-through pretending you are a prospective buyer. Note the things that turn you off and fix them!
Some final words of wisdom from Crocker: "Most buyers today don’t want to do any work on a house. They just want to move right in and start living in it. Most importantly, though, is that a seller is realistic about price. If the house isn’t priced right, nobody will come to look at how great it looks on the inside. If it’s priced right, they will come and they will buy."