Now that you’ve made that all-important decision to sell your home, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to position it favorably in today’s real estate market. Working with your real estate agent on pricing and marketing is key, but also utilizing the skills of a licensed home staging professional to make your home look and show its best is equally important.
Just as you would want to detail your automobile before selling to make it look its best (and not to mention sell for the highest amount possible), so would you want to give your home the same kind of attention before putting it up for sale. The "buyers’ market" of today makes it even more important to take the up-front steps to ensure your home is ready to capture attention, ready to command favorable showings and ready to bring about desirable offers.
To help get you started, I’ve included a "get your house ready to sell" punch list. Many of the steps I’ve included seem to be good old-fashioned common sense - and they are... but sometimes even the most obvious and practical guidelines can be overlooked by the home seller. After all, we live in our homes and we’ve become quite comfortable there. Sometimes a punch list can jog our perceptions and open our eyes allowing us to see our homes a bit more objectively.
Be proactive and put yourself in the "driver’s seat" when it comes to selling your home. Take charge of the way your home looks (and feels) to potential buyers. Follow these steps and you will be able to give your home the edge it needs to command more and better showings and ultimately more and higher offers.
Get it READY. Get your home SET. and Watch your home SELL!
Now Here’s Your Punch list to Help Get Your Home Ready to Sell!
• Walk through the front door of your home. What do you see? Is it easy to open the door? Does it creek? Once the door is open, is it easy to enter the home or is there some obstruction? Too much furniture in the way? A coat rack too close to the doorway? A foyer table too large for the space? Check out all of these things. It is very likely that the buyer will want to access your home through the front door so make sure its easy ingress and that what you see is appealing and uncluttered.
• Clear all unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house. Keep decorative objects on the furniture restricted to groups of 1, 3, or 5 items. In general, a sparsely decorated home helps the buyer "mentally move in" with their own belongings. Dust or polish your furniture. If it’s scratched, use a scratch covering stain. If it’s dirty, have it cleaned or slipcovered. You want your furniture to "reflect up" to your home, not down.
• Rearrange or remove excessive furniture from your home. Far too often, homeowners have too much furniture which can detract from the beauty of the home. Also too much furniture can make rooms appear smaller. Remember you’re not in the business of selling furniture, your in the business of selling your home.
• Clear all unnecessary objects from the kitchen and that means small appliances which are not used frequently. Having too many small appliances on the countertops can make your counterspace appear smaller. (I recently showed a house which had nearly every available square inch of counterspace used up with small appliances, i.e.,
toaster, toaster oven, microwave, blender, coffeemaker, standmixer, food processor, wafflemaker, electric frypan, rice steamer, and on and on.) I’m sure all of these were not used regularly, so my advice would be take away the small appliances which are not used at least weekly. Also, don’t use countertops for too many decorative items, cookbooks etc.
• Remove any magnets, sticky notes, photos from the fronts and sides of your refrigerator. Keep your countertops clean and your oven, cooktop, refrigerator, and sinks spotless. If your cabinet fronts need cleaning, do so. Wipe them down with a mild cleaning solution and warm water. Same with kitchen floors to make them look their best and oh please remember, no dirty dishes in the sink!
• In the bathroom, remove any unnecessary items from the countertops, shower stall, bathtubs, etc. Place them out of the way in drawers, under the sink or in a closet. Keep your towels neat and clean. Make sure all of your bathrooms are clean and tidy. Windex mirrors, countertops and keep all fixturing, tubs, showers, commodes extra clean and sparkling. If you have scatter rugs, also make sure they are laundered and stain-free. Keep floors clean and that means around the commode too.
Review the house interior walls, windows, floors, room by room and:
1) Paint any room needing paint. If your walls are damaged and are in need of patching, do so before painting. Try to stick with neutral colors which appeal to a high percentage of buyers. Remember flat paint is more forgiving to minimize imperfections in your drywall, but may not be as easy to clean as eggshell or satin finishes.
2) Clean carpeting and floors as needed. If carpets are badly stained or retain pet odors, consider replacing them along with the padding.
3) Clean windows as needed throughout the house. This is one of the most overlooked details by home sellers yet can be considered so important by home buyers. If time or budget only affords some windows to be cleaned inside and out, choose the windows which are most important such as those which provide the best view to the outdoors and those which have pull up blinds or open draperies.
• If you need more room to store superfluous possessions in an attempt to minimize clutter, consider using the garage or an off-site storage facility. If you do choose the garage, make sure you store items neatly and in an organized manner.
• Make sure your home stays tidy and smelling good at all times. You never know when an agent may be calling to show your house. You want to be ready to show your home at all reasonable hours.
To improve the curb appeal of your home, consider the following steps to maximize your home’s exterior potential:
• Walk the perimeter of your home but start with the curb. That’s right - that’s why they call it "Curb Appeal". When a buyer pulls up to your home, what do they see? The best way to find out is to walk outside to your curb with a pad and pencil. Go ahead and be rather critical. That’s what buyers do. Pretend you’re one. Notice the yard, the mailbox, the driveway, the sidewalks, the front door and porch, the windows, the brick or siding, the roof and gutters, the landscaping and on and on.
• Write down what you like and what you don’t like. Then walk the rest of your property and see what needs your attention.
Let me give you a little help to get you started.
• Mailboxes should be upright (not leaning) and in good condition.
• Yard should be mowed and sidewalks edged. In the fall, leaves should be raked and contained. Sidewalks should be swept.
• Landscaping should be maintained. Shrubs and bushes should be pruned and kept in shape, flower beds should be deweeded and raked. Dead plants and/or shrubs, trees should be removed completely. Don’t leave any stumps! Bushes, plants, and trees should not block entrances or windows.
• Gutters should be clean and not looking clogged.
• Front entrance/porch should be swept and clean and free of cobwebs, leaves etc. Front entrance door should be clean and window sidelights also sparkling. If you have any outdoor furniture, also make sure it is in good condition and clean.
• Visible garbage cans should be kept in good condition and externally clean.
• Check the condition of the paint on your home, especially with the trim and the front door.
• Clean up patios and decks. They should be swept and free of clutter. The patios decks, and back yard should not have too many small planters, pots, charcoal, unclean barbeques, etc. Pick up children’s toys and bicycles from the yard as well.
Do your best to look at your home through the "buyer’s eyes". Be painfully honest with yourself and as objective as possible.
*Information Courtesy of StagePro Home Staging & Design, LLC