Before you place your home on the market, you want to get it ready for visits from potential home buyers. This process doesn’t have to be labor intensive if you don’t have the time do it yourself. Consider hiring people to do things that makes sense for someone else to handle. A cleaning company, painters, and landscapers could be worth the cost when it comes down to lessening the stress on your busy schedule. Of course, some things can be handled on a household clean-up weekend where everyone is involved in the process. Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing your home to sell.
Place your home on the market with confidence in first impressions by making sure your property is appealing. Your goal is to make the outside of our home so beautiful and inviting that potential home buyers can’t wait to see what’s inside. Doing this takes a bit of time but, in most cases, it won’t cost you a lot of money.
Start by walking your property to check for uneven ground, holes, and insect problems. The last thing you want is to have someone touring your property and twist an ankle. Take care of those issues right from the start. Pay attention to your lawn and make sure that it’s kept tidy during the time your home is being shown to buyers. Weed flower beds and freshen the bedding. Consider adding new, colorful flowers, if the season permits.
Having a few decorative items in your yard or flower beds can be cute but be careful not to overdo it with the lawn décor. Put extra decorative items, riding toys, and tools in an out-of-sight location. You may be used to seeing toys tossed about the yard, but that could be a turn off to a potential buyer. If you have pets outside, take special care to ensure their area is clean and free of offensive odors.
Check sidewalks and driveways for cracks that may need to be repaired. If you have stains, you may want to do a bit of power washing. Speaking of power washing, it’s a good idea to clean the bricks or siding, windows, and gutters before people begin dropping by to check things out. Consider painting your front door a bright and welcoming color. Add a colorful potted plant near the entrance for an added touch of warmth.
For outside entertainment areas, you’ll want to highlight the benefits by placing furniture in conversational settings. If you have a pool, make sure it’s clean and well lit. Don’t forget to clean outdoor cooking areas, grills, play equipment, and picnic tables.
Repair & Replace
Now that everything outside is in good order, take a walk around the inside of your home. Look for things that may escape your attention in usual day-to-day walk throughs. A brightly lit home looks warm and welcoming. Check and replace dim bulbs in lamps and light fixtures. If you don’t plan to paint the walls and doors, check for cracks and scuff marks that need to be repaired or cleaned.
Other places to check for repair needs are staircase steps or rails, doors that don’t close properly, drawers that don’t slide smoothly, and missing tiles in bathrooms. Carpets in busy areas and worn flooring in kitchens and bathrooms may need to be replaced. If in doubt, check with your real estate agent to get their thoughts on the impact the current state of the carpet may have on the value and sale of your home.
You may want to have someone come out to do a maintenance check on heating and cooling systems. Having these in good working order can save you time when it come to inspections that will happen later. Check all appliances that you plan to sell with the home. Include dishwashers, garbage disposals, and sprinkler systems in your repair checks.
Reduce & Declutter
You’ve repaired or replaced anything that needed your attention. If you’re like most people, you’ve accumulated much in the amount of time you’ve lived in your home. Just thinking about packed closets, attics, basements, and garages can make your head swim, but if you plan and tackle one area at a time, you’ll be done in no time!
Depending on your household, you may be able to do this in one day. If not, you can space it out to be completed as you have time in your schedule. It’s a good idea to have a central location in your home for packing items that will be needed. In that spot, have a see-through container that holds scissors, markers, packing tape, clear tape, string, and anything else you may need. Visit a storage or packing facility to secure boxes. Designate an area that will temporarily house any packed boxes.
Start by removing larger items that no longer serve your household. Items may include old toys, sports equipment, exercise equipment, countertop appliances, and holiday décor. Go through closets and remove older clothing or clothing that no longer fits. Place these in a special place for donating later.
Organize Closets & Cabinets
You may not think about it beforehand, but potential home buyers will be looking at your home with an attention to details. They will be looking through drawers, closets, cabinets, and pantries. For this reason, you’ll want everything to be cleaned and organized.
Start with your kitchen pantry and cabinets. Organize food items by size and use. There’s nothing more impressive than a well-organized spice cabinet or pantry. Taking the time to make sure all cans are facing outward may seem a bit silly, but it can create a lasting impression with buyers that you maintain your home and take care of things.
Similarly, when cleaning and organizing closets, place clothing in order according to color, style, and use. Place shoes on shelves or neatly on a shoe holder. There should be nothing on the floors of your closets. The open space is appealing because it makes the closets look bigger. Consider packing clothing that you know will not be used while your home is being shown. The benefit of doing this now is that you’ll be prepared ahead of time when it comes time to move.
Remove Valuables & Items
Consider purchasing two lockboxes. Use the first one to secure medications and important paperwork. Use the second one to keep your valuable jewelry or small collection pieces in during the time your home is listed. If you have a collection of weapons, you’ll want to store these safely.
If it’s practical, you may want to remove appliances and furnishings that you don’t plan to sell with the property. If you’re using rental furniture and appliances for staging purposes, this can save you time. If you choose to let the items remain in place, make sure that potential buyers understand that these items are not included in the price of the home. Your real estate agent will likely handle this for you.
People who visit your home want to see themselves living in that space. For this reason, you’ll want to remove all items that give the home your personality. Start with removing family photographs, certificates, and memorabilia from vacations. If needed, replace them with generic images that will appeal to a broad range of buyers.
You’ll want to do the same thing when it comes to décor. While you may be fond of your huge collection of gnomes from around the world, a potential home buyer may not feel the same way. Pack your collections away safely and use neutral pieces where needed. Keep in mind that you don’t need to fill all the shelves and bookcases with items. Open space of shelves gives the room an open and airy feeling that can be inviting.
Paint Doors & Walls
Now that you’ve removed clutter and organized closets, it’s time to paint any walls and doors that need attention. Before you begin, take care to choose paint colors that are neutral and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. If you have rooms with themed or bright colored walls, consider painting them. Your daughter may adore her hot pink walls with the unicorn border, but this type of theme may turn off people who are not interested in such things. Spending a little time and money to re-paint the walls may pay off with greater interest from buyers.
We mentioned painting the front door a bright and inviting color. Consider doing this with any other doors that grant access to the home. While you’re painting inner doors, check the hardware to make sure it’s clean and working properly. Check windows, as well, to see if they need a fresh coat of paint on the trim. Don’t neglect baseboards when cleaning and painting.
Rearrange Furniture & Rooms
If you’ve turned a spare bedroom into an exercise room or office, you may want to turn it back into a bedroom for the time your home is being shown. People want to see rooms being used as they are meant to be used. You don’t have to fully decorate the room to make it appealing. A bed with an end table and a dresser will do nicely when turning the space back into a bedroom. If you don’t own these items, you can rent them for staging purposes.
Remove any oversized furniture pieces from living rooms and dens. Remember, you want to maximize the space of the room. Place furniture in conversational settings that are away from walls. If you have a large table in an eat-in kitchen, replace it with a smaller table that sits on a rug. This type of setting creates a space that is visually appealing and creates the impression that the room is larger than it may be.
Even if you have a weekly cleaning schedule that keeps things tidy, you may want to schedule a deep cleaning. This deep cleaning will catch things that you may miss with day-to-day cleaning. In the kitchen, clean above cabinets, under cabinets, and in the space between appliances and other surfaces.
In the bathrooms, clean tile, grout, and shower enclosure hardware. Other items that may miss regular cleanings include light fixtures, baseboards, windows, door frames, under appliances, and exhaust fans.
Keep cleaning wipes on hand to do quick touchups during the time your home is having open houses and showings. Create a quick-clean routine for your household that puts everyone in motion for a certain amount of time each day or on the weekends. If you have pets, you may want to secure them in a safe place when visits are happening. Planning ahead for this will keep your pet from being stressed.