Properly preparing your home to sell may seem like a daunting task but don’t get overwhelmed. Here is a budget-friendly guide that focuses on important almost-free tasks that will help you get your home ready for buyers.
Before we begin, lets take a moment to consider buying a used car. You may be wondering why I would begin here but stay with me. You look at several vehicles and come across one that has lower mileage than the rest. When you meet up with the guy to look the car over you notice that the car has mud caked on the tires and you don’t want to brush against it because you will get black streaks all over your clothing. Upon further inspection you see stale french fries in the floorboard, thick dust on the dashboard, a sticky residue on the steering wheel, and you can’t get past the foul odor. You are immediately turned off by this vehicle even though it is priced a little lower than the other vehicles you have looked at. You move on to the cleaner, well-kept vehicle even though it has a little more miles on it and costs slightly more.
So here’s the point. If you were going to sell your car and wanted to get top dollar for it, you would wash, vacuum, shampoo the carpets, and empty out all of the trash. In fact, you will discover things that you have probably grown used to but realize are disgusting as you are cleaning. All of these things take a little time but you know it is worth your time. The same is true when preparing your house to sell. Just keep thinking about the car I described above as we work our way through this list.
DECLUTTER – Think about that used vehicle and picture files and papers all in the back seat and a trunk full of moving boxes and you just tell the potential buyer that you will get all that out of there when you sell it. The fact is, the potential buyer will be so distracted by your stuff that they will move on to the next vehicle and overlook the otherwise best features of yours. The same goes for a house. Yes, you may live in it but too much stuff and clutter makes your house feel smaller than it is and can be a huge distraction to buyers, causing them to feel stressed. Now is the time to pack things away that you are not using that are just taking up space. Remember that less is more. You want the best features of your house to stand out so don’t let too much stuff be a distraction. This also includes closets. Clearing out all out-of season clothing and shoes is a good place to start. Don’t forget the counter tops in your bathrooms and kitchen. Everyone is looking for good counter space. You want these areas to feel spacious not closed in.
DEEP CLEAN – To save money you can do this yourself or if you don’t have the time, hire a professional. Don’t neglect the ceiling fans, cobwebs in the corners, window blinds/shutters, oven, stove top, light fixtures, bathroom fans, windows, and light switches. Those light switches can get rather grimy and when we live in a house we tend to overlook things like that but believe me the potential buyers won’t miss it! Even if your house is vacant you should keep it clean. A clean house tells buyers that you have maintained and taken care of it. Keep your house clean while it is on the market. It is more challenging with small children and pets but you may need to require a longer notice for showings to allow you time to have it ready. Get rid of any funky smells. You may not even notice any odors because you live in it everyday but this is one of the first impressions that greet buyers as they open the door. Don’t try to mask odors by using perfumed plug-ins. For tips to get rid of odors click here.
CURB APPEAL – If you were looking at buying a used car you would be more drawn to the freshly washed and waxed one over the dirty, “what color is that ?” car. Clean up your landscaping and add fresh mulch. Paint or stain your front door if it looks weathered. Trim back bushes and don’t forget any tree limbs that are touching the roof. Keep your yard freshly mowed and edged while it is for sale. Clean leaves off of your roof and clean out gutters. This is a biggie that many people often forget. I’ve had several instances of looking at homes with a sapling growing out of a gutter. Power wash the driveway, sidewalk and any dirty siding. Repair any decking and replace rotting wood. Clean the exterior of your windows. This is one that many people forget to do! For more curb appeal tips on a budget, click here.
PAINT – Ok, so I know this one does cost money but it provides you with the biggest bang for your buck and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other upgrades. Dark colors close in a home so you want lighter neutral colors to attract the most buyers. New paint freshens up the appearance of a home. Walls get grubby and marked up over time so they need to be repainted. If your home hasn’t been painted in a while or if your colors are very dark or bold, I would highly recommend painting your home before you put it up for sale.
EVERYTHING ELSE – Doing all of the things mentioned above will have you well on your way to selling your home. Before doing any major upgrades or spending a lot of money on other areas of your home it is a good idea to talk with a realtor. A good, knowledgeable realtor who has worked with a lot of buyers will know the local market and know what buyers are looking for in a home. You don’t want to make costly upgrades that aren’t necessary. Also, certain upgrades that appeal to you may not appeal to the majority of potential buyers. Your realtor can help guide you through this process.