This is the advice that we give to all Sellers preparing to place their home on the market.
When potential Buyers walk through your front door, the answer to the question "Am I going to place an offer here?" needs to be YES.
How do you get there? Follow these 5 easy steps below to get your home ready for the market.
Step 1: Starting on the Inside: Clean Everything!
When we say everything, we mean EVERYTHING. Start with a general clean. By this we mean to wipe down all of the baseboards, clean any smudges that are on the paint, get your carpets cleaned, clean your kitchen and bathrooms thoroughly. The reason you're going to want to do this is because it will show you what needs to be re-painted, re-grouted, or re-placed.
For example, there may be smudges on your walls that won't come out. Repainting your walls is an awesome way to make your house look and feel like new.
When cleaning your home, take an assessment of potential items that may need to be repaired. For example, under your kitchen sink, is the wood warped from water damage? Are there any other signs of damage past normal wear and tear?
You may not think that those small items are a big deal but when you're dealing with Buyers, they will point out even the smallest of items, especially if they are cosmetic.
There's something to remember here, most of the Buyers that will come see your home will be first-time Homebuyers meaning they are currently tenants. You have to think like a landlord and present the best possible product (your home) to make them want to place an offer.
Step 2: Painting and Repairs
Not everyone is thrilled about having to paint or make repairs to their home but it's something that needs to be discussed. If your home has dark colored walls, consider repainting them with a nice, light, neutral tan color. You need your home to be as neutral as possible so that potential Buyers can see themselves in your home and not become distracted by the dark purple color that your walls are painted.
Having lightly colored paint helps your rooms look brighter and bigger when the sun comes shining through your windows. If you've painted your home recently, then just a touch up will do but if you've been in your home for years without a drop of new paint on the walls, then consider taking the time to paint now. A freshly painted house can mean adding thousands to your bottom line.
Making repairs, even minor ones, can add to your bottom line as well. When making repairs, you need to ask yourself objectively, "if I were buying this home, would I want this item to be repaired?" If the answer is yes, then add the repair to your list. It's a general rule to focus on small cosmetic repairs and repairs to the systems of your home such as the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, etc - things that can come up during a home inspection.
Step 3: Start Packing
Living in your home while it's listed for sale is not easy especially when you have kids or a lot of stuff lying around. You are going to want to declutter your home by packing away items that you don't use on a regular basis.
For example, box up dishes, books, clothes, and documents that you don't use on a daily basis. Box them up and put them in a neat stack in your garage. If you do not have a garage or somewhere that these unused, boxed items can be stored, then you should consider getting a storage unit temporarily.
You wouldn't believe how many homes we've shown to Buyers where we've opened the kitchen cabinets and tupperware comes flying out. It's a distraction for the Buyer. Now instead of looking at how nice your home is, they are thinking about how much clutter is in your home and when they walk around your house, all they will see is your clutter and not the actual house which is the point of no return for most Buyers and the end of the showing.
If you have too many items in your kitchen cabinets, then you need to remove these items and leave only what your family actually uses on a daily basis. No one will comment on there only being 5 plates in a cabinet but they will comment if your cabinets are overflowing with items. It will make the Buyer think that there's not enough storage in the home. They need to see how much space is in your cabinets and the only way to do that is to remove unnecessary items that are not used on a regular basis.
The same thing goes for your closets. Closets overflowing with clothing is a distraction for Buyers. Besides that, do you want Buyers looking at all of your clothes? They will if your closets are full of them. Take the time to do some spring cleaning and get rid of items that you haven't worn in over a year. Only keep the essential items that you wear on a daily/weekly basis in your closets.
Step 4: Do Some Light Staging
Now more than ever Buyers are looking for open-concept floor plans. If you do not have that in your home then there's no reason that you can't create it with well placed furniture. By removing large bulky items from your home, it will make your home appear larger. If you don't have enough room in your house to spread out some of the furniture, then consider selling it or putting it in storage.
When staging your home, remove all of your personal family photos and take down any artwork that may be offensive in any way. Your home needs to look like a model home. Is your living room inviting? What about your dining room? Is the table too big, are the chairs in the way? How your home flows from room to room is important to today's Buyer.
Step 5: Focus on the Outside
When people drive up to your home, what will they see? Does your home have curb appeal? Are there patches of grass missing from your lawn? We talked a lot about the inside of your home, now is the time to focus on the outside of your home. Clean your yard and write down a list of items that need to be cleaned or repaired. For example, are there a lot of leaves on your roof or are your gutters full? These items needs to be addressed because Buyers are then going to focus on how many trees you have in your yard. Are your shutters hanging by a thread? Rehang anything that is trying to fall down. Does your home need a new coat of paint? While getting the outside of your home painted isn't cheap, it will add money to your bottom line and help your home sell quicker. Think about it. Buyers want to show off their new home as soon as they move in. They don't want to have to do things prior to showing off their new home so painting the outside is a killer way to get Buyers to say "Yes" to your home.