8 Tips for Quicker Sale or 8 Things to remember before you list your house
A common mistake most homeowners make when they list their home for sale is listing it before it’s ready to be shown. Today’s home buyers are way savvier than those in the past. They have logged several hours researching on the internet and watching “House Hunters,” “Million Dollar Listing” and “Curb Appeal.” Image is everything! Don’t fool yourself. Your buyer is gonna show up with their list of must haves, high expectations and a tiger for a real estate agent.
So, what can you do to improve your chances that your home will appeal that persnickety buyer and sell for your maximum asking price? Well, it’s as simple as the “3 D’s” Downsize, Declutter, and Depersonalize. Think of your home as a product you’d like to sell. You want it to be something buyers are drawn to, love and can’t live without. When it comes to buying a home, buyers are attracted to things that are neat, tidy, orderly and well appointed.
Consider the following tips when you’re planning the next move on your next move:
- First impressions are lasting impressions – Start with the outside of your home. Take a walk around your yard- front, back and sides. Make note of all those projects you’ve been putting off. It’s time to get them done. A buyer will expect it and insurance companies will inspect it. That’s right. Insurance companies inspect all homes they insure and they can be very picky about the condition of the exterior even if it’s an investment property. If it doesn’t pass they won’t insure it and if it can’t be insured your buyer can’t close on their loan.
Consider the following:
- Yard– remove excess yard waste and debris from lawn (front and back)
- Trees– remove dead trees, limbs, and cut back limbs hanging over your roof
- Shrubs– cut back shrubs and remove and replace any that are dead
- Flower beds– remove and replace any dead plants, freshen up mulch. Consider planting some flowering plants near the front door either in beds or pots
- Yard Art– remove ALL of it! (Trust me on this. You love it. They won’t)
- Front porch, patio and all decking– remove any excess items from the around the front door. Dead plants and empty pots, Children’s toys, and Over-sized patio furniture. Fix or repair any warped boards and tighten loose handrails
- Mailbox– are you supposed to have one? Is it standing up straight? Does the door and flag work? Consider getting a new one. Little details matter
- Home– fix broken windows, peeling paint, blow off the roof, clean the gutters, fix or replace loose or missing bricks, tighten up loose hand railings, and replace and paint and rotten wood. Consider a fresh coat of paint for the front door.
- Garages are for cars not work out equipment – Remember buyers want to know there is plenty of room for their things. One of those things should be obvious……..their car. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with a garage, show it off. If you can’t park your car in it, then that should be your number one priority. Assess what you have stored in the space. Remove all items that are broken, outgrown, and no longer of any use to your and your family. With what you have left, group and store like items together. Remove the items you need, but don’t belong in the garage.
- Take a whiff – when you walk through your front door take a deep breath in. What do you smell? If your answer is anything other than something fresh, then work to find and remove the odor causing offender(s).
Common causes of odors:
- Dirty laundry– you’re going to want to stay on top of this anyway, but gym clothes, wet towels and heavily soiled clothing can start stinking pretty fast. So, don’t let it happen.
- Pets– keep your indoor pets clean, brushed and “show” ready. Keep their litter boxes empty as well. We all get it. What goes in must come out, but no one wants to smell it!!
- Garbage– keep those cans empty. Make it part of your “Take 5” in the evening (see #9)
- Cigarette Smoke– this is a tough one to get rid of, but it’s necessary. Consider having your carpets and furniture professionally cleaned. Wash, wipe and rinse everything you can.
- Air Fresheners– heavily scented air fresheners can be very off putting to buyers.
- Clutter-Clutter Everywhere (Declutter) – Piles come in all shapes and sizes and they are not welcome in your newly listed home. No one wants to see them. Walk around your home and with a very critical eye move from room to room making note of your piles. Your ultimate goal is have all surfaces clear of extra stuff. The kitchen is usually an area that tends to collect all manner of piles- mail, coupons, medicine bottles, children’s book bags and school supplies, money, wallet, keys, spare change. You get the picture. While living with these piles is comfortable for you, no one wants to see it when they are considering their piles in your space. So, clear them off.
Pile causing culprits:
- Books– put them on their proper shelf. If the shelf is too full, (ding ding- you guessed it) pack away some that you’re not reading. Better yet. Consider donating the one’s you know you’ll never look at again
- Magazines– make a rule to keep only the current month and maybe the previous 1 or 2 months. Recycle the rest.
- DVD’s and Video Games– this is a great time to decide if you want to keep any of them. So much available these days for streaming. When is the last time you’ve watched any of them? It doesn’t matter how much you paid for them. If you’re not using them, then get rid of them
- Mail– immediately sort mail when you bring it in. Bills go in a “Current Bills” folder, rotate out magazines, and all junk mail should be shredded. An easy way to keep this pile from getting too big is to tear off your name and any other identifying information, throw away or recycle the rest. You’ll only need to shred the parts you tore off
- Electronics– pack away the ones you don’t use. Recycle the ones you’ll never use again. Create an “Electronics Zone” for all of those handy gadgets you use daily. You can have more than one location for the zone. It’s important to store them where you use them.
- Clothes– next to mail this is probably the biggest pile causing culprit. All of our clothes have a place and it’s not the floor, piled on a chair or pushed under the bed. Hang, fold and put away clothes daily. Make it part of your “Take 5” in the evening (see #9)
- Less is more (Downsize) – A good way to keep those piles at bay is to have less stuff to make the piles. This is probably the most critical thing you can do when prepping your home for sale. Now is the time to get rid of everything you don’t need or love. For some this is easy and others not so easy, but it IS crucial. A buyer wants to see lots of blank space when they walk in.
Consider this list of “To Do’s” when you downsize:
- Kitchen– this room really needs to shine. This room will also take the most time. Buyers want to see a place for everything and everything in it’s place. So, if you don’t have enough space for all of that, then get it out of there. You won’t need all of your pots, pan, extra sets of silverware, china and glasses. Pull everything out of cabinets, drawers, and pantry. Be sparing when you put things back. Pack the extras away.
- All Closets– pull everything out. Get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit, broken, outgrown, or doesn’t belong. Go ahead and pack up seasonal clothing. Not unless you’re listing close to a change in season, chances are you probably won’t need it. Again, be sparing with what you put back. Excess towels, sheets and blankets can all be packed away. I’m sure all of the stuff is important, but not all of it is necessary when you’re trying to show off ALL of your available storage.
- Bedrooms– All surfaces should be clear. A cluttered over-stuffed space is just not appealing. Clean under beds, put clothes away properly. Don’t stuff in drawers and hang on hooks.
- Bathrooms– properly dispose of outdated medicines. If you’re a bulk shopper, only store what you need and pack away the extras. Look inside your shower. How many bottles shampoo, conditioner, body wash do you really need. Throw out those old loofas, mildewed and stained shower liners and replace with new.
In all rooms, you can use some simple and basic organizing principle- group like items together and store them where you use them.
Put away your budding Picasso’s work (Depersonalize) – In addition to wanting to see the space decluttered and with less stuff a buyer also wants to see less of you in the home. It’s hard to imagine that others won’t like your collection of this or that, but it’s probably true.
So, while you’re decluttering and downsizing take the time to pack away:
- Framed phots and photo albums
- Excessive decorative items such as decorative pillows, throws and table coverings
- Children’s artwork
- Extra children’s toys
- Large DVD and Video game collections
- Hobby and Sporting supplies
- Artificial floral arrangements (Even if you paid a lot for it. It’s very personal and won’t appeal to everyone)
- Heavy drapes- buyers love to see natural light. So, don’t cover up your windows. Let the light shine through
- Wax on-Wax off– everything left in your home now needs to be cleaned. I mean everything. Start at the top and work your way down. In all rooms you’ll want to sweep, mop, vacuum, dust and remove cobwebs. Pay attention to baseboards, corners where dust collects, and under furniture.
Spend some extra time on these areas:
- Kitchen– wipe down cabinets, appliances and counter tops. Clean your fridge out. Buyers really do open everything.
- Bathrooms– similar to the kitchen, but in addition make sure shower walls are clean and mold and mildew free. Make sure the counter is clear. If you need a lot to get you ready in the morning, consider keeping all contained in one container. You can keep it under the sink, pull it out each day and after you’ve finished getting ready put all away and under the sink again. It’s actually a huge time saver since you won’t be looking all over the place for your stuff. Pick the clothes up off the floor and hang your towel back up.
- Bedrooms– make the beds (yes! every morning.) Pick up your clothes and put them away in their proper place. Keep surfaces dusted. Pay attention to your window coverings. Do you have blinds up? If so, they probably need to be dusted. Put away toys. Even if it’s just a huge basket, use it. At least it will all be contained.
- Den, Living Room and Dining Room– keep surfaces clear. This is especially true for the dining room table (remember our discussion earlier about piles?) Put away electronics, magazines
- Take Five– take five minutes before you go to bed. Pick up and put away any toys, games and dirty clothes. Pay particular attention to any returning piles- mail, magazines or new papers and address them immediately. Then in the morning take five minutes before you leave for the day to make sure beds are made, garbage is out, litter box (if you have one) is fresh, and kitchen counters are clear.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is once you’ve decided to sell your home, you’ve got to change your mindset. It’s no longer yours and the things that make it your home may not be appealing to a potential buyer. So, focus on taking the home out of your house. Pack it away and get it ready for your new house. You’ll need them to turn your new house in to your new home.