By Sharon Bloudek, March 17, 2020
Getting ready to sell your home is a daunting task. If you’ve lived in your home a long time, listing and preparing to sell may be a very emotional process. Even if it’s not—even if you can’t wait to move! —there is still a long list of things to do when you’re moving. If you’re planning to sell, try to give yourself plenty of lead time to prepare your house to list. Careful attention to the following items can make thousands of dollars of difference!
What to do before listing your house for sale:
- Pay attention to curb appeal. It’s likely that prospective buyers first see your home in an online listing. This is the first impression—and a whole post can (and should!) be dedicated to creating an online listing to attract buyers. However, curb appeal is the very next impression, and it is crucially important. The moment prospective buyers park in front of your house or pull into the driveway, they begin to form an impression—before they ever step inside the house (or even get out of the car). Touch up paint, clean the gutters, trim the trees, shrubs, and grass, and plant colorful flowers or hang a flower basket. A tidy front porch and a new doormat make your home feel cheerful and inviting. And don’t forget to give attention to the backyard, too. It might not be street-facing, but you can be sure that prospective buyers will essentially look there.
- Clean, clean, clean. And then clean some more. Knock down cobwebs, dust windowsills, baseboards, ceiling fans, and furniture. Scrub the grout. Shampoo the carpets and clean hardwood floors. Take a pumice stone to stains sinks, tubs, and toilet. Clean glass, including windows, mirrors, and any glass-front cabinets. When you think you can’t possibly clean anything else—clean some more. And then get ready to clean every time you having a showing.
- Declutter. People collect a lot of stuff. The longer you’ve lived in a house, the more you tend to accumulate. Now—before you list your house—is the time to go through everything. Get two big bins: one bin for donations and one bin for garbage. Begin to fill them as you go through every cupboard, every closet, every nook and cranny in your home. Once you’ve done this, go back through each room and begin to box up personal items (framed photos, photo albums, toys, books, knickknacks, etc.) and things that you don’t have an immediate use for (extra dishes, extra towels, bedding, out-of-season clothes, etc.). Your goal is to give prospective buyers a sense of spaciousness in your home. Don’t think that buyers won’t look inside cabinets and closets. They absolutely will. There’s no place in your home that you can hide things, so now is the time to begin to pack things that you intend to move to your new home.
- Paint the walls. Maybe you love bright, bold colors. So do I! But home buyers want to envision themselves in your home. Help them out by giving your home—either the entire interior, or a room here and there as needed—a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color: think soft white, gray, or beige. Not only does this help buyers as they mentally “try on” your house, but fresh paint also gives prospective buyers the sense that you have maintained and cared for your home.
- Rearrange furniture. Decluttering isn’t just for small, personal items. Think about what furniture you might be able to remove from your home to make it feel more spacious. Do you have an old, comfortable, but unsightly armchair? Move. It. Out. Do you have eight chairs crowded around your dining room table when four would do? Move the extra chairs out. While you’re at it, remove bean bag chairs, extra bookcases, or any other awkwardly placed piece of furniture. Once you’ve done this, look at the remaining pieces with a critical eye. Arrange sofas and tables in a way that appears to invite conversation. Arrange bedrooms so that the bed is the focal point of the room. Strive to make each room or space in your home as inviting as possible.
- Remove all signs of pets. This one is hard. I know. Pets are part of our families. But that’s just it: a pet is part of your family. But to a prospective buyer, pets might be a major turnoff. Now is the time to remove pet toys, crates, beds, and dishes from your home. If you will be living in your home while it’s on the market, it’s important to pare back pet items as much as you can. Leave food dishes and a single bed, and be prepared to pack these items into the back of your car while a buyer tours the house. Further, make sure that pet odors are eliminated from your house. Again, shampooing carpets can go a long way in helping with pet odors. However, ask a friend—or anyone who doesn’t live with you—to come over and tell you if your house smells like Fluffy. If the answer is “yes,” research ways to sanitize and deodorize your space.
- Freshen things up. Small touches make for a big impact when it comes to staging your home. It goes without saying (I hope!) that every garbage should be emptied prior to a showing. But you can do more! Here’s a trick: think envision your house as a beautiful bed-and-breakfast. Place a vase of lovely flowers on the table, and a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop. Make the beds with new, crisp linens, and place fluffy white towels in the bathrooms. A soft throw blanket draped over the arm of the sofa or an attractive art book on the coffee table lend feelings of coziness and sophistication.
What’s the point of all of this? Think of it this way: your job is to give buyers a vision. These touches take buyers from “I could live here,” to “I want to live here!” And after all, that’s the goal! It’s a lot of work, and it can seem daunting. But the payoff can be immense. While you can tackle all of these items on your own, you certainly don’t have to. I can recommend house cleaners, painters, and professional home stagers who can help you to declutter and prepare your home for listing. Whether you want to list next week or in six months, use this list or call me and we can begin the process—together!