Detach yourself emotionally
Easier said then done. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but the opposite needs to be true for selling real estate. Emotions can get in the way of selling your property. The more attached you are, the harder it will be to convince a potential buyer to see themselves as the new homeowner. Try to get used to the idea that the home will no longer be yours. Think of it as a product to be sold. Visit every room and say “good-bye.” Visualize yourself handing over the keys.
Outside: Curb appeal can create a good first impression. Cut the lawn weekly while showing your home. Keep the lawn edged, fertilized and watered. Trim the bushes, prune trees and shrubs, remove weeds from the garden. Collect and remove pine needles. Consider planting seasonally appropriate plants to add color. Plant shrubs to fill space where needed. Keep the yard tidy. Rake the leaves in the fall. Keep the walkways clear of snow in the winter. Store lawn equipment, toys, or any other large objects that my obstruct walkways. Pressure-wash the siding or add a fresh coat of paint. Use neutral colors such as white or off-white. Repaint or replace the shutters or gutters as needed. A contrasting color is a nice touch. Add a new doormat. Repaint, refinish or replace the front door. Make sure the front door opens and closes securely and locks easily. Make sure the house number can easily be read (replace faded numbers and remove obstructions).
Inside: Paint walls in a neutral color to appeal to a wide range of buyers. Replace burned out light bulbs. Replace carpeting or flooring that is worn out or dated. Create an impression of order around the house (shirts in the closet facing the same way, coffee mugs in the kitchen with handles pointed in the same direction). Dishes should be put away or stacked in an orderly fashion. Towels should be freshly clean. Keep the home bright. Open all blinds, drapes and curtains to let in maximum light. Turn on as many lights as possible, including appliance lights and closet lights. Leave the home during all showings, buyers can’t focus on your home if you are in the house.
After years of owning and living in your house, clutter collects everywhere. Removing it is a challenge since you are attached to some of these objects. You may not even be aware how much you’ve accumulated. Bring in another set of eyes such as a friend or neighbor to help point out areas that appear cluttered. Your agent can also help with this.
Remove as many personal items as possible – you want the buyer to visualize themselves as the homeowner and your personal effects could inhibit this process. For example, remove any family photos, books from the bookcases, and accoutrements from tables and shelves. Sell, donate or throw away items you no longer want or need. Rent a storage space to keep kick-knacks, photos, extra furniture, and other personal items. Essential items can be placed in a box and stored in a closet.
Create an open environment, free from clutter. Remove any extra furniture or objects blocking access to closets or cabinets. Keep walkways clear. Create as much space as possible. Allow the buyer’s imagination to flow freely.
*Useful tip: Remove built-in appliances and fixtures you want to keep. It could be a deal breaker if the buyer learns they are not included with the home.
Fixing up your home for selling need not be an expensive proposition. Focus on the major issues, such as fixing broken windows or a leaky roof. Fixing a leaking roof is less expensive than having a buyer negotiate a new roof.
When inspecting a home, prospective buyers will often “kick the tires.” They’ll play with anything that has a handle or switch, turning on and off the faucets, flicking the lights, opening and closing doors, cabinets and drawers. Replace or polish handles, door knobs, light switches and faucet fixtures. Apply grease to squeaky doors. These are some inexpensive ways to create a good first impression.
Smoking and pets are a source of unwanted odors. If you are a pet owner, you may have become desensitized to the odors your pets leave behind, but others are not so immune. Cat owners should change the kitty litter daily and hide the litter box when showing the house. Shampoo the carpets. Use a carpet freshener periodically. Invite a third-party such as a friend or neighbor to assess your efforts.
Air out the house just before a visit from a potential buyer. Fill the home with inviting smells, such as scented potpourri and fresh flowers. Baking cookies, cinnamon rolls or home-made bread adds a warm and inviting atmosphere to your home. Starting a fire in the fireplace is also a nice touch.