Selling your home is not the responsibility of you or your real estate agent. It is actually the responsibility of the home itself. You have a job to give your home the tools to close the sale. My job as your agent, is to put potential buyers in the house. Together we can make your home prepared to WOW the buyer and get offers.
I have comprised a checklist to make your home market ready.
- Curb Appeal: Make sure your home is mowed, edged and free of toys or trash that can stop a potential buyer from coming in the door. Trim all hedges or trees. Pick up dog or cat poop in the yard.
- Remove ALL pets! I am a proud owner of two dogs. But people need to feel free to roam around the house without fear. Ask a neighbor or family member to keep Fido or Fluffy. The quicker we get an offer, the quicker they can come home.
- Remove Clutter: It might seem like a good idea to show off your stuff, but less makes your home look larger and roomier. Rent a storage unit to put all your excess things. Coffee pots, toasters, pictures on the walls. Take any unnecessary furniture out also. Less furniture can make a room feel bigger than it is. If you don’t need the recliner or end table, then take it to storage. If it’s winter, take all the summer clothes out of the closet and vice versa. Make it appear like you have extra room in the closet. (A bonus is that you will have a lot already packed for your move)
- Cleaning: Once you have removed all excess clutter you need to clean. My suggestion is get a professional. Leave them a key and let them spend hours dusting and deep cleaning the entire house. If you have carpet, then hire a company to professionally clean your carpets. They can make older carpet look new. But they also charge more if they have to remove a bunch of stuff first. (Another reason number 3 is important)
- Paint: I cannot stress the importance of neutral colors. A bright pink or blue room was awesome when you decorated for your kids. Now you need a color that ANY furniture will match. (Be the buyer and imagine your house painted orange throughout) That is how bright colors might come across to a potential buyer. Earth tones can usually match about anything. Earth tones also let the buyer imagine their own bright colors. If you have earth tones then spackle and touch up all the holes. If there are a lot, it could look spotty. So rolling a wall may be your best option.
- Exterior: Consider painting if you have wood rot or grime on your exterior. Most painters will add in wood replacement when quoting a price on exterior paint. If not, then ask for that included if you know of a spot needing attention.
- Atmosphere: Make your home feel inviting upon entering. Don’t be afraid of plug-ins or candles for a nice aroma. Make sure all light bulbs work. Buyers want to turn on all light and look at things. Put out place mats and silver ware. If you can, have lights already on when the potential buyer arrives. (Totally understandable if you can’t do that because of work) Leave each day for work like you will have 10 showings that day. Make all beds and put away dirty dishes. Put all cleaning products away. Eat out if you can, to avoid messes that may need a quick clean. Keep dirty laundry out of sight if possible. Put hampers in garage or a closet.
- Flooring: If you are considering putting in new floors then put in what will bring back more money. Nice carpet, ceramic tile or (real) hardwoods. Vinyl and laminate wood can come across cheaper sometimes. If you are not replacing flooring than make sure you clean them up. No yellow around toilet, etc...
- Bathrooms and Kitchen: These are the two most important places you can make money in your home. If you haven’t already updated your bathrooms and kitchen then do it. If you can’t afford to do it, then hope other homes in your neighborhood haven’t updated either. When I say update, it doesn’t necessarily mean huge amounts of money. Make all kitchen appliances match. (No black dishwasher, white stove and stainless steel fridge) Make them all match. If you have yellow countertops I may not can help you. Formica isn’t necessarily bad as long as it isn’t a bright color from the 70’s. Make your bathroom fixtures look newer. Bright colored countertops look dated. If the tub has black marks in it, then refinish it or scrub until your fingers bleed. Make sure your toilet is clean and remove all hair dryers, curling irons, makeup, cologne etc…. A cleaned off bathroom counter looks taken care of, even if it is dated.
- Pictures: After the home is ready then I will hire a company to take professional pictures. I do this out of my own pocket so I expect the home to look good. In some cases I will take the photos myself. But if you put the effort into getting your house ready for market. I will put the money into getting quality, professional photos. Plus a virtual tour for the MLS you can email out to your friends.
I understand that some sellers are not in the position to pour money into their home. When I set up our personal appointment, I may tell you that it isn’t worth it. If the market won’t give you the return for your money, there is no need to waste it. If that is the consensus, then the cleaning and removal of clutter is the most important thing.
Following these 10 steps will help your home do its job of impressing a potential buyer. Even if you are dumping a property with no intention of repairing anything, CLEANING it can be of the utmost importance.