Preparing Your House For Today’s Market

Most people that try to sell their house will fall into 2 categories; those who try to sell and those who are successful. I can’t stress enough how important it is for your house to be in its best possible condition. You only get one chance to make a first impression and in today’s market, you don’t want to give a Buyer any reason to “look for a better one”. Your goal is to sell your house as quickly as possible, as time is money. I’ve put together a list of the 6 most important things for you to do to put on your “Sunday best” and capture that Buyer! Each one builds on the other.

1. Curb Appeal

Make sure the lawn is manicured and landscaping is trimmed; add fresh mulch to flower beds. Put outdoor toys away and store yard tools in a shed or garage. Remove any newspapers from the driveway and decorate according to the season. If it’s February, take down the Christmas wreath. Place Mums on the front porch in the fall or plant some marigolds or pansies in the spring & summer. Remember you want to create that sense of “wanting to be there”.

2. De-Clutter

Buyers are looking for space. De-cluttering is the process of reclaiming the space in your house from years of collecting and storing. Don’t expect the Buyers to ignore all this and imagine your house in its clutter-free state. Today’s Buyer may see a dozen houses in one day and you don’t want to be remembered as the “hoarder’s house”. De-clutter so the Buyers can see your house, not your stuff. Go room by room and remove items that are not a necessity. Remember, you want to create as much space as possible. If you have a lot of furniture or big furniture, remove it. It may be necessary to rent a storage unit or a POD. Get rid of knick/knacks and if you have an abundance of toys, remove most of them from bedrooms and create a designated place for play. Keep an empty Rubbermaid tub in rooms that have a lot of toys so when you get the call for a showing, you can quickly gather them all and throw them in the tub. De-cluttering can be a very taxing task, but the good news is, it’s free and it is the one thing that will help you the most. Get all family members to participate and designate.

Have three categories for your stuff:
1. Things for the trash
2. Things to keep
3. Things to give away.

Pack up things that you are keeping but are not in use. Then when you do move, it will be one less box to pack. In basements and garages, these places are often used for storage, but it is important to show that there is room for “stuff”. Try to keep items all together and not scattered around. Think Space! Clear counter tops, clear off the fridge, organize closets and remove clothes. Use “plugs ins” or some sort of fragrance, but nothing too strong or with a “cologne” smell. People are very opinionated about smells. So, it is important to remove any unpleasant odors. Refresh with Febreeze or other fresh scent sprays right before a showing.

3. Restore (rooms to their original intended functions)

Do your rooms have an identity crisis? Maybe you’ve changed a dining room into the “playroom” or your living room is doubling up as an exercise room; or the sitting room off of the master bedroom has been transformed into the office. It may surprise you that many Buyers do not have a very good imagination. You want them to see their dining room table in the dining room and their couch in the family room. When the rooms that are created for one purpose are being used for another, it creates mixed messages and Buyers will think the design of your house isn’t well laid out or they’ll think a room is missing altogether. It would be best for you to return all the rooms to their original intended use.

4. Repair & Update

Make sure to take care of any items that are on the “honey do list” before you go on the market. Today’s Buyers expect a trouble-free home. They want to buy a house, move in and start enjoying it right away. They don’t want to waste time and money fixing up the place. If you don’t repair your house, it will be seen as a fixer-upper and you will not be able to attract the right kind of Buyers, nor will you get the price you want for it. Buyers, in an effort to protect themselves, will always inflate the actual cost of the repair. A simple fix that might cost you a hundred dollars, in a Buyers mind is a thousand. If they are first time home Buyers they especially don’t know the cost of repairs and are often times scared away by the fear of the unknown. They also wonder what else there might be that they can’t see. You may even consider having a pre-inspection to ward off any potential concerns and address anything up front that may come up in an inspection. You can then advertise “worry free” inspections already done and go one step further by offering a home warranty. In today’s market, it is important to put to bed any objection. Fresh paint inside & out. If your house hasn’t been painted in the last couple of years, you should consider painting and touch up inside where little fingers have cruised the walls and in baths where moisture has dulled the paint. Don’t forget the front door. Consider updating hardware on cabinetry and replacing the brass light fixtures. Today’s Buyer is extremely trendy.

5. Cleaning

Cleaning your house for sale goes well beyond dusting, mopping and vacuuming. Now that you have de-cluttered, it won’t be as hard to clean it. Clean it like you mean it. Examine every square inch of your house and restore it to as near-new condition. Consider this harsh reality; if something appears dirty or smells bad to you, it will be revolting to the Buyers! You want the Buyers to think that Mr. & Mrs. Clean live here. Make sure to clean the windows and that the floors are clean, swept, and vacuumed. Bathrooms should be clean and free of mold & mildew. Replace old caulk. Clean faucets & fixtures. Make them shine! If you don’t have the time to clean, then you should hire a professional. It’s a smart investment. Open blinds and let that sunshine in. You’ve heard the term, “light sells”. It is very true. Penny pinching to save on utilities while trying to sell your home could cost you the sale. No one likes to enter dark dingy rooms.

6. Depersonalize

Once again, remember that you want the Buyers to see themselves in your house, not your kids & grandkids. It’s OK to have a few personal photos throughout the home or displayed nicely in an arrangement, but don’t overdo it. Remove wallpaper. The thing about wallpaper is that no one likes the same print and no one likes to take it down. There are professionals that can do it for you (worth every penny). Get rid of borders and try not to overdo your favorite “team” paraphernalia. Consider professional staging. This is an excellent investment. Stagers know exactly how to make your home appeal to potential Buyers. They have no emotional attachment and are able to quickly transform your home and give it that “WOW” factor.

You’re Done

Give yourself a big pat on the back and sit back and let it happen! You can honestly say you have done everything you can do to prepare your house for the market. I’ll take it from here!