Now that I have talked about preparing yourself for the sale of the home, I want to move on to the conversation about what you need to do to get your home ready for sale. In some ways this step is easier, in that you have already made the decision to sell and thought through all the important considerations. Now it is time to act and make some changes to your place to make it most presentable.
The very first thing you’d need to do is make the home clutter free. Books or magazines in random places, clothes either outside of the closets or inside, but all mangled up in colourful heaps, underwear or socks on the floors - all create an impression of untidiness and will make the buyers think that the owners did not take good care of the house. Do a “pre-sale tidying up” to present your home and you have taken care of it in the best possible light.
A lot of agents would tell you to depersonalize the space. It is true to a degree. You don’t need to remove every personal trinket from view, but if your fridge is looking like a roof with a picture of your family on every shingle, you need to take them down. The idea is to make people see themselves in the new space and your photos will make this process more difficult.
Most of us cook from time to time. What smells appetizing when hungry, may trigger a gag reflex if you are full and the smell can linger in the house long after the food is cooked and eaten. You need to plan when and what foods you are going to be cooking while your home is on the market. If you feel the urge to whip up a fish soup, do it in the evening, after all the showings are finished and air the house before the next day.
Do you know the smell of an old bar, especially when it was allowed to smoke there? It reeks of old, spilled booze and cigarette butts. When you pass a “designated smoking area” at an airport and get a whiff of air around it, it reminds you of harmful habits, limited acceptance and impulsive decisions - usually the things you want to stay away from. If you have been smoking in the house - stop. Get an air purifier, like the one here and either smoke outside or use the “I have to sell” pressure to stop smoking all together. Lastly, when your home has a neutral smell, install an air freshener to create a high end hotel feel when the buyers first come in.
After 2 or 3 years of use even new homes need some TLC. Replace burnt out light bulbs, fix any holes in the walls, remove black mold in between your bathroom tiles, paint over kid’s scribbles on walls and take care of the pet stain on the carpet. Better yet, steam clean the carpets and give your house a fresh coat of paint. It is an expense that will go a long way when it comes to the interest you can generate from the buying public and the price on offers you receive.
Next step is renovating parts of your home or the entire place. If your bathrooms are from the 60s with latte coloured, commercial looking toilets and your kitchen has 30 year old appliances that are there just because they still work, consider replacing them with new ones. You need to be smart about creating a consistent look and feel of the house. A brand new kitchen and appliances in a pre-war bungalow that has never been updated will look out of place and will not add to the value of your house. Consult with a real estate agent or an interior designer to see what approach you should take to bring the value of your house up by renovating.
Artwork is one of last finishing touches that makes the house look complete and lived in. There are specific guidelines on how to hang the artwork for maximum impact and can find them in this simple to understand article.
The next few points would only apply to the house. If you live in a condo though, clean up your balcony or re-decorate with the outdoor furniture that would make it look cozy and inviting.
Let’s move to the garage now. It it became a place where put anything you are not sure what to do with, you need to schedule a day to clean it out. Spend a day on throwing stuff you don’t need out or run a garage sale and try to sell whatever you don’t need. Then, tidy up whatever is remaining, so that even if the garage has a lot of stuff, it looks well organized and the house feels cared for.
Time to go outside. Is your stucco discoloured or main door to the house is crooked with half the paint gone? You need to decide if your house looks visually appealing from the outside. Even if you don’t bring a professional to tell you what you need to do, invite your family and friends to give you their opinions and make some changes. Those could be as simple as lubricating the door hinges or replacing the old street number plaque on the front of the house or as involved as changing the siding or re-laying the stones in the driveway. You will make the call, but in most cases you would be well served by doing something.
Now we are going around the house and to the backyard. The grass needs to be cut. Any left overs of construction materials that you have been saving, in case you would need them one day need to be gone. The fence needs to be fixed and painted or possibly replaced. Clean your barbecue, if there is one and consider buying new outdoor furniture, specifically if you are selling during the warm season, when people like spending time outside.
As you can see, there is nothing complicated in preparing your house for sale. At a minimum it would take some time and forethought. At a maximum, it will involve some expense. Ether way, you will make your house look more appealing and this will either help you sell by looking better than the competition or will bring you more money than what you would have gotten otherwise.