When it comes time to sell your home, you want it to sell fast and at top dollar. Trust me, no one wants this more than your realtor. However, no amount of luck is going to make that happen without a little effort from you, the seller.
There's no complicated formula for getting your house ready to put on the market, but it will take time and it will take some objectivity. And in today's market, it requires remembering the basics. Proper planning and knowing how to spruce up your house will turn it into a marketable, must-have home.
- Disassociate yourself from your home. Say to yourself, "This is not my home...This is not my home..." You have to be able to let go of any emotional ties to the house and come to grips that the house will no longer be yours. Say "good-bye" to each room and look forward to your next house.
- De-personalize. It's time to take down the personal photos, family heirlooms, and anything else that may indicate that the house is yours. There are many buyers out there that cannot look past personal items. The second the buyer steps foot into your house, you want them to envision their own photos on the shelves. You need them to think, "I can see myself living here..."
- De-clutter. As long as you're packing up the photos of you and the kids, you might as well get rid of the knick-knacks, the pile of papers/bills on the desk, the small appliances on the kitchen counters...Think of it as getting an early start on the packing you're going to have to do anyway. Besides, it all goes back to the philosophy of "K.I.S.S.": "Keep It Simple, Silly"!
- Straighten cabinets and closets. Let's face it. People love to snoop. Though I try hard to keep my buyers in line, there are people out there that will open drawers and cabinets to get a glimpse into your life. Wow them with a closet where all the shirts are facing the same direction, clothes don't drag on the floor and shoes are lined up neatly. Amaze them with a pantry where all the cans and boxes of food are faced and neatly stacked. If a buyer sees that you take time to care about your personal items, they'll think you take time to care for your house.
- Rent a storage unit. I recommended this to a buyer once and they thought I was kidding. Less really is more. By the time you reach this step, you probably have some empty shelves. Store them. The big leather chair that everyone has to walk around to get to the kitchen? Store it. The toys in the basement that the kids no longer play with? Store them. Leave enough furniture in the room so that the buyers know what purpose the room serves.
- Remove/replace your favorite items. Be prepared for the buyer that may ask for the appliances, window coverings, or your plasma TV as part of the deal. If you don't want to take that risk remove or replace it now. It could become a deal breaker.
- Make minor repairs. I'm not saying that some major repairs may not be necessary, but having the little things done makes the house that much more appealing. Take the time to do repairs like fix leaky faucets, patch any holes in the walls, do touch-up paint, or clean the carpet. These repairs take a minimal amount of time and are worth the investment.
- Clean. Clean. Clean. Then clean some more. Dust, vacuum, mop, fluff the pillows, clear out any odors.
- Take a second look. Is your house inviting? Does it make sense? Does it look like no one lives in the house?
- How's your curb appeal? Your house probably has 10 seconds to make a good first impression and that's before the buyer even gets out of the car. Mow the lawn, trim the bushes, pull weeds or dead plants, apply a fresh coat of paint where needed, plant fresh flowers. How your house looks on the outside is just as important as how it looks on the inside...and will determine whether the buyer even wants to go that far.
Preparing your house for sale will take some time, but will be worth it in the long run. So roll up your sleeves, follow these steps and within a week, your house will be ready to go!