before putting your home on the market a little advance preparation will pay big dividends not only in a faster sale but usually also nets a seller more money at closing.
some fix up things pay huge dividends. for example painting is one of the biggest returns on investment you can get; some experts say for every dollar you spend painting you get five dollars back in increased sale price.
here's a list of 40 free or inexpensive things you can do to make your house sell faster and for more money.
1. be sure your lawn and shrubbery is kept trimmed at all times. consider removing overgrown trees and shrubs that hide the house from the street.
2. keep the garage doors down at all times.
3. for a touch of color, have seasonal flowers growing in beds and containers.
4. make sure your driveway is in good repair. pressure wash concrete drives and walks to remove stains and car drippings, and put a fresh coat of sealer on asphalt drives.
5. make sure patios and decks are clean and in good repair. replace any rotten wood and nail down loose boards on decking or steps; pressure wash if needed.
6. garage sale time! clear out everything you don't intend to keep and tidy up what's staying. make sure garage doors and openers are in proper working order.
7.check all railings and fencing to make sure it's in good repair and freshly painted.
8. pay special attention to the area around your front door; make sure your doorbell works, clean all cobwebs, leaves, and other debris that may have accumulated there. give the front door a fresh coat of paint if needed; paint is one of the most cost effective fix up items you can do.
9. check for broken windows or leaking seals on thermo pane windows; replace if necessary.
10. clean all the cobwebs from around the front door. make sure all outdoor lighting (especially front porch) is clean and shiny; replace if necessary. it is especially important that the entrance to your home make a good first impression on prospective buyers. this sets the tone for the whole showing.
11. check your mailbox. is it straight and upright? neatly trimmed around?
12. before you start indoors walk across the street in front of your house and look back (like a buyer will see it). does it present an appealing appearance?
13. start by walking through the house and making a list. do your carpets need shampooing? floors need a fresh coat of wax? dust all ceiling fans especially the blades and wash light
14. you're going to have to pack when you move anyway, so go through all your closets and pack up everything you don't need for the next couple of months. a closet with only a few neatly arranged items creates an impression of abundant storage space.
15. thin out overcrowded rooms. ever notice the model homes sparse furnishings? they make the rooms look larger. consider renting a storage facility to store excess lamps, tables, and large items that eat up space in a room.
16.go through and pack up most of your family pictures and collections of model ships, stamps, quilts, or anything that might cause a buyer to stop and look at your collections of stuff instead of your house.
17.check all light fixtures to make sure all the bulbs burn. use the largest wattage bulb that you safely can to give off more light.
18. wash all your windows and make sure window treatments are clean and in good repair. keep the window coverings open whenever possible to let in more light.
19. with a good degreaser, wipe down everything in the kitchen so it feels clean to the touch. clean your stove and oven; replace stove eye pans if needed
20. go through your kitchen cabinets and pantry to make sure they're neat and tidy; give any food that you don't plan to use right away to the local food pantry.
21.make sure your sinks are clean at all times and free of dirty dishes and utensils.
22. remove all excess items from your counters to give the impression of lots of work surface.
23. pleasing aromas add to the appealing atmosphere we're trying to establish for your buyers; consider keeping a saucepan of potpourri on the stove to give off an appealing scent.
24.clean all light switch places by taking them off and washing with soap and water; replace if necessary.
25.make sure the bathrooms are spotless at all times with fresh towels, decorative soaps, and all fixtures are shiny, scrubbed, and in good repair.
26. check all faucets and shower heads to make sure they're spotless and free of leaks and drips.
27. repaint interior rooms if needed with neutral colors.
28.don't forget your ceilings too; years of living in a home with cooking, smoking, and other everyday activities can stain ceilings. paint ages; repaint if needed.
29. don't have large, space eating house plants sitting around; give them away or ask a neighbor to store them until you move.
31.the more light you can get into a room the bigger and more spacious the room will appear. when you leave for a showing, turn on lights in rooms that are normally darker than you would like and make sure the window coverings are open to admit outside light.
32. an old decorator trick to bring in more light as well as make rooms appear larger are mirrors; either hanging on a wall or on a stand.
33. pack away and store out of season clothes. get rid of extra hangars. straighten up your shoes (consider some inexpensive shoe racks from a discount store like k-mart or wal-mart).
34. when painting don't forget the interiors of closets and the closets doors; make sure all closet and interior doors open and close correctly.
35. check where ceilings meet wall and clean all cobwebs, this is a commonly overlooked area when cleaning, along with tops of tall furniture items such as hutches, entertainment centers, etc.
36. if you have a pet make sure there are no odors. you may not notice odors since you live with your pet every day, have a neutral third party give your home a "sniff" test for objectionable odors that may turn buyers off.
37. also, when buyers come to visit, keep your pet under control, or better yet, get a friend or neighbor to "pet sit" for you while the buyers are looking.
38. it's important that you leave the house for all showings. buyers feel less inhibited if you're not around and will usually take a closer look in closets and in kitchen cabinets, as well as voice any objections that your agent can then deal with. if the buyers won't make comments because you're
following them around pointing things out then your agent can't deal with any potential problems that may hinder making an offer.
39. if you have several vehicles make sure the spot closest to the door buyers enter through is empty for them.
40. freshly baked or even store bought cookies & little snacks along with an appropriate beverage (hot in winter, cold in summer) along with a sign saying "please sit down and enjoy a treat while you're here" will make your home more memorable even if they don't take anything. remember little
things can go a long way towards getting your home sold quickly for the best price.
copyright ©, jim lee, 2004-2006