I once showed a house that was so full of clutter that the buyers left and never realized there was a full basement. The "stuff" distracted them from seeing the home's full layout and the potential sale was lost. A few years ago, another reasonably priced home sat silently in a very hot seller's market with lots of activity, but 0 offers. The sellers were collectors and buyers were so intrigued by the collectibles they would ask me questions like, "Was there a bedroom on the main floor?" or "Where was the laundry room?" and "Did we see the backyard?" Once the sellers moved out and removed the items, the home sold right away.
A hot market can potentially make sellers complacent because homes generally sell very well. But, as we all know, seller's markets don't last forever. As we potentially transition into a more balanced market, cleanliness will become increasingly important. And it starts with decluttering. Here are a few tips to increase the probability that your home will sell.
1. Buyers need to "see" your home in order to "see" themselves in it. Remove distractions like photos, souvenirs, trinkets, and piles of papers. Often, we become accustomed to our things, we don't necessarily see them as a distraction from the home. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to do a walk-through and tell you what they see. Remember, the goal is to sell your house rather than showcase your stuff.
2. Clean out. Evaluate your space, get rid of things you no longer need or use. Have a yard sale or donate to a local thrift store. It will mean less clutter and less to pack when you move... a win/win!
3. When you have a showing, prepare as if you're getting ready to welcome the most important guest you've ever hosted. Make your bed, fluff the pillows, vacuum, clean up your personal items, hang up your clothes, make your home smell nice, and put away your mail. The effort is worth it in the long run and "the little things" truly make a difference.
4. Update the outdated, dirty, or broken items in your home. This doesn't have to be an expensive or stressful task. Create a fresh, clean appearance by removing or repainting outdated pieces of furniture. Spray paint often works wonders and it's inexpensive and fast. New lamps create ambiance and add lighting, or simply just change the light bulbs! A new rug or fresh colorful pillows are a good choice and slipcovers for couches cover a multitude of stains or rips. You can even use an inexpensive drop cloth as a slipcover!
5. Think of curb appeal as driving up to a restaurant that looks like a shack...it's sometimes hard to want to eat there even if you've heard rave reviews! The outside of your home is the first thing a buyer sees and can make the difference between someone walking in or turning around in the driveway. Clean the gutters, paint the shutters, refresh with mulch or rock, pressure wash, and clean away cobwebs and bugs.
6. Understand that buyers have high expectations. With your real estate agent's guidance, you need to meet or exceed their expectations if you want a chance at selling. Decluttering and cleaning up can be emotional and overwhelming, but think about it this way...if your clutter overwhelms you, think how it impacts a buyer!
7. Maximize your profit by trusting the experts. You want a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about your market and isn't afraid to be straightforward and realistic about how your home compares to others on the market. Sometimes this guidance is hard to accept, but it can often mean the difference in selling your home vs. having it become stale on the market.
Preparing a home to sell is a crucial step in the overall outcome of your real estate experience. Removing clutter, cleaning up, refreshing the home's curb appeal, and choosing your agent wisely will make a valuable difference. If you're ready to sell, then you need to give your home the best chance possible so that you can move on to your next adventure.