|Set the Scene
Set the scene to make your property as attractive and welcoming as possible. A few easy tips will help you do this. You get only one chance to make a first impression! So knock their socks off!
Little things make a big difference. Look at the details because a lot of details paint the larger picture.
The first things a prospective buyer sees when stepping out of the car is your house from the outside. This is where ‘Curb Appeal' goes into effect. Step back and evaluate the appearance of the exterior. Look for a weed-free, well watered lawn. The entrance of the house should be clean and in good repair. Leaky and dripping gutters can lead to problems with the foundation so pay good attention to the image your house portraits outside. It goes without saying that children’s toys and your yard maintenance equipment should, at this time, be neatly stored inside the garage or storage shed.
The view inside . . .
Are your windows washed and they allow your home to look as bright as possible?
Does your house smell good? It's amazing how many people get turned off by bad odors. Pets, mold, smoke etc. can all contribute to a smelly home. Clean thoroughly your old carpets if you can't afford to have them replaced. For some individuals with allergies or chronic lung disease a home that smells of things like pets, smoke and other allergens will be an immediate turn off.
This is the time to get the kids or pet's toys off the floor. Vacuum along the edges of the carpet. Dust all air return registers! Make your house as safe as possible for showings. If you have slippery floor and area rugs on it make sure the rugs firmly placed and do not slip. Clean away clutter from stairways and hallways You don't want an accident in your home!
Buyers are always looking for space. Selling time is an opportune way to evaluate your possessions. Go through all of your closets and stored items and decide what stays and moves with you and what doesn’t. The more items and boxes you need to move the more it costs in moving fees. Another good question you can ask yourself while you are already dealing with this topic is how much of your costly future real estate you wish to donate to storing your stuff. George Carlin said it best..." A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it." Donate and recycle what you don't want anymore or throw it away. Seasonal items are best stored away in plastic totes. Let the buyer see just how spacious your home is. If you have no time to sort things out right away, place all non-essential things in boxes out of the closets.
Keep the boxes neatly in a corner of your tidied up garage or basement. You can go through those boxes later on at your own convenience. Clean all surfaces, dust away cobwebs! Do it daily. Lock pets away! Many people are not comfortable with animals. Remember, even the friendliest and oldest dog's instincts to protect the family may kick in at the worst time. The same thing applies to cats. Being locked away for a few hours won't hurt them. Too many sellers make the mistake of asking prospective buyers to baby-sit their pets with instructions like : "Please don't allow the cat in the basement." It really isn't the visitor's responsibility and tends to irritate potential buyers.
Turn off the TV and music. At the most play some universally liked music very softly in the back ground. Remove your collectibles and clutter. Paint surfaces that need a new coat of paint. Do not forget to mask any surfaces that need no paint (especially wood trimmings etc). A bad do-it yourself job negates your best efforts and intentions. When painting, it is advisable to choose neutral colors only. If your little girl wants pink walls, tell her it must wait until you move to your new home. Fix dripping faucets, rusty sinks, squeaky doors, tighten screws where it needs doing, glue back lose wallpaper edges and corners. Fix broken outlets. Dust fans and light fixtures. When showing your house let there be light! Turn on many lights. A bright home seems larger. Clean your bathrooms and kitchen well! Every inch and nook and cranny. Bleach away mold on tiles etc. Make sure garbage cans and wastebaskets are empty and clean. Clean your refrigerator and all other appliances inside and out. When visitors come to look at your home be friendly and helpful but don't turn the visit into a social one. Buyers don't like to feel pressured. Also, don't try to sell them odds and ends you don't want to take with you. It's not a garage sale.
When you leaf through elegant decorating magazines or hotel brochures you will see that the pictures of the rooms have one thing in common. Everything is staged so as to be very appealing. You just want to climb into the picture and enjoy the room. Help the prospective buyers envision themselves living in your home. You can do this too to make your home appealing to the prospective buyer. Simply follow these few easy steps. Do this after you have done all the other things such as fixing up and removing clutter. Remember, this alone isn't enough. This is just the cherry on the icing.
Start at the entry. If weather permits place a few potted plants by the doorway and a clean new doormat. Try to avoid doormats with words other than a simple ‘Welcome' at most.
Set the dining table with your china and crystal and good linen. Place a few candles to give the impression that a romantic dinner is ready to be served.
If you have a kitchen table a breakfast setting can also make it more appealing. Have some freshly ground coffee brewing in your coffee maker. If you baked cookies before the appointment or Open House, your kitchen will be irresistible, especially if you place those freshly baked cookies next to the sign-in sheet. Just one word of caution with the cookies, avoid anything with chocolate which is hard to remove once ground into the carpet.
Kitchens have always been and will always be the hub of the household. Whole industries have sprung up to provide us with that one more item we need to be the perfect home chef. And so, we gather more and more items on the counters and in the kitchen cabinets. If a seller opens your cabinet you want them to see a clean interior which doesn’t look to crowded. Remember...space sells. The same goes for your countertops. Unless you have a huge kitchen with yards and yards of counterspace it is advisable to remove all but at the most 3 reasonably sized countertop appliances and items. Most people, I would imagine would keep the microwave, coffee maker and toaster. A lack of counterspace will make the kitchen look small, crowded and inefficient. Remove kitchen canisters and as much other items as possible to either showcase all the space you have or create and illusion that there is more than there actually is. One cardinal, golden rule applying to all kitchens, simple and small or large and fancy is to take every single last item of the refrigerator. Every coupon, picture and magnet must go. A cluttered refrigerator can undo the tidiest of kitchens. If your kitchen has a desk box everything except the most necessary of items up. There is no such thing as organized clutter.
Use fresh natural pot-pourri in all closets. Make sure its all the same scent as too many different scents could clash and make it overwhelming. Fresh flowers from your farmers market or grocery store (it is cheaper there) placed throughout the house will add cheer and beauty. Don’t forget the bathroom! Remove excessive personal items. A few personal pictures are alright but don't overload the house. Allow the buyer to picture their own photos on that mantle.
Bedrooms are often overlooked and hastily put together. While the absence of designer items is never an issue, the bed is the focal point of a bedroom and does set the scene. Some nice new bedding (and it doesn’t even have to be terribly expensive) with some throw pillows will help to add ambiance. Or, if you do not wish to invest in a whole new bedding set but still need to dress up the bed purchase a nice bedcover and a few throw pillows (TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby are great local resources) . A few nice candle stands and co-ordinating candles, and none of the daily clutter on the dresser will additionally help make this room feel welcoming. Some smaller bedrooms can benefit from the removal of items and maybe even pieces of furniture.
As much as possible designate your rooms to one function. Rooms don’t multi-task well when it comes to appearance. Remove the desk from the dining room, the fitness equipment from the bedroom if possible etc. If your computer and desk share the same space as your bedroom the room will immediately say to the potential buyer that the house is short on space and poorly designed. You may have a spare room and just like the convenience of having your desk and PC in your room along with your tv when midnight ideas hit you and that creative urge makes you get up and put it to a disk. But trust us on this, the sale-ability will improve if you remove those items (Alright, you can keep the small TV) to a different room and your insomnia might get better too.
If your teenager has a very individual style which might not be quite mainstream, it is advisable to tone it down for the showing. And even though bead curtains are ‘in' again among the younger generations most adults don't appreciate a faceful of beads when peering into rooms. During the showings try not to have your son's pet Tarantula or bug jar in plain view!
One last thought . . .
Drive through the streets on warm summer months and look into the open garages you see. Many home owners use their garages as catch-alls, stuffed to the rafters with this and that and basements often get a similar treatment. When selling time comes don’t under-estimate the alarm bells that will go off in a potential buyers head when they see a garage stuffed to the gills with odds and ends. To the buyer it will be a matter of concern that they are unable to see and inspect so much of the real estate because it is obstructed and made inaccessible by stuff. A show on Oprah comes to mind which was aired in November of 2007. That was admittedly an extreme case of course. A woman with a hoarding problem had completely made her house inaccessible with her purchased and stored items. When the house was finally cleaned out most of the furniture, carpeting and some walls had to be torn out and replaced because of a severe mold problem. Mold can happen anywhere. And remember you have to sign a mold disclosure statement when selling.
When you get your house ready for selling every part of your house must be clean, accessible and tidy. That includes the attic, basement and garage and any other storage facilities that come with the property.