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Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Tips for getting your home market-ready for prospective buyers.

So you’ve made the decision to sell your home. Now what?

It takes a lot of mental preparation to let go of a space you’ve grown to love, and the process of selling your home can be particularly strange if you are still living in it.

You have to keep your home tidy at all times in order to quickly accommodate your realtor and potential buyers.

Here are some tips that will make your home more presentable to buyers, and also help you prepare to move into your new digs.

  1. Clear out clutter.  If you haven’t touched it within the past year, toss it. You can also donate unwanted items to charity if they’re too good to trash. Pack up things you plan to take with you and get them out of sight. If necessary, rent a storage space.
  2. While you’re cleaning your home for viewers, pack up most of your personal photographs.  They are distracting to potential buyers and this action will help them see the house as their potential home instead of yours.
  3. Keep your kitchen clean.  That means flowers on your table, no dishes in the sink, no junk on the counters, and no finger smudges around cabinet handles. Pack up everything but the bare essentials from the cabinets so that they are tidy too. If a prospective buyer opens a kitchen cabinet and sees too much stuff, they will think the kitchen is cramped.
  4. Keep your closets tidy too. Packing little by little will make your final transition easier. Plus, buyers think a tidy homeowner has also taken good care of the place.  Lining up shoes, and grouping shirts, pants and dresses together in the closet can also make a big impact.
  5. Sometimes the old adage “less is more” applies to furniture in your home.  Move some things to storage if individual rooms are too crowded.  It will make the rooms appear larger.
  6. If there are window treatments, light fixtures, appliances or other “attached” items you plan to take with you, remove them and replace them before showing your home so that the buyer won’t think they are included.
  7. Freshen up paint and make repairs to things such as torn screens, cracked tiles and rotting windowsills before the realtor even puts the sign up. If the realtor sees potential problems like these, he or she might not make showing your home a top priority.
  8. If your daughter’s room is pink, or your living room is painted a bold color, consider repainting it a more neutral color. Depersonalizing your home allows viewers to use their imaginations and visualize your home as their own. Don't let buyers walk away remembering your home as "the one with the orange bathroom."
  9. Lighting is everything, so make sure there are no burned out bulbs inside or outside your home, and make sure you have the most complimentary lighting on when your realtor brings over a client. Overhead lights show too many issues and flaws, but a soft lamp in a corner makes a room seem cozy.
  10. Make the beds, and make them nicely!  Don’t just toss the pillows on--arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  11. Make sure all mirrors, windows, porcelain, faucets and appliances are clean and sparkly!
  12. Dust and vacuum every single surface, including baseboards, ceiling fan blades, and carpet in the corners of stairs and rooms.
  13. Choose a fresh scent that doesn’t smell too much like bleach to clean tiles, tubs and toilets.
  14. Little touches like pulling down all window blinds to the same level and making your front entrance inviting set the tone for the way the rest of the house is viewed.
  15. Outside is as important as inside. Mow grass, trim bushes, and sweep away cobwebs, leaves and dog hair. 
  16. Invest in a potted plant or two to put along your front steps.  You won’t believe what a difference that little touch of curb appeal will make.

Last but not least, do a walk-through pretending you are a prospective buyer. Note the things that would turn you off and then fix them!

Happy selling!

Cindy Friedman December 01, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Thanks , Melissa! (Then call Cindy Friedman @Coldwell Banker; )
jessie December 02, 2012 at 12:48 AM
As a Realtor, I'd have to disagree with most of this, esp # 7. To say that showing a home for any reason would not be priority, would suggest that we inappropriately service only preferred, or easy, clients. I don't. I've always had to work to sell a home ( i have had nearly 100 transactions so far), which allowed me to see that all of this stress on a homeowner isn't necessary. A buyer who can't see themselves in a home because they are pictures, isn't a realistic buyer who would buy your home (the real buyer would see beyond that in a second) ...pulling out a couch &leaving only a love seat in a rm says 2 things-1, that a buyer isn't smart enough to notice &2, the homeowner thinks the space is too small so they're trying to make it appear better (not sending a good message :) & storage fees to boot? Offer 1k for closing costs with an acceptable offer &put your $$ to better use. Either way, I have found a lot of these suggestions are over the top &a good realtor will absorb, not dole out, the stress in a transaction. Price your home correctly &it will sell quickly, even in a down market, at or near list price. Save your $$ for your next home. Selling is stressful enough; surround yourself w a team you trust& an agent w great references & past successes. Be realistic, enjoy the ride! My goal is excited clients at the closing table, not filled w relief or lingering stress at all they had been through. IMO ;)
Andria K December 03, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Good article! Unfortunately in today's market, buyers can be extortionists. Doing as much as you can beforehand actually relieves the sellers stress later.
S.G. December 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM
While all these suggestions seem like common sense, it is surprising how many sellers don't bother to get their houses ready. I remember going to look at houses that were so trashy that we wondered if the sellers were aware that we were coming or if, maybe, they really didn't want to sell. As a retired real estate paralegal I can tell sellers that they may as well make any repairs that they can before putting the house on the market. Problems don't go away.
Joanne Mahaney January 15, 2013 at 05:32 AM
As a local realtor for many years, I'd suggest narrowing down your recommendations to a home owner in preparation to sell. Selling your home can be emotional and stressful at the same time. Be concise, make the changes that are essential to show and market the property, with the least amount of inconvenience to the seller. Sell smarter with Joanne Mahaney!

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