After looking at potential houses to buy over the last month, it AMAZES me how many people simply don’t get their house ready to sell.
Don’t people realize that I don’t want to see all of their junk? Don’t they realize clutter makes their house look darker and smaller?
If you understand that it’s important to put your best foot forward, here are a few things we did to get our house ready to sell.
One of the first steps you should take when selling a house is decluttering!
We went through all of the rooms in our house and removed everything that wasn’t necessary. We had a large desk and some other large furniture in a few rooms that we sold and gave to Goodwill.
We went through closets and removed a majority of our clothes and shoes – if we weren’t going to keep them we sold them in our garage sale. We removed towels and blankets from our linen closets that we wouldn’t be using, boxed them up, and moved them to the attic.
We removed all personal pictures from the house. Any good realtor will inform you that home-buyers don’t want to walk into a house and see all of your personal belongings. It’s quite psychological, but when somebody walks into a house and there is a bunch of personal belongings everywhere, then the potential buyer often gets the sense that they’re invading somebody’s privacy and they’re unable to picture themselves living in that house.
I often relate looking at new houses to visiting a new hotel. I don’t know about you, but I love walking into a room in a nice hotel the first night that I get there. It feels so clean and fresh. Everything is tidy and in order. There are no pictures, dog toys, or children’s toys lying around. It just feels warm and welcoming.
Isn’t that how you want people to feel when they walk in your home?
The more you declutter the larger your house looks and the more the potential buyer will be enable to envision themselves in “your” home.
2. Wash Down All Walls & Baseboards
If you have children or pets, it’s likely you have markings, drool, or hair that has clung to your walls. Furthermore it’s likely that your walls have collected dust over the years that you’re unlikely to see.
It may sound weird, but dust your walls and then take a wet wash cloth and wash down all of the walls in your house.
3. Paint – Touch Up All Walls, Doors, Door Frames, Decks, and Baseboards
This step is pretty standard and one that you may have already thought of but it’s important nonetheless.
Take a little bit of time and patch any holes with Spackle, and then paint over them as well.
Inspect your doors to see if dirt or hand prints have collected over the years from not using the doorknobs.
Another step that really helped brighten up the appearance of our interior was touching up all of the wood trim and crown molding that we have in the majority of our house. We found this awesome product called Restor-A-Finish that basically made all of the scratches and fading on our trim and cabinets disappear! We had never heard of it before but the interior designer we hired recommended it to us and it worked like a champ!
4. Spruce Up the Curb Appeal
This is another common recommendation you hear when selling your house, but don’t underestimate the importance of this step!
I’m pretty anal with the outward appearance of our home. I’m not sure why, but I enjoy having a freshly manicured lawn. We have a 5-step yearly fertilizing and weed-prevention program that we follow and despite the lack of rain lately our grass is the nicest on the block!
Saying all of that, if you have a yard with dead spots and/or a lot of weeds, I’d suggest that you lay down some seed, fertilize, and work on getting rid of the weeds a few months prior to selling the house. Then, hopefully by the time you’re ready to list your house your lawn is looking healthy!
A first impression is everything and I cringe every time I look at pictures of a home we’re considering buying and see a yard that hasn’t been taken care of. I always wonder, ‘if these people don’t take care of their yard then how well have they taken care of the rest of their house?’
If you’ve ever watched any of the great shows on HDTV then you’ll know that planting flowers is also plays a major role in curb appeal.
If you lack the space for planting additional flowers, consider buying some pots instead of ripping out the old stuff.
5. Declutter again – Kid Style
While we don’t have children, nearly EVERYBODY I know does. Anybody that has been around a family with kids knows that toys pile…and pile…and pile up. I know families that have entire ROOMS dedicated to all of their children’s toys; many of them of which rarely, if ever, get used!
The best suggestion I heard from a couple selling their house was that they gave each of their children 1 large box. The kids were required to go through ALL of their toys and they could keep what was most dear to them…as long as it fit in that box of course.
Whatever was remaining was sold in a garage sale and given to Goodwill.
While this may sound cruel, the catch was that the parents gave the proceeds to their kids and they could buy new toys once the house was sold and they were situated in the new place.
6. Air Out the House
One of our biggest challenges was making sure our house didn’t smell like DOG.
Once you’ve cleaned the house, open up the windows for a few days and let everything air out. We also used some of the Airwick Scented Oil plugins and it really helped eliminate/mask any further odors that may have been looming.
We even had a few people come into our house just to test them to see if they could tell we had a pet. We passed with flying colors.
This step still applies even if you don’t have a pet. Make sure your house smells fresh, but be careful to not overdo it. You don’t want anybody passing out or getting a headache because you went overboard and put fresheners in every room! Those oil plugins are strong!
7. Consider Hiring a Professional
The BEST advice my wife and I received was hiring a professional interior designer and stager to come check out our house when we were getting it ready to sell.
While this may sound expensive we found it to be quite affordable: she only charged us $60 to come out and visit for about 1.5 hours!
We were able to get a professional opinion on our curb appeal, furniture placement, and decorations from an unbiased opinion.
To put things nicely, some people out there have particular tastes and often have things in their home that they think are “nice” or cool. However, you’re certainly biased and you’re trying make your house appear warm and welcoming to the masses (not to you).
After looking at hundreds of homes over the past few months, there is a noticeable difference in the sellers that took time to get their house ready to sell and the ones that just threw it up on the market. Some just scream that they had no idea of what to do when selling a home.
If you want to ensure your house sells as quickly as it’s able and for the highest possible price, then take a few weeks and follow these 7 steps. It may take a little bit of time, but it will certainly be worth it.
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