Getting Your House Ready to Sell
Introduction - Emotion vs. Reason
conversing with real estate agents, you will often find that when they
talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase
as a "home." Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to
it as a "house." There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often
an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove
emotion from the equation.
You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this
decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer
to sell your property.
The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to "de-personalize" it.
De-personalize the House
The reason you want to "de-personalize" your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential
home. When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the
wall, it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their
illusions about owning the house. Therefore, put away family photos,
sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put
them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in
the storage unit.
Do not just
put the box in the attic, basement, garage or a closet. Part of
preparing a house for sale is to remove "clutter," and that is the next
step in preparing your house for sale
Remove Clutter, Though You May Not think of it as Clutter
is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally
attached to everything in the house. After years of living in the same
home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the
homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if
you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops,
drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements.
a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out
areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting
defensive. Let your agent help you, too.
kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an
easy place to start. First, get everything off the counters. Everything.
Even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you
use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and
drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to
put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely
get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage, too.
see, homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in
the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their
"stuff." If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed
full, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an
image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as
much "empty space" as possible.
that reason, if you have a "junk drawer," get rid of the junk. If you
have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every
cabinet and drawer. Create open space.
you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or
pantry, begin using them - especially canned goods. Canned goods are
heavy and you don't want to be lugging them to a new house, anyway - or
paying a mover to do so. Let what you have on the shelves determine your
menus and use up as much as you can.
the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area beneath the sink is
as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should
scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale
signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying
are great for accumulating clutter, though you may not think of it as
clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes - things you
rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a
couple of months by putting them in a box, because these items can make
your closets look "crammed full." Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of
"stuff" or other accumulated personal items, too.
people have too much furniture in certain rooms - not too much for your
own personal living needs - but too much to give the illusion of space
that a homebuyer would like to see. You may want to tour some builders
models to see how they place furniture in the model homes. Observe how
they place furniture in the models so you get some ideas on what to
remove and what to leave in your house.
Storage Area Clutter
garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These
areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what
they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential and
take it to the storage area.
Fixing Up the House Interior
Plumbing and Fixtures
your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be
accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones where needed. If you don't buy
something fancy, this can be accomplished inexpensively and they are
fairly easy to install. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are
easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the
washers. It is not difficult at all.
to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains
on any of the porcelain. If you have a difficult stain to remove, one
trick is to hire a cleaning crew to go through and clean your home on a
one-time basis. They seem to be wonderful at making stains go away.
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
all the ceilings for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains,
even after you have repaired the leak. Of course, if you do have a leak,
you will have to get it repaired, whether it is a plumbing problem or
the roof leaks.
You should do
the same for walls, looking for not only stains, but also areas where
dirt has accumulated and you just may not have noticed. Plus, you may
have an outdated color scheme.
can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very
expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not choose
colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to
the widest possible number of buyers. You should almost always choose an
off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and
Carpet and Flooring
your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style
or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet
cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something
inexpensive in a fairly neutral color.
or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on
anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You
want to move. Your goal is simply to have as few negative impressions
upon those who may want to purchase your property.
Windows and Doors
all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a
spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken
windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your
Do the same things with
the doors - make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. If
they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the creak go away.
Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned and
polished to look sharp. As buyers go from room to room, someone opens
each door and you want to do everything necessary to create a positive
those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while
trying to sell your home. You could also purchase an ozone spray that
helps to remove odors without creating a masking odor.
of all kinds create odors that you may have become used to, but are
immediately noticeable to those with more finely tuned olfactory senses.
For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily. There
are also products that you can sprinkle in a layer below the kitty
litter that helps to control odor. For those with dogs, keep the dog
outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling carpet
freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.
Costs of Repairs
not do anything expensive, such as remodeling. If possible, use savings
to pay for any repairs and improvements - do not go charging up credit
cards or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is
also preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything
that will affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for
your next mortgage.
Fixing Up Outside the House
real estate advice tells you to work on the outside of the house first,
but unless there is a major project involved, we believe it is best to
do it last. There are two main reasons for this. First, the first steps
in preparing the interior of the house are easier. They also help
develop the proper mind set required for selling - beginning to think of
your "home" as a marketable commodity. Second, the exterior is the most
important. A homebuyer's first impression is based on his or her view
of the house from the real estate agent's car.
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not,
buy a few bushes and plant them. Do not put in trees. Mature trees are
expensive, and you will not get back your investment. Also, immature
trees do not really add much to the appearance value of the home.
you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant
them. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable
first impression. Do not buy bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will
not mature fast enough to create the desired effect and you certainly
don't want a patch of brown earth for homebuyers to view.
lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of
brown spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should probably
take care of them before working on the inside of your home. This is
because certain areas may need re-soding, and you want to give it a
chance to grow so that re-sod areas are not immediately apparent. Plus,
you might want to give fertilizer enough time to be effective.
Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your
house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a
paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really
spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from
choosing a color, it should not be something garish and unusual, but a
color that fits well in your neighborhood. Of course, the color also
depends on the style of your house, too. For some reason, different
shades of yellow seem to illicit the best response in homebuyers,
whether it is in the trim or the basic color of the house.
for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, replace it.
If you do not replace a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose
it and the buyer will want a new roof, anyway. Otherwise, wait and see
what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?
The Back Yard
back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly
maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to
constantly keep the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or
anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove
them than to leave them in place. They take up room, and you want your
back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially in newer homes
where the yards are not as large.
The Front Door & Entryway
front door should be especially sharp, since it is the entryway into
the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs
refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done.
you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it,
remove it. Even if it is just on the mailbox. You can always put it up
again once you move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something
else you can take with you once you move.
sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer
comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to
unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone
else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first
impression to prospective homebuyers.