Selling your home? Congratulations! Now the real work begins. Taking steps to make your home look its best and appeal to homebuyers can be challenging, especially if you don’t know the best ways to prepare it for sale. Here are some pointers to help you spruce up your home, both inside and out, to show it to its best advantage – and change that “For Sale” sign to “Sold.”
A quick tip before you get started: if you live in a condo or HOA community, contact your association board or property management company to find out if any interior or exterior projects violate community regulations.
We’ve all heard the expression, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression” – well, that’s especially true when selling your home. Potential homebuyers may drive past your home or even see photos of it online before they ever ring your doorbell. Is it as well-kept and appealing as it can be?
The outside of your home is the first thing people see, so think about how you can make the most of it. Look at your home with a critical eye. Does the paint look fresh or are any areas peeling? Does your driveway or walkway look dirty or dingy and need to be pressure cleaned or resealed? Does your home’s exterior attract your eye, just like you want it to attract others?
Don’t forget about other exterior details, such as your entranceway, fencing or other details that could add – or detract – from a potential buyer’s decision to choose your house. Even something as simple as repainting an old mailbox or an aging garage door can significantly enhance the look of your home, with a minimal investment in time or money. Though relatively minor in scope, these details are some of the most important aspects of a home sale – they can make or break whether a buyer wants to see what’s beyond your front door.
When you dress for work or a social event, you may choose to accessorize with a watch or some tasteful jewelry to enhance your overall appearance. So why not “accessorize” the exterior of your home to enhance its beauty and appearance? Consider new entrance lamps to illuminate your walkway or freshly painted railings that complement other colors in your home’s exterior. Think about updating hardware such as doorknobs or window fixtures. Even a seasonal display of flowers or plants can soften a home’s façade and add delightful splashes of color. But a word of warning: Don’t overdo it! You want to add style, not create chaos.
Clutter and mess are giant red flags for buyers, so make sure your home’s interior and exterior are neat and well-tended at all times. Regularly cut, water and maintain your lawn to keep the grass green, healthy and weed-free, and be sure all lawn equipment, ladders and other hardware are neatly stowed out of sight, instead of lying in your yard.
Once a potential buyer walks through your front door, the same clutter-free rules apply. A messy home doesn’t show as well as a tidy home – in fact, disorder will make it difficult for a potential buyer to envision ways to personalize the interior of his or her “new” home. Give your home a thorough cleaning and get rid of all non-essentials – just this step alone will make your home seem larger and more inviting. If you are a pack rat, consider renting a temporary storage space to stow extra items until your home is sold, and donate to charity anything you no longer need or want (some organizations, like the Vietnam Veterans of America will even pick up your discards). Rearrange remaining objects neatly and aesthetically to help “decorate” the space.
There are a number of ways to renew and enhance the interior of your house and most are quite easy to accomplish. Do you want to add space and open up a room? Pull your furniture away from the wall and closer to the middle of the room or store some of the bulkier items to create extra space. When was the last time you updated your flooring? Getting rid of old carpet or simply steam cleaning it can make your floors appear clean and fresh. If you have hardwood floors, consider refinishing their surfaces to give them new life. If your tile’s grout looks dated and dingy, you can easily change or brighten the color with grout paint without the time and expense of regrouting.
Do you have aging wallpaper that’s peeling or just looks stale? Get rid of it. You don’t want to make any room appear dated or in disrepair, so adding a new coat of paint in a neutral color is a great way to achieve a fresh look. These are tasks you can knock out in a weekend or two to easily increase your home’s value and selling price.
Foul odors? Forget it. You need to be aware of any lingering smells that can drive potential buyers from your home and quickly take action to eliminate them. First, give your home a good cleaning. This should include wiping down surfaces, sweeping hardwood floors, and vacuuming the carpets. Remove any carpets or rugs that have been ruined by spills, food or pets. Open the windows to let air flow in and freshen the environment. Right before a showing, you light a pleasant-smelling candle, bake some cookies or make a fresh pot of coffee to add a welcoming and comfortable aroma to make buyers feel like they’re already “home.”