Want to make your home more appealing to potential buyers?
Whether you sell your home yourself or you have a professional Realtor® list it for you, your home is going to need to be prepared to sell. You may think your home looks great and is clean, but to potential buyers, their eyes may be a little more focused. The key thing to remember is that when a buyer enters your home, they want to be able to picture themselves and their family living there. Having your home littered with personal items and pictures takes away from that vision. Not to say you shouldn’t have anything displayed, but keep it to a minimum. We’ll have more on that later.
Forget That It Is Your Home.
Put yourself in the mindset that this is only a house. It is a commodity that is bought and sold. Having too deep of a personal attachment to your property can cloud your judgment and make selling your home very difficult. Families have a lot of great memories in their home, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to disassociate yourself with. But keep in mind that there will be another person or family moving in and creating their own memories, all inside the same house. Plus, you yourself will be moving on to a new place with all new memories to be created.
De-Personalize The Space.
Having a few personal photographs and tchotchkes spread throughout the house is easy for a potential buyer to overlook when viewing your home, but be sure not to overdo it. You don’t want to give potential buyers the impression you’re telling them “This is MY house, MINE!” Over the years, people collect a lot of stuff in their homes. Well, lets be honest… It’s junk! Start with a small room of the house when you start the de-cluttering process. As you go through the items you find inside drawers or on shelves, ask yourself if you really need that item at your new location. Are you able to donate it? Just because you may not have a use for it doesn’t mean someone else won’t want it. Make a donate pile and drop it off at your favorite charity. Take a picture of the items, you may be able to take a tax deduction for charitable contributions based on the worth of the items donated. Here are some other hints:
- Remove most of the books from your bookcases.
- Pack up smaller knickknacks. Large, decorative items should be left out, but sparingly.
- Make sure the kitchen counters are clean and again have only sparse decorative items on the counters.
- For items you will continue using on a day-to-day basis, place them in a storage tub or box so it is easy to stow away in the event of a showing.
- If you’re on the fence about an item, consider what it will take to move it or store it until you do move.
- Neatly stack dishes, cups, pots and pans in the cupboards and cabinets. Buyers will look inside them!
- Hang clothes neatly in the closet. Close hamper lids.
- If shoes are left on closet floors, arrange them in order and facing the same way.
- Deodorize your closet with a spray or scent emitter plug-in.
- Remove the extra leaf in your dining room table to make the room appear bigger.
Because less is more when it comes to showing a home, you may need to consider getting a storage unit to store some of your additional furniture that is not needed or recommended to show the home. You may have a couch and loveseat in your family room as well as your favorite recliner, footstool, and end table with the built in lamp. Consider keeping only the couch and the loveseat in the room. You want the purpose of that room to be quickly conveyed to potential buyers so they aren’t wondering, “What’s this room for?” It is highly recommend you take a look at some New Home Communities in your area and see how these homes are staged. In Alan Schneider’s book “New Home Buying Secrets,” he talks about the attention and care New Home builders take when staging homes in their community:
When a lot of people walk in to a model home, they ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ at the fancy furniture, the travertine tile, the countertops and appliances, and the multi-colored walls. These interiors are designed to elicit that exact emotion. You picture yourself and your family enjoying meals or playing games in that exact house with those exact furnishings. Home builders spend a LOT of money hiring experts to paint and furnish these homes so they look as good as possible. The furniture is often higher end and the knickknacks are placed with the utmost of care and precision.
Don’t stop at just surface cleaning.
- Patch holes in walls.
- Use a product like CLR on faucets and fixtures to ensure water flow is consistent and maximized.
- Apply WD-40 to all door hinges. Even if they don’t squeak now, a slight change in weather can get them going.
- If you have a room with wild colors or wallpaper on the walls, consider painting them a neutral color. Paint is relatively inexpensive and a room can usually be painted in an afternoon.
- Replace burned-out light bulbs.
- Wash windows inside and out.
- Clean your driveway and garage floor to remove any large oil or residue stains.
- Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Clean your refrigerator (they will look inside!).
- Vacuum right before any showings. If you have it, sprinkle carpet deodorizer before vacuuming to get that fresh scent flowing.
- Don’t forget ceiling fans and light fixtures.
- Put out fresh towels and hang them evenly.
- Place seasonal flowers in the front yard. These are relatively inexpensive and only need to last long enough for you to sell your house.
So, you think your house is ready to show?
Take a walk around your property as if you were a potential buyer seeing it for the first time. Check out the yard, the side of the house, and the condition of the landscaping. Does it look good to someone seeing it for the first time? You may also ask your neighbors to take a look as well to see if they have any ideas. They should be more than willing to help, after all the better looking your house is the more money it may bring in, thus helping the remaining neighbors achieve better comps.
Now take a look at the inside. Compare to other homes you’ve looked at, especially the New Home Communities if you had a chance. Is your home warm and inviting? Does it smell alright or is there a lingering odor? Walk into each room as if you didn’t know what it was and see if you can immediately determine it’s use fro their point of view.
If you need additional help or are looking for more resources to assist you in staging your For Sale By Owner property, check out “301 Simple Things You Can Do to Sell Your Home Now and For More Money Than You Thought: How to Inexpensively Reorganize, Stage, and Prepare Your Home for Sale”.