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Preparing Your House for Sale
It’s time to move on. Now that you’ve made the decision to sell your house, you will need to view your home in a different light – as a marketable commodity.
The first steps in getting your house ready for the market are to depersonalize and de-clutter. Warm, clean, simple, spacious, well lighted and neutral – a home with these qualities will have the most appeal to potential buyers.
Make Your Home Anonymous
Transforming your home into an anonymous house will help interested parties to view it as their potential home. Too many personal items can inhibit a potential buyer’s ability to picture themselves as the new owner. A few decorative items or photographs on tables are fine. Buyers must be able to imagine their own family in the home.
De-cluttering the House
If you’re like most people, you have probably accumulated a few items over time. Clutter does affect the way buyers see the home so you’ll need to clear up as much space as possible. It’s good to take a step back and envision yourself as a buyer. How do the shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garage, attic, and basement look? Ask a friend for their opinion of how your house looks … and don’t be offended by their answer!
De-cluttering starts with your front yard. A mowed, edged lawn with trimmed shrubs and mulched flower beds is pleasing to the eye. Never have empty pots or dead plants sitting around. Coil hoses, and place any toys or tools inside the garage. Dried wreaths may be used on doors in winter, for a simple focal point.
If your house looks tired and faded, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and can easily spruce up the appearance of a house. It can also add dollars to offers from potential buyers. Choose a colour that suits the style of the house and fits well in your neighbourhood. If a paint job isn’t required, consider power washing to remove stains, spider webs and other debris.
A first impression is critical and shapes a potential home buyer’s mind throughout the showing. First, invest in a new welcome mat if your current one is tired. If your front door needs attention, a fresh coat of paint or stain will make a huge difference. Make sure the door locks work easily and keys fit properly. Keep the foyer clear of shoes, coats, or excess items on the walls. Create a single focal point in the entrance with an attractive table or painting.
It’s important that your home is appealing when potential home buyers first walk in the door, including its scent. If you smoke, you should do so outdoors while trying to sell your house. Be sure to take the garbage out regularly, especially before a showing. Upholstery and carpeting should be professionally cleaned and deodorized to eliminate any lingering odour.
Pets are loveable, but they do come with odours. If you are a cat owner, be sure to clean kitty litter boxes daily. There are products available that help control litter box odour. For dog owners, keep the pooch outdoors as much as possible. During showings, it would be best to have a relative or trusted friend take care of your dog and/or cat.
The scent of fresh baked bread or an apple pie is especially appealing and can create a warm feeling of home. If the weather is nice, don’t be afraid to open your windows and allow fresh air to flow throughout the home. Fresh cut flowers or mild scented candles strategically placed can also add to the ambience of the home.
The kitchen is an active area of the house and should look as inviting as possible. Clear the counters completely, adding back a few decorative items. Remove notes or photos from the refrigerator. Organize your pantry with everything facing forward, removing excess food and containers. If you’re limited in space to begin with, box up some items that are rarely used, and put them in storage. During showings, potential home buyers often open kitchen cabinets and drawers so try to create as much open space as possible. If your kitchen needs a lift, something as simple as new cabinet handles can provide an inexpensive makeover.
It is important to add a touch of elegance or romance to bathrooms. You can decorate with fresh soaps, flowers, bowls, photos, or designer bath items. Add a new set of towels, folded carefully for showings, and have a separate hand towel for daily use stored in the lower vanity. Remove any toilet brushes or bathroom cleaners that may be visible. Place toothbrushes, razors, medications or other daily use personal items in a container and store in a cabinet.
Bedrooms should appear restful and serene. Sparsely furnished is best. Use your best covers, or purchase new ones if yours are worn. Bedside tables should be free of clutter, with only a few books or nice items. Bedside lamps add a warm ambience for showings. If curtains are old, remove them and clean the windows for a fresh look. Blinds should be cleaned or replaced. Children’s bedrooms usually need to be simplified. Take down posters and box up toys.
Closets often contain extra clothing and shoes that are rarely worn. If you haven’t used certain items of clothing for 2 years, consider donating them to a local charity. It is important for potential homebuyers to see closets as spacious rather than filled to capacity. If you find you aren’t sure about parting with some items, create a ‘maybe donate’ box, and place it in storage.
Excess furniture in a room almost always has a negative impact on the comfort you will experience in that room. Never allow furniture to block windows, doorways, or traffic patterns through rooms. Wires should not cross traffic areas. Choose one or two elements as the main points of interest in a room, such as wood floors, a view, or a nicely made bed.
Basements, garages, attics, and sheds should be as empty as possible so that potential buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Be sure to remove any non-essentials and place them in storage. Consider holding a garage sale to purge the home of items no longer needed. It’s liberating!
Painting makes a home look fresh and new on the inside and can be your best investment for a seller. Always choose colours that will appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. Light, neutral colours make rooms appear bright and spacious. Be careful not to ‘genderize’ a room by making it completely pink or completely blue. Painting can be an effective and inexpensive upgrade, giving a home a fresh look.
Plumbing and Fixtures
When prospective home buyers view a house, they try the light switches, pull on handles, turn on faucets, all the while taking mental notes of how things feel. Go through your home and note what items need attention. Shiny fixtures make an impression, so if this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, purchase new ones. Porcelain should be free of stains, and all hot and cold water knobs should be easy to turn. If faucets leak, be sure to replace the washers.
Carpet and Flooring
Unless your carpet appears old, worn or outdated, a good deep cleaning may be all that’s needed. If you choose to replace carpets, go for a neutral colour. Fix or repair floor tiles, if necessary.
The minor renovations mentioned above will make a difference in how your home shows, and will allow you to ask a higher listing price in most situations.
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Perhaps your house requires more work than what has been suggested. Should you invest the money in renovating? Or should you sell the home as a fixer-upper for the next owner? After all, some buyers are looking for an opportunity to renovate a home…
Are more extensive upgrades needed in your home? See the article Renovating To Sell or give us a call today to discuss your home renovations.