Top Must Do’s Before Putting Your Home on the Market
It can be daunting to think about all that you need to do before putting your house on the market, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where you should start. Even if you sort and purge on a weekly basis and are a whiz with a Swiffer, it’s a good idea to take a walk in and around your house and truly look at everything with Buyer’s Eyes.
If it’s broken, fix it!
Homeowners often overlook small things that need to be repaired because they’ve gotten used to their work-arounds. Buyers will notice these items and may begin to worry that the property has not been well maintained, or worse, that there are big ticket repairs that have been ignored. Pay particular attention to broken appliances, running toilets, leaky faucets, windows, outlets, locks, etc. And while you’re at it, buy a bunch of light bulbs. Your house needs to be well lit during showings and that means every light needs to be turned on, including bedside tables and decorative lamps.
This is also a good time to get estimates on anything that might need to be replaced soon, such as built-in appliances, furnace, water heater or the roof. Knowing how much these items cost will help you better negotiate the price and the inspection process.
Do a deep dive into deep cleaning.
There’s a reason for the saying you only have one chance to make a first impression. Make sure your house shines with clean carpets, polished floors, finger-print free walls and doors, sparkling light fixtures, dust-free baseboards and pristine bathrooms and kitchen (fresh towels, please!). Remember to make sure your windows and patio doors are crystal clear and free from hand and nose prints. And speaking of noses, do a smell test because odors, even faint ones from Fido or last night’s fish can turn off buyers. This is a good time to use those coupons for professionals like Molly Maids or Stanley Steamer.
Channel your inner Marie Kondo.
Seriously, this professional organizing consultant has set off a decluttering craze while promising to spark joy in the darkest drawers and closets. Lives and homes have been transformed by her tiny turquoise book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The time is now to pack up or donate your least used-used items such as kitchen and garden tools, exercise equipment (the treadmill is not a coat rack), out-of-season clothes, extra linens, toys and all of those treasures from Home Goods. Declutter with an eye towards depersonalization so that a buyer imagines their life in the house and not yours. And it’s perfectly ok to neatly stack packed boxes in the storage room or garage (just leave enough room so that all of the walls can be viewed by the buyers).
And while you’re looking through all those drawers, closets and shelves, gather up the user’s manuals, warranties and guarantees for everything that will stay with the house. If you’ve had work done to the house, buyers will want to see the permits, receipts, building and architectural plans, engineering reports and surveys.
Get enthusiastic about your curb appeal.
Staging is not limited to the interior of your house. Again, we’re talking about first impressions here. Buyers spend a lot of time on your front walk and porch while they are waiting for their agent to open up the door, and again after the showing when they talk about their experience inside the house. Water, mow and edge more often than you normally would and make sure all bushes and trees are neatly trimmed. Give a drink of water to thirsty plants so that they are upright and happy (a drink for you is ok, too!). If it’s winter, shovel the driveway, walk, porch and decks and knock down icicles. Look all around the house and remove extra landscaping materials, lawn toys, garden decorations (butterflies, gnomes, statues), and for goodness sake, pick up after the pooch! Remember to look at the front door. Fresh paint and beautiful hardware are mighty inviting.
Is there more that you can do? Of course! But if you start with just these 4 things, you are well on your way to wowing buyers from the moment they drive up to your house. If you need additional inspiration, check out my DIY Staging board on Pinterest (Christine Colorado Real Estate).