If you are thinking about selling your home, one of the best things you can do is improve the overall impression of your home.
First impressions are lasting. A well presented home says, “welcome”. Often, simple cosmetic changes can be made with minimal time and expense to increase the value of your property. Your home will be just one of many on the market at any given time. In order to stand out above the competition, you’ll need to present your home as uniquely appealing as possible. Our experience shows that sellers who make this extra effort are awarded with a quicker sale and in many cases, a higher price.
The first step is to walk through your home with the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired or tossed. Ask yourself, if you were buying this home, what would you want to see, or not see?
- Mow and trim grass; re-seed and fertilize where necessary
- Prune all overgrown trees and shrubs
- Weed flower beds. Remove or replace dead/diseased plants, shrubs and trees.
- Clean grease and oil stains from the driveway, if it is gravel, add gravel where needed
- Add flowers to dress up the yard, walkways and patios
- All hoses, garden equipment and firewood should be neatly out of sight
- The mailbox should be painted, repaired or replaced if necessary
- Highlight your pool area, water garden or koi pond with lighting, benches, planters, and/or flowering pants
- Pro Tip: Create an outside living/dining area with furniture and plants, if possible
- Pro Tip: Take pictures of your flowering, mature landscaping early in the year if you are planning to sell your home between late fall and early spring and display them in your home during winter months
- Clean up pet droppings
- Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the house should be kept uncluttered, swept and in good condition
- Paint or stain worn areas on wood decking
- Remove grass growing in concrete cracks; sweep off debris from shrubs and trees
- Clean all deck railing and make sure they’re secure; replace missing slats or posts
- Outdoor furniture should be kept clean and/or repainted if necessary
Exterior of Home:
- Remove peeling and chipped paint; replace with a fresh coat of neutral paint
- Fix loose trim
- Clear gutters and downspouts
- Verify all exterior lighting is working properly and clean
- Clear garage of clutter and tidy shelving
- Make sure the garage door opens easily
- All roof shingles, tiles, etc. should be secured or replaced. If the roof leaks, fix it!
- Shades and awnings should be in good condition; replace if the color has faded
- Power wash exterior siding and vinyl
- Have furnace and AC unit professionally cleaned or tuned up
- Clean the front door area of all debris, cobwebs and bugs
- Polish or replace front door hardware; make sure the door is easy to unlock and open
- Clean the glass of the storm door
- Ensure doorbell is working
- Pro Tip: Add a fresh coat of paint to all exterior doors
- Clean all windows, inside and out; make sure they all open and close easily
- If needed, add a fresh coat of paint to window trim and sills
- If windows are cracked, fogged or has broken seals, repair or replace as needed
- Replace any screens that have holes, are torn or are missing
Throughout the home:
- Regardless of the season, it’s time for a Spring Clean! Clean everything in your home from top to bottom; all floors, carpets, walls, trim, light fixtures and cabinetry should be sparkling clean
- Remove all pet, smoke, and hobby odors
- Replace burned out light bulbs
- Pro Tip: Install higher wattage light bulbs to show your home brightly, in it’s best light
- Declutter all rooms to create the impact of spaciousness
- Remove any prescription medication, jewelry, bills, checkbooks, passports and other valuables from the home or place in locked safety deposit box
- Pro Tip: Give walls and trim a fresh coat of neutral paint. This will brighten the home and make it appear newer and larger.
- Pro Tip: Buyers buy a lifestyle, not a house. Keep some personal items so it feels like a home
- Repair cracks and holes in walls and ceilings
- Make sure all wallpaper is secure
- Curtains should be fresh, clean and attractive
- Steam-clean all carpeting and rugs before showing and vacuum daily. If the carpet doesn’t clean well, consider replacing it with a neutral alternative
- Position the furniture to showcase the size, space and possible use of the room
- Remove and replace any attached items, such as lighting fixtures and drapes, that you wish to move with you
- Improve traffic flow through every room and create a feeling of spaciousness by removing any toys, hobby supplies, unnecessary furniture, knick-knacks, extra magazines and books
- Re-caulk windows and countertops if it’s cracked or not clean
- Remove posters, adhesives and nails from walls and doors, and repair any holes resulting from nails
- Stabilize and secure all stairway handrails and banisters
- Repair any doors, closet doors, cabinet doors and drawers so that they open with ease
- Remove any excess extension cords and exposed wires
- Replace all air filters
- Drain or flush water heater
- Clean entryway floors and area rugs
- Remove clutter in the entry and entry closet to give the appearance of spaciousness
- Double-check entry lighting to make sure it works
- Pro Tip: Invest in a new front door mat
- Pro Tip: Create the feeling of a spacious entry area by using decorating accents, mirrors and/or rugs
- Make sure countertops, grout and sinks are clean and stain-free
- Replace grout if needed
- Fix dripping faucets
- Organize pantry and cupboards so they appear clean, neat and spacious
- Clean out the refrigerator and freezer and make sure they are free of odors
- Remove all grease and stains from range hoods, oven, stove top, backsplash, walls, etc.
- Pro Tip: Set the scene by setting the kitchen and dining room tables
- Pro Tip: Expand your counter space by removing small appliances
Living / Family / Dining Rooms:
- Clean dirt and ashes out of the fireplace and keep it clean in the winter
- If you have numerous family photos, put them away until your home is under contract. Perspective buyers will feel more like it can be their home if they are not aware of your family photo memories
- Try to avoid creating a sterile looking environment by adding a couple of colorful accents
- Add new throw pillows, blanket or other decorative accents to stage the home
- Pro Tip: If you have a fireplace, highlight it in your decorating
- Neatly make all beds and make sure the linens and curtains are fresh and clean
- Straighten, tidy and remove unnecessary items from all closets
- Pro Tip: Remove half of the clothes and shoes in all closets, making the buyer feel as if there is ample closet space
- Depersonalize children’s rooms and add neutral decor
- Laundry hampers should be hidden in the closet and out of sight
- Put away everything on dressers/nightstands except a few books, an alarm clock and a lamp
- Pro Tip: Create a master suite effect in your decorating and staging
- Clean all sinks, tubs, showers, countertops and grout
- Repair any leaky faucets
- Remove stains from grout in tile
- Repair or replace broken grout, tiles on walls, floors or in showers or tubs
- Make sure all fixtures, heat lamps & exhaust fans are operating
- Pro Tip: Install new shower curtain and purchase matching towels and rugs
- Pro Tip: Countertops should be completely clear of clutter. All supplies, toilet paper, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, cleansers, etc. should be stored in the cabinetry or closet.
- Organize and declutter cabinets and linen closet
- Toilet should be clean and stable; repair or replace if needed
Basement / Attic / Crawl Space / Garage:
- Check for water intrusion, dampness or structural damage; call for professional repairs if necessary
- Make the attic as pleasant as possible by airing it out and decorating it, if possible
- Clean or paint the basement walls and floor
- Remove all unnecessary items from the attic, basement, crawl space, garage, tool shed and storage area
- If there is a musty odor, remove the odor and consult a professional about the potential cause
- Pro Tip: Any items you’ve removed from the home can be placed in boxes or bins and neatly stacked in one of these locations. Make sure all of the walls can still be seen by prospective buyers and their inspectors.
Selling not Showing
When preparing your home for a showing, remember that this will no longer be your home, but the buyer’s new home! Have you ever walked into a new construction model home, a vacation home or a hotel and instantly relaxed? Everything is sparkling clean, perfectly placed and staged. A prospective buyer is more than likely needing to move up to a new home because their current home is too small or does not continue to meet their needs. We want to show your home in the best possible light.
Here are a couple of key points to keep in mind when going through this list:
Less is More!
While you’re cleaning, think about each room and what type of furniture really needs to be in it. Each room should have one purpose only (for example, choose a dining room or office).
Repairs can make a big difference!
Make sure that all known repairs are completed. Even if it’s a simple repair, if it’s not fixed prior to showing your home, it gives the feeling of deferred maintenance, as in, “If this small thing is broken, what else is wrong with the house?”
Let the Sun In!
Let in plenty of light. Light improves the atmosphere more than anything else.
If it’s warm outside, turn the air down so it feels cold and refreshing when they walk in. If it’s cold outside, make sure they feel warmth when they enter. Pro Tip: Have cold water or hot coffee on the counter, depending on the weather.
Showings / Inspections
Time to leave! Avoid staying in the home any time the buyer and their representative will be at the home. This is their time in the home to thoroughly look through it and ask all of their questions. Buyers sometimes feel shy to ask their agents their questions if you are present.
Keep it Quiet
As a general rule, it’s best to have all TV’s, radios, etc. turned off during showings. Also, do your best to remove all pets, even if they are friendly. Let the buyer and agent talk, free of distractions.
- Open the blinds, drapes and pull up the shades to let in the sunlight
- Turn on all lights day or night
- Remove all clutter from each room to visually enlarge them
- Empty all trash cans
- Keep home dusted and vacuumed at all times
- The kitchen should always be kept spotlessly clean
- Air out your home one half hour prior to showing if possible
- Have a family ‘game plan’ to get the home in order quickly if necessary
- Pro Tip: If you have small children, have a bag packed by the front door of everything you will need if you have to leave quickly for a showing
- Lightly spray the main rooms with air freshener so that it has a chance to diffuse before the buyer arrives
- Have one continuous air freshener (less is more) in the home
- Microwave a small dish of vanilla twenty minutes before the showing and place it in an out of the way place in the kitchen
- Make all beds
- Clean all bathrooms, wipe down all surfaces and remove any used towels
- Pro Tip: Put out fresh towels in bathrooms and add decorative soaps for showings
- Pro Tip: Purchase stark white bedding and towels for showings
- Open doors to areas you want the potential buyer to see, such as walk-in closets, pantries, attic, basement, etc.
- Arrangements should be made to remove pets during showings
- Have a place to hide pet beds, litter boxes, toys and food containers during showings