Selling your home can be a daunting endeavor, and once you make the decision to sell, you want to be as prepared as possible for the moment your home hits the market. Just as you’ll need to prepare yourself financially and emotionally for the sale, you’ll want to prepare your home as well. A home that is well-staged for showings has an enormous advantage over one that isn’t properly prepped to appeal to potential buyers. And the bonus is that the effort you put into organization now can reap benefits when you are faced with packing up and moving.
Here are a few things you need to do when you make the decision to put your house on the market:
• De-clutter! It can’t be said enough that a home without clutter is worlds more appealing to a potential buyer than a home filled with the current owner’s bric-a-brac. Consider renting a storage unit to house all of the accumulated treasures in your attic, closets, garage, and basement. Now would be the time to donate old clothing and housewares to the Salvation Army or another charitable organization. You can also consider holding a yard sale or selling items that you no longer need via Craigslist or eBay – just be sure that you exercise caution when selling to someone you don’t know.
• Downsize. How many end tables do you have in your living room? Does your home look overcrowded with furniture? Remember that rooms that are too crowded lose the air of spaciousness that a more sparingly decorated room can impart. Again, you can store extra furniture in a storage unit or with a family member or friend – you may want to hang on to extra pieces, especially if you’ll be moving to a larger home.
• Repair. Homes are lived in, and there are sure to be spots in any home that reflect that wear and tear. Now is the time to touch up paint (or re-paint; think about changing over to soft, neutral colors that will appeal to a buyer’s vision of a space as his or her own). Make sure that you fix leaky faucets, replace nonfunctioning light bulbs, and tighten any loose pulls on cabinets and drawers. Oil squeaky hinges, replace dilapidated fixtures, and make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are equipped with fresh batteries.
• Clean. If you’ve never used a professional cleaning service, now might be the time to make the investment. Make sure windows are clean, both inside and out. Carpets should be vacuumed or steam cleaned and floors swept and polished. Bathrooms and kitchens are often a major focus or a potential buyer, so keep these areas sparkling and you’ll be ready for even a last-minute showing. Empty wastebaskets daily and keep trash and recycling out of sight.
• De-personalize. Our photographs and souvenirs not only represent our memories, but they make our homes truly our own. However, the key to selling your home is to remember that you need to appeal to someone else. A potential buyer is going to be thinking about how your space could become his space, and he’ll want to imagine his own photos and mementos in your house. Stowing these items away while your house is on the market might decrease the amount of time you spend waiting for an offer. Likewise, stash personal items like toiletries and medicines out of sight. Any pets should be removed to another location during showings.
• Style. Adding gracious touches will make your home seem more welcoming. Lighting levels should be bright and hospitable, and strong or unpleasant cooking smells should be eliminated – although the smell of freshly baked cookies or bread can evoke a “homey” feel. Healthy house plants are attractive, as are bowls of fresh, ripe fruit, but these touches can do more harm than good if they aren’t looking their best. Fluffy towels add warmth to bathrooms, and clean, non-fussy bedding doesn’t distract from a bedroom. Professional home stagers advise clients about how to make their homes the most attractive to guests and potential buyers. Be your own stager. There are plenty of websites with tips on staging your home for sale.
If getting your home ready for sale seems like a challenge, remember that it can go a long way toward your overall organization. Moving to a new home provides an excellent opportunity to examine your possessions, eliminate items you no longer need or use, and streamline your life. Even better, it can be a pathway to a faster sale of your home.
Lillian Montalto Signature Properties
34 Park Street, Suite One
Andover MA 01810