A common mistake people make is to spend a lot of money – renovations, new roof, remodeling. While buyers will be impressed with these things, spending $5000 on remodeling will not add $5000 to your sale. Spend as little money as possible, and spend it on cosmetic, readily seen features like interior painting. The time to remodel is when you plan to stay in the house, not when you’re going to sell.
If you think about everything that needs to be done to sell your house, you might throw your hands up in despair, or at least feel some anxiety. Take one step at a time, one small task at a time. Break it down to manageable-sized chores and you’ll have better results.
First things first – have a garage sale. Whatever doesn’t sell needs to be set out for a charitable pickup. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what needs to be done.
This is your first impression, so it had better be a good one.
· Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn regularly. Make sure it’s well watered and reseed any sparse areas.
· Put a bright coat of paint on your mailbox.
· Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.
· Buy a new welcome mat.
· Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible.
· If you have siding or brick, power-wash it. If you have a painted exterior, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.
· Make sure the porch light works.
· Clean and align gutters and downspouts.
· Inspect and clean the chimney.
· If the doorbell doesn’t work, repair or replace it.
· Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
· Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
· Remove oil stains from driveway and garage.
· If you’re selling in the winter, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice. Otherwise, keep the walks and driveway swept.
· Repair broken outdoor steps.
· Spring for some brightly colored potted outdoor flower arrangements for the front yard near the entrance.
· Keep your garage door closed.
· Wash the windows inside and out.
· Store RVs, boats and extra vehicles (anything that can’t be parked in the garage) elsewhere while the house is on the market.
· Paint the front door.
If prospective buyers walk into your house greeted by the smell of cat litter, cigarette smoke, mildew or pet accidents, there is little chance that even a reduced sales price will persuade them to buy. So the first thing to do:
· Clean, clean, clean. This includes walls, floors, inside closets and cabinets – everything. If you must, hire a cleaning service to come in and do the job.
· Get rid of clutter. Put away appliances you normally leave on countertops. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Clean out your closets, garage, basement and attic.
· Paint the walls and ceilings a neutral color – off white or beige.
· Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
· Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
· Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.
· Buy new cabinet knobs and curtains for the kitchen.
· Shampoo all carpets, scrub and wax linoleum, wash and wax wood floors.
· Unclog slowly draining sinks and tubs.
· Clean out the fireplace and lay some logs in it.
· Mend torn screens. Clean out all window tracks.
· Check to see that all windows will open and close.
· Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs.
· Make sure every light switch works.
· Nail down any creaking boards or stair treads (drive two long finishing nails at opposing angles through the floor and sub-floor into the joist).
· Lubricate any squeaking doors
· Remove excess, worn or unattractive furniture.
· Thoroughly clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).
· Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains.
· Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.
· Wash all light switches, handrails and doorknobs.
On Showing Days
· Keep draperies and shades open to let in the light.
· Place fresh flowers throughout the house.
· Have your home well-lit during showing.
· At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.
· Set out colorful, luxurious towels in the bathroom.
· Avoid having dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.
· Keep any toys in the children’s rooms, bikes, wagons and skateboards in the garage.
· Play pleasant music at low volume.
· Spend the day of an open house away from home.
· Leave pets outdoors.
· Unless you’re selling it yourself, let the agent show your house, and don’t tag along.
With all the staging work complete, you are now ready to list and showcase your home. Remember that your willingness to do whatever it takes to prepare your home will greatly affect the price it sells for.