Preparing your home for sale can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you’ve lived there for a long time. When preparing your house for sale, it’s important to consider all aspects from the point of view of a potential buyer to maximize positive first impressions.
Here, we’ve compiled a guide for homeowners (approved by a real estate agent) on the most important things to consider doing to best prepare your home for showings.
The same principles apply if you are preparing your home for listing photos to attract a quick and easy sale and make your house sparkle.
It’s unbelievable how much ‘stuff’ one person can accumulate over the years, never mind a house full of shoppers! Common reasons for holding onto things include emotional attachment, waiting to pass them on to others, or an intention to fix or reuse an item ‘one day’.
When it comes to many things accumulated over a long period of time, though, it’s fairly safe to say you probably don’t need them if it hasn’t been used in a year or more.
Putting your house for sale and moving can be a mammoth task and the less you have to pack and unpack, the better. Discard whatever clutter you can in a meaningful way by donating them to a charity. For any items that aren’t accepted, you can inquire as to whether there are town services that will collect them, or simply take a trip to the local refuse site.
Whatever you can’t bring yourself to part with, organize and tidy away, leaving countertops clear and furniture like bookcases free of clutter and knickknacks.
Presenting a clean, impersonal environment is what real estate agents say gives people the best chance of envisioning it as their own during house showings. With a fresh canvas free of any hints of someone else living there, their imagination can get to work visualizing the space filled with all of their own photographs, art, and furniture.
It could be harder for a buyer to visualize their own items of furniture in a space filled with distracting statement pieces.
So to prepare your home to sell, remove your family heirlooms, scattered toys, family photos from the dining room etc, and any other personal belongings that could distract potential buyers. Pack them away and get them ready for moving.
Declutter key areas like the living room and basement, only leaving pieces of furniture that are understated wherever possible.
3. Rent a storage unit
This may not be necessary, but for some, it could be well worth considering. In most cases, homes show better when they contain less furniture. If you have a lot of furniture, it may be worth storing some of it away. Remove items that encroach upon walkways, as well as any distracting furniture, empty bookcases, or other non-essential furniture items.
To sell your home quickly and for the best price, leave just enough furniture and items to display the purpose of the room, while creating plenty of space for buyers to move around.
4. Organize your cupboards
Buyers will want to see what storage space is available in their potential new home, so it’s important to be prepared for them to look inside. If your home looks delightfully clutter-free, then you don’t then want a mountain of stuff cascading from your closets when they try to have a peek.
If you minimize and organize your storage space and closets, then it not only looks appealing to the buyers, but it also sends a message that you like to take care of your things and therefore are more likely to have taken good care of your house.
In the kitchen, stack dishes neatly, alphabetize your spice jars and have the cup handles all facing the same way. For closets, line your shoes up neatly and hang or fold everything away.
5. Repair what you can
Unless you are dealing with a strong market for sellers, leaving scuff marks and minor repairs undone can cost you a sale.
While your capabilities and budget may only stretch so far, do the options you can to improve the condition of your home. Replace cracked tiles and patch up any holes in the walls. Fix doors that don’t close properly, kitchen drawers that jam, and any other noticeable faults like leaky faucets.
Replace old light bulbs to avoid having one blow during a showing. Also, consider giving some walls a fresh coat of paint with neutral colors to freshen them up, particularly if they are currently an extreme color or there are repairs that need finishing properly. You want to exude a sense of calm, and as clean a canvas as possible.
6. Brighten it up
When preparing for a viewing, open up all of the curtains and blinds and let as much natural light in as you can. And, unless the temperature outside says otherwise, open the windows up and let the breeze flow through. Also, consider adding lamps to any dull rooms to brighten them up, and fresh flowers on the dining room table.
7. Clean to a sparkle
This may require you to either bring in a professional cleaning service or commit to a lot of elbow grease. Nothing says ‘ready for new owners’ like a house that sparkles with cleanliness. This includes
- cleaning windows inside and out as well as the tracking,
- recaulking bathtubs, sinks, and showers,
- pressure-washing the exterior of the house, pathways, and even sidewalks,
- and polishing up mirrors and any chrome fittings until they gleam.
Try to stay on top of this cleanliness by regularly vacuuming all rooms, dusting, and waxing floors, and keeping the kitchens and bathroom spotless. Avoid cooking anything particularly odorous the night before a showing - smells from foods like fish and garlic can linger for several days. Ensure that pet smells are kept under control, particularly by keeping their litter boxes clean. Lastly, always keep the toilet seat down when it’s not being used and invest in air fresheners, candles and chic soft furnishings like throw pillows.
8. Bring the outdoors in
Potted plants and a few pretty flower displays can really bring some life and energy into a room, draw attention to features you want homebuyers to notice, or simply fill in any empty corners. Just make sure that the plants you choose are in good health and free from bugs!
9. Remove your favorite items
If you are planning to take any fitted items with you, such as certain appliances, fixtures, or window coverings, for example, remove and/or replace them ahead of a viewing. If a stunning antique light fitting is a family heirloom that will be leaving with you, you don’t want to leave it for the buyers to see and request that it’s included.
You can, of course, say no, but that’s what you want to avoid. Telling a buyer that they can’t have something that enhances the appeal of your home isn’t ideal, and could even lose you the sale.
10. Boost curb appeal
First impressions matter and it's all too easy to focus so much on the interior that you forget that the exterior of your home is the first thing a potential buyer sees on a home inspection. Weed your flower beds, trim your bushes, repair any cracked or peeling paint and clear your walkways. It's also advised by real estate agents to give your front door a lick of paint; in a tough market, first impressions are vital for potential buyers. Simple touches like adding a row of potted plants can make a considerable difference.
Lastly, take a walk through your home, starting from the street, and consider every aspect from the point of view of a buyer during the sales process. It’s surprising what you might notice when you imagine viewing your property or investment property through fresh eyes.
To conclude, speak to real estate professionals and follow these steps and home buyers will be able to imagine themselves starting afresh in your home. Hey - you may even have a bidding war on your hands!