First impressions count
Fair or not, first impressions often strongly influence a person’s decision making. So, when is comes to selling your home quickly and for the best possible price make sure you prepare your home to make it a good one.
Declutter and depersonalize
Start packing before you list your house. This will give you an opportunity to declutter and depersonalize your house. It will also make is much easier to keep your home clean. Pack all unnecessary items including any seasonal clothing and personal photographs and children’s toys. Sell or donate anything you do not plan on taking to your new home. Clean and organize all storage areas including closets, cabinets, and garage, to make them appear spacious. Bring order to the kitchen and bathrooms by straightening out what remains in the cabinets and removing most items from the countertops. Potential buyers will look in drawers, cabinets, closets and behind shower curtains. So keep them neat and clean. Find someplace to store your packed items. You can ask your preferred mover if they offer storage for your packed items or rent a storage locker. You may want to enlist your mover’s help before you start packing as they can give you some great packing advice.
Repair and update
You do not have to do any major makeovers but you should have any defects effecting the operation and safety of any of the major systems, such as roofing, electrical, plumbing and HVAC, repaired by a licensed contractor. You can make inexpensive cosmetic repairs yourself. Repair and paint walls that have minor damage. Use light neutral colors to repaint walls that have outdated trendy colors. Have old worn hard-to-clean carpets replaced or offer money toward the cost of replacing. If you decide to replace the carpet use a neutral color. Replace broken tiles and pavers both inside and out. Replace broken door handles, switch plates, cabinet and drawer hardware. Unclog clogged drains and replace kitchen and bathroom faucets that are in disrepair.
Pay special attention to the front and entrance of the house. If it needs it, paint the front door and inspect the hardware. Make sure the lawn is green and the bushes are trimmed. Plant some flowers if the season allows.
About your pets
Your greatest challenge will be your pets. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover and some are allergic. As a matter of fact it is estimated that 25% of the population is allergic to cats. That means one-quarter of potential buyers could have an allergic reaction when touring a house where cats reside. Your best bet is to remove your pets while your house is listed. Find a neighbor or family member who is willing help out. Or hire a pet sitter. Remove all traces of the animals from your home.
Clean and shine
Now that you have all the clutter packed away and the repairs made and the pets safely removed, you should do a thorough cleaning both inside and out. If you have the resources, hire a cleaning company. Clean the windows inside and out. Pressure wash the driveway and walkway. Clean up yard debris, spider webs and wasp nests that are attached to the house.
Time to take the photos
In many instances your first impression will be made on a laptop, tablet, or smart phone. You want the photos to be the best they can be. I have seen photos that make a very bad first impression and clients have reacted accordingly. Don’t kill interest in your home because of bad photography. The listing photos should be taken only after you prep your home. Your Realtor® will either take the photos or arrange a photographer to take the photos. Ask to review them before they are posted. Make sure the photos represent your home in the best possible way. A few things to watch out for:
- photos that are too dark
- vertical smart phone photos that make the home look cramped
- pets in the photo
- low resolution or small photos
- blurry photos
- photos of corners (yes I have seen just corners)
- Photos of just floors (I have seen these, too)
Choose the best photos and leave the bad ones out. Some things, such as a very small bathroom, don’t photograph well but look fine in person. Photos should entice people to see your home in person.
After you list your home
Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door so you must keep you home in tip-top shape. After all, you have worked really hard to get it that way. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.