Even though experts agree that the real estate bubble has popped, and it is now a buyer’s market, sellers can do some simple things to make sure their house shines above the others in that price range. The average home takes forty-seven days to sell. My husband and I sold a home five days after listing it with the realtor, and this was largely because we had it “ready to move” before listing it.
1.Get rid of the clutter. No one wants to buy a house that makes them uncomfortable being in it. The majority of Americans tend to have too much stuff in their houses, and because it accumulates slowly over time, it is easy to grow accustomed to seeing it until we really don’t notice it as much as a stranger would. The first step to attracting a buyer is to get rid of all you can bear to part with, and rent a storage unit for the rest. Don’t make the mistake of storing your extra things in a garage or basement, because buyers will look there, too, and a full garage just makes them think the home is too skimpy on storage places like closets and drawers. Don’t forget to straighten things inside cabinets and closets, too. Put a minimum of things on the kitchen counters. One set of canisters, a green potted plant, and one or two small appliances should be plenty. Remove all magnets from the refrigerator.
2.Do a thorough cleaning. Hire a cleaning service if you can afford to, or do it yourself. We took a day to scrub toilets, sinks, and tubs. We wiped down countertops and cabinet doors. Appliances that were to be included in the sale were cleaned inside, like the stove and refrigerator. We wiped baseboards and door facings, cleaned light fixtures, and made sure to sweep and clean around the entrances. We also cleaned ceiling fans and moped all the floors. We hired a professional to pressure wash the driveway and the outside of the house, but pressure washers can also be rented. Take down curtains and clean them before re-hanging.
3.Take down wallpaper and paint. We took down wallpaper in the rooms that had it, namely bathrooms, and painted all the interior walls a light cream. Neutral colors attract the most buyers. Even though you may love your purple wall in the bedroom, chances are a buyer may not. Buyers like to think whatever color furniture they own will be right at home without having to re-paint.
4.Hire a handyman to do any minor repairs (or major if you have them) before buyers look at your home. We had a garbage disposal that had a slow motor and had to be replaced. Some older light fixtures needed to be replaced. We also had a couple of light switch plates that were yellowed, and we replaced those.
5.Carpets must be clean. If they can be cleaned and all spots removed by steam cleaning, then do that. If not, you really need to replace them. People will not buy a house with other people’s stains on the carpet. Because we had pets, some of our stains would not come out even with cleaning, so we used a coupon from the newspaper to buy some new carpet at a bargain price. It may not last forever, but it sure will look nice for a buyer to have new carpet. One realtor told us that people who put down new carpet sell faster than people who give a carpet allowance, because buyers would rather have the work already done.
6.Stage your home. Take down anything too brightly colored. Rearrange furniture if needed. It helps to have a friend who can give you a neutral opinion on where to move the furniture. Set the table with nice linens. Place out fresh flowers, the kind you buy at the grocery, to save on cost. Put new lightly scented candles in the main rooms of the home. Air fresheners tucked away discreetly can also give the home a nice scent for perspective homebuyers. Just don’t put anything overpowering. Vanilla works nice. During the holidays, use a cinnamon apple or sugar cookie air freshener to give your house that homey feel. Also, if you are listing during the holidays, put up a very minimum of tasteful decorations. No bright colors, white lights only, white or ivory candles, crystal or silver ornaments, etc.
7.Yard work- Make sure all grass is neat and bushes are trimmed. Rake the leaves if necessary. Sweep the walkway, and put out some inviting plants near the entrance if you can afford it. A new brass door knocker and kick plate for the front door are also a nice touch. They say we take pride in our home, and buyers will take that to mean you have taken good care of it.
8.If you have pets, board them during the time the house will be shown, or let them visit a family member or friend for a short time. Even though many people are pet owners, they usually don’t want a home where a pet has lived. (Go figure.) If you have small children, it might be best to leave when the house is going to be shown, but make sure to pick up toys and other items before leaving.
9.Call the realtor. Ask him or her to give you an honest estimate of the house’s value, as well as suggestions for anything he or she sees that might hinder a quick sale. Realtors know the market in their area and what potential buyers are specifically looking for at that time. Take their advice. Make a list and take care of those things promptly that are mentioned. Tell the realtor you want an open house, good advertising for your home, and any other widely used mediums they use in your area to promote their listings. Our realtor was amazed we took his advice. He said, “I tell buyers all the time small things they could fix or do to make the house sell, but then they don’t do them.”
10.Relax. You’ve done your prep work. Now step back and let the realtor do their job. Take some time each morning to put the house in order, and then stay out of the way when buyers come to look. Before long you’ll be on the way to the bank with the money from the sale of your house.
On Day Four after listing, we got three offers. On Day Five, it was sold. Take some time and some elbow grease and get your home sold, too.