You do not need to spend a lot of money on costly renovations or major remodeling jobs when you are getting your home ready to sell. While buyers will be impressed with these things, the money you spend on remodeling will not add an equal amount of value to your home. The time to remodel is when you plan to stay in the house, not when you are going to sell.
So what should you do to prepare your home? The five steps outlined below incorporate all of the essentials and can serve as your guide. By breaking down tasks into manageable-sized chores, you can achieve your goals efficiently. Better yet, call on me to customize a checklist specifically for your needs and let me help you through the process.
Remember that when a potential buyer sees your home for the first time, their first impression stays with them. Make sure it is a good one!
Everyone will tell you that the first thing to do is have a garage sale. This is true, but you must first decide what to keep and what to let go of. Choosing which possessions to keep, which to sell, which to give to charity and which to dispose of responsibly can be a major undertaking, but the benefits of decluttering outweigh the hassle involved. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what needs to be done; not only because there will be less "stuff" around, but also because your mindset will be more attuned to details. For those who want to take decluttering to the next level, I recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
Decluttering is one of the most important and least expensive projects that you can do to prep your house for sale, so make sure to take advantage of the opportunity before you put your house on the market!
2. Curb Appeal & Exterior
Take a good look at the curb appeal and exterior of your house. Your home should be inviting, enticing potential buyers to come inside and explore the interior.
If you have a lawn, edge, mow and fertilize regularly. Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house, and add colorful, potted flowers to the front yard near the entrance. A freshly painted front door adds the finishing touch.
Be sure to check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible. If you have a siding or brick exterior, power-wash it. If you have a painted exterior, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.
3. Interior Repair
Now is the time to make sure that all of the plumbing, appliances and systems are working and in good repair. Making repairs now can cut down the time your house will be on the market. It is relatively easy to fix dripping faucets and unclog slow-draining sinks so do not put off making these repairs; show your house in its best light. Other chores to add to your checklist are: lubricating squeaking doors, ensuring every light switch works, checking that all windows open and close, and repairing or replacing the doorbell if it doesn't work. The goal is to make your home move-in ready. Buyers do not like to be faced with a multitude of little chores when they move in.
Neutralizing your home means more than painting the walls and ceilings a neutral color – typically off white or beige. Neutralizing also means removing any items from the home that could act as distractions to a potential buyer when viewing your home. For example, it might be advantageous to put into storage very dated or eccentric decor, furniture or artwork.
And don't forget to neutralize any odors that might be lingering in your home. Unpleasant pet smells or heavily perfumed scents can be equally unappealing. Ask a friend for an honest opinion.
5. Spring Clean & Stage
Now that you have decluttered, upped your curb appeal, made necessary repairs and neutralized your home, it is time to spring clean! That means from top to bottom and the windows inside and out. This includes walls, floors, inside closets and cabinets – everything. Make sure you wipe your lightbulbs too; you will be amazed at how much brighter this can make a room. Shampoo all carpets (or replace them if they are very worn), scrub and wax linoleum, and wash and wax wood floors. If you must or if you prefer, hire a cleaning service to come in and do the job for you.
When your home is perfectly clean, there is one last thing to consider - staging. Staging can vary from finishing touches that you can do yourself, such as arranging a reading corner complete with an open book and reading glasses placed on a side table, to hiring a staging company that will completely transform your home with their own furniture, artwork and decorative touches. The choice is up to you.
Once you have made it through these five steps, you can congratulate yourself. Your home is ready to sell!