How to get Your Home Ready to Sell

Here are 10 top tips for getting your house ready to sell.

1. Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.

  • Say to yourself, "This is not my home; it is a house -- a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.
  • Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
  • Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!
  • Say goodbye to every room. And even thank the house for the security and good times you had there.
  • Don't look backwards -- look toward the future.
  • If you're spirtual, literally walk through your home and say 'goodbye and thank you'.

2. De-Personalize.

Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can't see past personal artifacts, and you don't want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here." Clean off dresser tops, refrigerators and remove walls of photos. Take down religious pictures, icons or photos too. Your religion is special and personal to you. We like to say, "Make your home interior look like a hotel suite. Very little of anything up, anywhere."

3. De-Clutter!

  • People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven't used it in over a year, you probably don't need it.
  • If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away? How many toys do your kids need?
  • Remove most books from bookcases. Rent a POD and get 50% of what's in the home out to storage. Really.
  • Pack up knickknacks and collections. The 'Star Wars Return of the Jedi' collection does not sell a home.
  • Organize liquor cabinets or remove the liquor altogether. And, too many religious icons in the house may make buyers uncomfortable.
  • Clean off everything on kitchen counters. Only one or two items should be on the counter-maximum.
  • Pack up winter clothes in summer, and visa versa. Skis and ski boots aren't appropriate by the back door in the Summer.
  • Clean the darned garage and try and remove stains on the concrete under your cars in the driveway and in the carport/garage areas.
  • Take out half of what you have in closets. Older homes have small closets anyway so make them look better by removing debris.
  • Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.

4. Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.

  • Buyers snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if they see everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:
  • Alphabetize spice jars if you have a lot of them. Organize food pantries and cabinets. You don't need all those extra pots and appliances.
  • Neatly stack dishes. If you have too many, store the rest or give them to a worthy cause.
  • Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way. Kinda OCD but it's the little subliminal things that make an impression.
  • Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction. Even color code them.
  • Line up shoes and pack away the ones you won't be using this season.

5. Rent a Storage Unit.

Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don't want buyers scratching their heads and saying, "What is this room used for?"

6. Remove/Replace Favorite Items.

If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now if possible. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down and put in a new fixture. If a buyer never sees it, they won't want it. Once you tell a buyer they can't have an item, they will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.

7. Make Minor Repairs.

Even have a home inspector 'pre-inspect' your home in advance. Giving a buyer a pre-inspection report makes them happy!

  • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
  • Patch holes in walls.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam. Updating old drawer handles, 'globe' light fixtures and door handles is pretty inexpensive and is a subtle upgrade that adds to the overall impression.
  • Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.
  • (Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home as "the house with the orange bathroom.")
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs inside and out of the home. Some showings are at night!
  • If you've considered replacing a worn bedspread, do so now. Match pillow coverings to the spread. If the room is too plain, add a few colored accent pillows.
  • If you want, get your own home inspection-we can recommend many inspectors. Might as well find out if there are any deal breakers in your mechanical systems before you go to market, go under contract and then lose a buyer. Have your sewer line scoped-the most expensive repair you can never imagine. Buyers will not only have a home inspector come through your home, they may also have it tested for Meth and Radon, too. You can have all the buyers tests done in advance of marketing your home so that you make the purchase very painless for the new buyer.

8. Make the House Sparkle!

  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Rent a pressure washer and spray down steps and exterior.
  • Clean out cobwebs. They lurk around water heaters and furnace rooms. Wipe off your water heater and furnace.
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks. If you don't know how, get a professional as bad caulking looks terrible. Old bathtubs may have stains. Try a pumice stone-it works beautifully on tub surfaces.
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors. If that vanity in the bathroom is dated, they are really inexpensive to replace.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Vacuum often.
  • Wax floors.
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures. Buyers often look at 'eye level' so make the front door, entry, screen, lights and house numbers shine.
  • Bleach dingy grout.
  • Replace worn rugs. Put out a new welcome mat.
  • Hang up fresh towels and keep towels in the bathroom to a minimum.
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no. Masking odors is worse. There are not enough scented candles to hide pet urine.

9. Scrutinize.

  • Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
  • Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
  • Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense. Feng Shui works!
  • Make sure window coverings hang level, are clean and if slats in blinds are broken, fix them.
  • Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz? Is it too cluttered or personalized?
  • Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You're almost finished! Think how a hotel room looks when you check in-clean and sparse.
  • Stage it. If you can't stage a home, we can help you do it or hire a crew to have it done for you. Professional staging can help sell a home faster and for more money-but it costs money to do it right. 

10. Check Curb Appeal.

  • If a buyer won't get out of their agent's car because they don't like the exterior of your home, you'll never get them inside.
  • Keep the porches and patios cleared to just the basics. If you have a grill outside, make sure it's clean.
  • Mow the lawn regularly, feed it and weed it.
  • Paint faded window trim. FHA/VA buyers will have appraisals/lenders that won't allow any peeling exterior paint on the outside of the home.
  • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive!
  • Trim your bushes and your trees.
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number. Maybe class up the style of numbers. And don't forget to put in a new shiny mailbox or repaint the old one.