No matter what the reason is for you to place your home on the market, there are two major considerations. Primarily you’ll want to attract potential buyers, and secondarily, you’ll want to maximize the selling price of your home. Your real estate listing agent will be able to project your initial listing price, based on recent local home sale transactions. Remember, your listing agent works for you. They have a financial interest in the sale of the home, so talk to them about how you can sell your home for the best price in a time frame that works for you.
A conversation that you’ll need to have with your agent will be related to what’s called “staging” your home. Staging your home is about presenting the home to buyers in its best possible condition when you get ready to sell your house. This includes the interior and the exterior. There are professional stagers who are experienced in preparing homes for sale. You can hire a professional stager, or you can follow this simple guideline and get started on your own.
Of utmost importance when selling and staging your home is cleanliness. When your home is on the market, prepare to stay busy cleaning. Do an initial deep clean and plan on keeping things clean all the time. This means clearing spiderwebs from ceilings, cleaning ceiling fans, interior and exterior windows. Do a scrub down of all interior walls, eliminating fingerprints and stray scuffs and marks. Steam clean carpets and furniture. Try to remove any stains from carpets.
Clear off all countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms and sanitize all surfaces. Move furniture and appliances away from walls and vacuum and mop behind and beneath everything. Clean out the refrigerator. Throw away old food and wipe down the interior shelves as well as the exterior surface. Consider buying a deep freezer to store bulky frozen foods so your freezer looks neat and organized. You can use the deep freezer as a bargaining chip during sale negotiations, or you can take it with you when you move.
Once you’ve given your home a thorough cleaning, you’ll need to be vigilant about keeping it clean. Your agent may contact you at any time with a last-minute showing request, or they may want to show the house when you’ve already left the house for the day. It’s critical that your house be in show-ready condition at all times when it’s on the market. Give yourself extra time each morning before leaving for the day to put away breakfast dishes, wipe down the bathroom fixtures, and pick up any personal items that sometimes begin to collect around the house. Keep beds made and laundry either put away or in laundry hampers. Be sure to take out the garbage daily to eliminate bad odors.
Keep the exterior of your home clean. Power wash walkways, decks, siding, and driveways. Keep flower beds free of weeds and other debris. Keep bushes, hedges, and trees trimmed. Foliage shouldn’t touch the sides of the house or the roof. Be sure to keep hoses, lawn tools, and equipment neat and orderly. Repair or replace gutters if necessary. Roof cleaning may be necessary, though hiring a professional for this job is recommended. Doing it yourself with a power washer is not only dangerous, but could also lead you to cause damage to parts of the roof. A damaged roof is never good, but having a damaged or leaking roof when you’re selling your home could dissuade buyers.
Purge and De-clutter
Take a walk through your house and consider all the things you’re not taking with you when you move. Get rid of them. Purge the things you have no use for. Start packing items that you don’t use regularly. You’ll have to pack anyway once you’ve sold the house. Get a head start on the process and make your house more inviting to buyers at the same time. Eliminate clutter. Organize cabinets, closets, and inside drawers. People will look inside everything. The perception of many buyers is that if a house is kept tidy, it’s kept up.
If you have pets, keep their toys, collars, sweaters, and leashes organized. Keep their food storage area and feeding areas clean. Throw away old toys that may be dirty or torn.
Buyers need to envision themselves living in your house. Having too many personal items on display can distract them from that vision. They’re not at your house to be impressed or entertained. They’re shopping. As a note on security, put away sensitive documents, medications, and items of value.
Extend depersonalization to the exterior of your home. Minimize lawn décor. Now isn’t the time to showcase your garden gnome collection. Simplify. Keep things neutral.
Once you’ve signed a purchase and sales agreement, you’ll need to have your house inspected. Consider doing a pre-inspection. This can help your agent pitch your home to potential buyers, showing the actual documented condition of the home. It will also give you a list of things you’ll need to fix before you get to the closing. When you receive the inspection report, get to work making repairs.
Fix leaky faucets and replace caulk around bath and kitchen sinks and fixtures. Examine tiled flooring. Replace or repair broken tiles. Clean or repair grout between tiles. If tiled flooring is in need of excessive repair, consider replacing it with laminate flooring or linoleum. It’s less expensive than tile and will offer a fresh, clean look to a room. Less expensive, but new laminate flooring offers more appeal than old broken tiles. Additionally, a buyer may not like the tile you’ve chosen. Laminate flooring would be easier to remove and replace for the new buyer. Don’t burden yourself with the expense of new flooring. The same guideline follows for carpeting. Unless the existing carpets are badly stained or contain an unpleasant odor, don’t replace them. Badly stained carpets can be disguised using throw rugs. It is recommended, though, to disclose the stains to a buyer who is genuinely interested in buying the home. During the final walk-through on closing day, all of your furniture and throw rugs will be gone from the home. That’s not the moment to disclose the badly stained carpets that you disguised to the buyer.
Keep up with the minutiae. Consider replacing all light bulbs, even the ones that aren’t burned out. All bulbs should have consistent wattage to produce even lighting. Hardware stores sell accent light bulbs that enhance the aesthetic appeal to a room. Take a browse through your local hardware store to see what new lighting trends are available. Replace screens that have holes in them and replace broken windows. Patch any nicks or dings in walls and consider painting walls. If you decide to repaint, choose a neutral color. Give buyers a neutral palette on which they can imagine their furniture in your house.
Don’t spend a lot of money replacing carpets, cabinets, countertops, appliances, or fixtures unless they’re entirely tired and difficult to look at. Many people will prefer to replace these items once they’ve moved into the home. If the items are dated or tired-looking, keep them but explain to buyers that the home has been priced using the age of those items as a consideration. Only replace these items if you feel you must.
Updating your front door or exterior window shutters can make a powerful impact on a prospective buyer. Replace or repair any broken or outdated light fixtures as well as your mailbox. Be sure to display your house number on the exterior of the home. Make the number memorable. Home shoppers may be touring several homes in a short period of time. Make your home stand out to them with a strong impact of shiny or bold numbers.
Use a minimalistic style of décor. Remember that not everyone has the same aesthetic sense that you have. Place a simple vase of flowers on a table or counter. Hang a tasteful seasonal wreath on the front door. Place a fresh, clean, new welcome mat at the front door. Hang curtains or drapes. Use a seasonal tablecloth in your dining room. Update your kitchen dishtowels to something seasonal or pretty. Get rid of old sponges, washcloths, or dishtowels. Not only are they a potential eyesore, but they can also retain bad odors. Replace shower curtains, floor mats, and toilet lids in bathrooms. These are simple things to do that can make an enormous impact.
Try to appeal to the sense of smell. Use candles or potpourri to neutralize pet or other odors around the house. Try not to use fragrances that are strong or which may be offensive. Keep it simple. Use a crockpot to simmer a mulling cider or to slow-cook a stew that can offer a sense of comfort to buyers when they walk into your home during an open house.
Use potted plants or annuals to dress up the exterior of your home. Add mulch to gardens for a fresh look, or river rocks or beach stones if available and appropriate. Avoid planting perennials that grow back each year. Perennials tend to be more expensive than annuals, and they don’t add value to your home when you’re selling it. If you have birdhouses outside, be sure to keep the feeders full and the ground beneath neat. Birds and squirrels can make a mess of the seed shells. Consider adding a garden bench or birdbath to your yard to make it more inviting.
These staging tips will help you prepare your home for sale, but they’ll also make your home nicer for you to live in. Contact us at Capstone Realty Consultants and we can help get your home on the market or find you a new home in the Lexington, KY area.