Tuesday, January 19, 2010

10 Easy Steps to Prepare a Home for Sale

Fixing a few simple things before you sell benefits everyone.  Sellers feel they put their best foot forward and buyers feel a home is ready to move into.  Take a week to take care of these 10 simple fixes.

10.  Be ruthless about odors.
Smells don't sell and buyers might think indicate real problems that need to be fixed. Remove odor from kitchens and carpets with a deep cleaning.  Any signs of mold or grime should be removed not just "de-oderized" with a scented candle or two.  A clean house is one of the most important things you can do to make your home feel ready to move in.  It helps buyers and helps you sell.

9. Open your doors.
Make sure that all doors, cabinets and drawers open all the way without bumping into anything or sticking. Clean out the entry closet and put only a few hangers so that the buyer can visualize winter coats. This is a simple way of forcing you to de-clutter rooms and allow buyers to check out everything they need to see.

8.  Clean and fix knobs and handles.
Nothing says "hello" like a shiny front door knob.  But buyers will see and value working clean door handles throughout the house.  Don't overlook sink, tub and shower faucets, expect buyers to test them.

7.  Let the view show through.
Make sure your windows are spotless and bushes are trimmed so viewer can see in and out.  If a window looks onto an unsightly yard or neighbor's home, place a screen in front of it or cover it with a opaque shade to let light in but hide the mess.

6. Hide unique decor.
Unique possessions and  personal color choices are what make a home your own.  But they can kill a sale.  Pick the pieces that are most neutral and create simple room designs.  Put away most of your art and photos (exceptions are listed number 5).  Keep telling yourself you are designing for The Pottery Barn and you'll get the right note.

5.  Personal photos - an exception.
Most advice says put away anything personal, but a few well chosen photos of you and your family enjoying the house and yard can convey the possibilities of living in the home.  If it is Winter a  make sure to have some pictures, in frames, of the yard and garden in Spring or Summer, maybe even a family barbecue in the summer.  A photo of a Christmas tree in the living room can set the stage for buyers new memories.

4.  Shine a light.
Increase the wattage of the light bulbs  all through your house, and while your at it make sure all the shades are washed inside and out.

3.  Counter space rules the kitchen.
Even a small kitchen looks better when all the counters are clear.  Put away all the appliances, bottles, jars and baskets.   One basket of colorful fruit should be enough.

2.  Steam clean carpets.
Few of us see the little paths and dirt that accumulate on carpets in daily life, except buyers, they see all!  When someone walks in a home for the first time they are looking at the floor to see where they are stepping and every stain will show.  Rent a steam cleaner for a weekend and go over every carpet a couple times.  You might even consider buying new carpet for the entry hall, it's a small space where a little expense can make a big impact.

1.  Have a garage sale!
The best tip is to start out your sale by getting rid of things you don't need.  A garage sale works on so many levels: you de-clutter your home, save on moving costs and put some cash in your pocket to make the small changes you need to make your house shine.