Step 1: Get your home ready to sell
The home selling process can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve broken it down into six easy steps. This article describes the first step: Getting your home ready to sell. The more preparation you do beforehand, the better price you’ll get for your home.
Take a critical look at your house
When selling a home, you need to look at it from the perspective of a potential buyer. Are there obvious flaws that need to be fixed? Problems that you have grown accustomed to will leap out at potential buyers. Fix everything prior to listing. If you’re worried about possible repairs for larger problems such as an old roof or a broken heating and cooling system, it can pay to get a home inspection so you know what needs work. Taking care of those larger issues yourself before putting your home on the market can mean more offers and less negotiating later.
What about the appearance of your home? Does the décor need an update? Consider painting or making minor changes to update problem areas. Rearranging the furniture or buying new furniture or slipcovers can quickly change a room. Even if you don’t need updating, a fresh coat of paint helps both the inside and outside of your house look better and cleaner. Just be sure to choose neutral colors that will appeal to many buyers. The updates you make should be relatively cheap or should be able to travel with you to your new home.
Give it curb appeal
Starting at the curb, is your home welcoming? Check the landscaping and lawn. Trim your hedges, edge your loan, pull weeds, pressure wash the driveway and front walk. Plant flowers either in bed or pots around the front door. Keep your front porch swept and clear of any outside clutter. Replace a worn-out welcome mat. Paint the front door. If you have a storm door, clean the glass. Check to make sure all outdoor lights are working, especially the porch and walkway light.
In your backyard, put all your tools and work equipment out of site. If you have power tools or lawn equipment you don’t use frequently, put it in storage or at a friend’s house. Make sure any swing sets and outdoor furniture are clean and in good repair. That goes for the deck as well – repair any rotted wood, especially on steps.
Clean and de-clutter the inside
One of the most important things that you should do when selling a home is to clean and de-clutter inside. Home selling requires a thorough spring cleaning – the baseboards, blinds, furniture, floors, carpets, everywhere. You want your home to shine. You may even consider hiring a cleaning service to do this if you are short on time. And remember, once your home is clean, keep it that way. When your home is on the market, make sure you vacuum, mop and clean your kitchen and bathrooms every few days.
You also want your home to be free of clutter when selling it. Go through each room and pinpoint the piles of clutter that have built up, and be ruthless. In your living areas, get organized by storing what needs to be stored and throwing away the rest. If your rooms are furniture-heavy, store what you don’t need or take it to a friend’s house. Go through your bedrooms and put away personal items. Get a head start on packing by thinning out your closets with out-of-season clothing. Pare down your outwear, especially if you have a coat rack near an entrance. Pack away extra coats, shoes, umbrellas and other outdoor gear you won’t need while you’re selling.
In the kitchen, clear off the counters and organize your cabinets (they will be opened!). Pack away kitchen items you can do without – the piles of storage containers, party serving dishes, and specialty pots and tools you rarely use. The extra room will make your kitchen feel more spacious.
In the bathroom, move toothpaste, makeup and other items from the counter to a drawer or cabinet (neatly though, don’t just toss everything in the drawer). Put out a new bar of soap on a sparkling clean soap dish (if you can’t get all the dried-up soap off, buy an inexpensive new one.) Pack away medicine for ailments people don’t care to think about – laxatives, athlete’s foot, etc. Don’t leave your toilet bowl brush or plunger next to the toilet – a better place for those items is your utility closet.
Scrub your tub or shower stall until it looks new, and clean it every day to keep soap scum and mildew away (that includes fishing hair from the drain). Replace your shower curtain liner. Limit yourself to one shampoo bottle and one bar of soap or one bottle of shower gel. Use a wash cloth daily? Dried up, dirty wash clothes are a turn off. Toss it into the laundry and replace it after one use. Inspect your towels – only display clean, hole-free towels. If the edges on all your towels are frayed, pick up new, inexpensive ones to display.
Mudrooms, basements and laundry rooms can be the toughest areas to deal with when selling. Don’t let the project overwhelm you. First, throw away the junk. Then pack items you need but use rarely into storage bins or boxes and neatly stack them on shelves. Having the area clean and freshly painted is important. If you have pets, make sure food, litter boxes, pet toys and grooming tools are not in high-traffic areas.
After you’ve prepared your home inside and out, have a friend or neighbor walk through and tell you what should be changed. You need to choose someone who is not afraid to be honest to do this. The feedback can really help in the first step of the home selling process.
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