So you've finally done it! You've decided to list your home! What's your first step? Your first step should be to find a realtor. Your realtor will help you with all the major decisions. Is now a good time to sell? Are your expectations realistic? What renovations will increase your listing price or justify the price you would like to acheive? What small things can you do to create a better impression of one your biggest, if not the biggest assets you own. Once you have your most valuable tool in place - your REALTOR - it's time to get your house in shape for showings.
How to Prepare Your Home For Sale
1) Make a List of All of the Major Furniture in Your Home (an inventory)
You might be surprised at what you have. The trick is to de-clutter and depersonalize your home. You want everyone that walks in to be able to visualize themselves with their furnitre and their treasures in your home. That's hard to do if everywhere they turn there are personal photos or trophies or the like.
The best way to do this - organize your belongings into piles starting with furniture and moving down in size to knick knacks, clothing etc.
Pile 1 - KEEP/Treasures: No questions asked these are items you cannot live without. (After you have done your main sort you can decide if these same items should be on display or packaged carefully until you move)
Pile 2 - DONATE/Sell: if you haven't used in a year and it is in good condition and you can't think of when you might need it again it belongs here.
Pile 3 - TRASH: Not worth keeping not worth giving away. If an item has been broken for 3 months or longer and you haven't gotten around to repairing it, it certainly won't happen when you are trying to sell your home, find a new one and pack. Ditch it. This also applies to partiallty finished projects you have started. If you really feel that you will get to these lost souls, keep 3 and reevaluate your likelihood to complete in 6 months. Chances are they will be in the same state that you left them.
Pile 4 - OUTDATED: That commodore 64 in the basement? 13 cell phones in ever increasing sizes? Make a trip to your local e-waste depot and recycle.
This is the time to create those wide open spaces you love so much in show homes and magazines. Eliminate clutter, small objects that serve no purpose and knick knacks. Reduce, reduce reduce. This does not mean your beloved items need to be thrown away, they can just go on a vacation in a storage box for a little while. Remember all these things add up to added perceived value in your home.
Make sure each room has a theme and a purpose. No, I'm not suggesting cheesy hotel theme room style. If it's a spare bedroom don't have extra sports equipment, a desktop computer, your keyboard and your rowing machine all in the same room. If possible give each room a purpose and remove and store unwanted items that don't fit the purpose of the room. Think of the old Sesame Street adage "one of these things is not like the other". It works.
De-personalize: You want the people viewing your home to imagine them and their belongings in your space. The best way to do this is to create a "neutral environment". Remove collections, family photos, etc. While you might love your Hummel collection it may be the very thing that turns someone away from your home. You have no idea what someone else may have an aversion to. PLUS it keeps your special, irreplaceable objects safe from damage.
Pack: Anything you aren't likely to use for 6 months or more that you still want to keep - pack! Closets will seem more spacious, cupboards more organized and give an overall impression of more sqaure footage.
All those little things that bug you about your home on your to-do list? They'll bug prospective buyers as well Try doing a walk through of your house with "fresh eyes". From the curb on through. Fix all those tiny things (or not so tiny things) that need attention. When viewing a home prospective buyers make a mental checkmark every time they see something that needs repair, and that mental checkmark often means money they deduct from their perceived value of your home, and believe me, the price reductions are not usually in proportion with what the actual repair would cost. This does not mean RENOVATE. In some instances a renovation will re-coup the costs or save you money, for example - a roof. A roof in need of repair scares most buyers away. Almost all other renovations (other than fresh paint which really lies between repair and cleaning) are simply a waste of money at this point in time. If something desperately needs to be done, reduce your price accordingly. There are only 3 reasons why a home doesnt sell - PRICE/LOCATION/CONDITION.
Cleaning your house for sale goes well beyond dusting, mopping and vacuuming. You must clean it like you mean it. You must minutely examine every square inch of your house and restore it to near-new condition. Consider the harsh reality: if something appears dirty or smells bad to you, it will be revolting in the buyers!
The good news is that, as you've decluttered your house, you will find cleaning not nearly as laborious. But just in case, you may want to stock up on your back-pain medicine. Put on some good music and clean like your mother-in-law is coming for a month, or the queen, or a VIP guest. Just DO it!
An advantage of a well-cared-for house is that you're less likely to receive a low offer. When buyers can't find faults they focus less on how much money they can squeeze out of you and start thinking that the house is right for them.
If you don't have the time to clean then you should hire a professional. It's a smart investment. This includes WINDOWS. Nothing negates the care and cleanliness of a house like looking through dirty windows. Clean inside your cabinets - people look! Vacuum (yes vacuum) your fridge. It gets all those little bits and pieces out. Cleanliness is key. Don't leave damp laundry in your laundry room - prospective buyers smell the damp and think you are disguising water issues. Wash the front of all your cabinets, dust lightbulbs, remove cobwebs, wipe door frames and handles. Everything makes a difference.
This the step that isn't a renovation, its a REJEUVINATION. Replace all burnt out light bulbs and if possible update light fixtures. Make sure all your switch plates and electrical out let covers a) exist b)match. Are you cupboard knobs outdated? While a kitchen reno is costly something as simple as switching out the hardware can give a whole new appearance. Check your furniture for scale. If it's too big remove it. It can cost your valuable visual sqaure footage. Replace outdated curtains. Clean window blinds. Tidy up flower beds and lawn. Have good towels in the washroom, with pleasant smelling soaps. Ditch the silk flowers - trust me.
You've done everything! You're ready for showings! But how do you LIVE in your home and keep it ready to show at a moment's notice (ish)?
Make lists: weekly
|During the warm months, maintain your landscape by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubs and plants. If you have a water sprinkler system then set for hours when you have no potential buyers strolling around the yard.|
|Sweep walkways, driveway, front porch and decks.|
|Wash your windows when required.|
|Dust the furniture.|
|Sweep, vacuum and mop your floor accordingly. Do this more often when required. Give your throw rugs a good shake outside.|
|Clean the shower and tub areas.|
|Organize storage spaces. Observe the half-full rule.|
|Replenish indoor flowers or outdoor planters for new showings.|
|Pay your bills and put mail and statements away.|
|Make the beds every morning.|
|Launder more often to avoid the mountain-of-clothes syndrome and the smell of dirty socks.|
|Sort fresh mails. Keep those pieces that matter (utility bills, letters, etc) and toss the rest immediately. The new motto is file, not pile.|
|Dump yesterday’s newspaper.|
|Wash the dishes right after meals. Put them away when dried.|
|Wipe faucets and sinks clean.|
|Discard old food and leftovers in the fridge.|
|Remove fingerprints and smudges from mirrors, windows, and walls.|
|Sanitize the toilet bowl.|
|Pick up after your pets, inside and outside the house.|
|Fall/Winter: Rake the leaves. Clear snow and de-ice walkways and driveway. You don’t want to be liable if one of your visitors falls.|
|Spring/Summer: Water your lawn and garden every few days. Retract or tuck away the hoses when done.|
|Turn on all lights when you’re not home.|
|Use the clutter bins to collect last minute junk. Buyers have the tendency to turn up when you least expect them.|
Last Minute Before You Leave the House
|Pick up any last minute clutter inside and outside of your house. Use the clutter bins you’ve set aside for this purpose.|
|Maintain a pleasant indoor temperature (21C or 70F).|
|Declutter the kitchen counter. Put away kitchen gadgets and small appliances.|
|Clear the dish drainer. Tuck dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Your sink should be empty.|
|Put away personal valuables. Turn off your computer.|
|Straighten chairs and tables.|
|Open windows, weather permitting, to fill your house with fresh air.|
|Make sure no drawers are left ajar.|
|Open all interior doors except those of closets and pantry.|
|Pull open the blinds and curtains to brighten your space.|
|Wipe your shower and tub area dry if necessary.|
|Draw the shower curtain back so buyers don’t have to peek.|
|Ensure all toilet lids are down.|
|Close the garage door.|
|Turn on all lights, including those in your closets, basement and garage. Don’t forget your exterior lights when the showing is in the evening. It may surprise you that buyers shop for houses at night too.|
|Turn off the TV. Turn on soft music at low volume.|
|Take out the garbage. No stinky odors in this house!|
If you have pets, please take them with you. Not everyone likes, cats, dogs, snakes or rabbits. it's stressful for your pets and it may cause a poor impression on the buyers.
Follow all of these steps and you will be sure to have a successful listing!