If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably watched hundreds of episodes of shows on HGTV about buying and selling homes. I know I have. The advice they give is certainly worthwhile (generic pictures and art, neutral paint, etc.), but there are some other tips that they don’t mention that go a long way toward selling your house. While I'm certainly no expert, we sold both of our homes really quickly. I attribute that in large part to the tips listed below.
Here are the things we did before listing (both times) that I think helped us make it happen:
1. Make a List: Make a really detailed list of every single thing that needs to be done in every single space. Then prioritize that list and identify who in your house is responsible for completing each item. If you’re short on time and /or can afford to do so, outsource some of the items. Hire a lawn service or a painter if you need. Strike through each item as you complete it, and create an updated copy of your list each day. Keep updating it until you’ve completed all of your items.
2. De-Clutter: Go rent a storage unit. A lot of them offer the first month free. If you sell fast, you may hardly owe anything for it. Put every single piece of junk or furniture without a “place” in the storage unit. If a room is small, take out anything that is unnecessary. I believe that when you’re selling a house, it’s better for a room to look sizable than for it to look beautifully decorated. Take out the bedside tables if you need to. You want the house to fell as open as possible. A POD is a good option, too. We used both a storage unit and a POD in our last move. Let me remind you, we had an infant when we were selling. It’s hard to store and hide the baby gear, but we did it. It was well worth the sacrifice.
3. Empty Your Closets: Clear out your closets…particularly any that you use for extra storage. Empty them all out. Take that stuff to the storage unit you just rented. Your buyer is going to want to see that you have open storage space…not that you’re out of space. Most buyers are looking for more space than they had before. Give it to them.
4. Paint: Touch up any chips in your paint—inside and out. It simply makes it look like you take really good care of your home when the paint is not chipping or scuffed up.
5. Landscape: Put fresh mulch in your flower beds and plant some seasonal flowers. It takes a little work, but you get a really big bang for your buck. Your listing photos will look much better, and it makes it look homey and inviting to your potential buyers. Make it look like a place that they would be proud to bring their friends and family.
6. Hide Your Animals: Some people love animals. Other people think they’re dirty. You need to cater to the non-animal crowd. Hide your dog toys and beds. Keep the litter box and water bowls tucked away in the laundry room. Board your dogs or leave them with a friend if possible—especially for the first weekend since you’ll probably have the most showing then. This makes your home seem much cleaner. It also helps ensure that Fido doesn’t run out of the front door when strangers are coming in or that he doesn’t leave a little gift of revenge in the playroom floor upstairs (yes, this happened to us…how mortifying).
7. Hide the Bad Smells: Go to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. Buy the least offensive continuous release air freshener that you can find. Place them on the low setting throughout your house. You don’t want to gag buyers with a smell—good or bad. Vanilla or linen scents are usually good choices.
8. Clean: The most important thing to do is to clean. Even if you don’t do anything else on my list, clean your house like you’ve never cleaned it before. Make it spotless. I strongly suggest having a cleaning service do a deep, thorough clean for you the day before your house is listed. They’re professionals, and they’ll do a better job than you would. You want to be able to pass the white glove test. Starting with a really clean home will also help you keep it clean while it’s on the market. Put away all of your stuff, too. You’d think that was a given, but I once went to look at a new house listing that had a beer bottle, underwear and a box of tampons sitting out in the bathroom floor. No joke. I was shocked that the homeowners let someone see their house like that. Don’t be that home. The purpose of your cabinets is to hide your things. Use them.