In the aggressive world of real estate where there are often more sellers than buyers, it’s only common sense to prepare your home so that it will look its very best, giving you an edge over your competition. There are many ways to give your house a sparkle without having to pay an arm and a leg.
A prospective buyer’s first impression naturally sets the tone for the rest of the visit. If you can be objective, pretend you are a buyer coming to your house for the first time.
- Does the grass need trimming?
- Is the sidewalk clean?
- What do they see as soon as they walk in the door?
- Is there footwear to trip over, jackets hanging outside of the closet, mud on the floor, fingerprints on the window?
- When you look beyond the entry, how does the rest of the house seem?
- Does it feel cluttered?
- Is there furniture in awkward places?
- Are you walking into a home where you wish you could keep your shoes on?
Often we are used to seeing our homes with blinders on. Certain items have sat in the same place for so long that we don’t even notice things like cluttered surfaces or smudges on the walls. Looking with fresh eyes can be somewhat difficult for some people, so ask a friend who’s not afraid to be blunt.
What is their first impression? How does the house smell to them? Does it look dirty, or cluttered? Tidying up, painting, and de-cluttering can make a world of difference.
Lots of things you can do cost next to nothing and just take a little time and elbow grease. Here are some great tips:
- Put things away, and pack your personal items. Photos of the children or family pet, souvenirs, or knickknack collections just take up space and can distract the prospective buyer from focusing on your home. Many people can’t look beyond the ‘stuff’ in the house, so put as much as you can into moving boxes. You will have to pack up everything when you move anyway. Right away your house will seem more clean and spacious. Most people are looking for a home where they can feel proud to bring friends or family.
- Arranging your furniture in a way that encourages people to socialize will make a home feel more friendly and warm. Take the focus off the television. Arrange seating in conversational groupings. If your furniture looks very worn and shabby, either purchase some slipcovers, or see if the cost of renting some furnishings is in your budget. Check out home staging professionals to see if they can offer you a service you can afford. Some of these companies advertise that they will work with your existing belongings to optimize your room appeal. If you were planning to get rid of some old furniture when you move, do it now. Nothing makes a room feel more cramped and dingy than having too much stuff in it. And it’s a lot easier to keep your house looking nice if there’s not so much to take care of.
- A huge deterrent to a prospective buyer is a smelly house. That musty, old house smell can sometimes be eliminated by de-humidifying, and there are hundreds of products on the market for masking or getting rid of odors entirely.
- Cleaning carpets, repainting or washing walls, and keeping up with the dirty laundry will make a difference too.
- Pets and their accessories need to be kept spotless. A litter box, even when kept somewhat clean, can usually be detected by someone who has no pets. Stinky dog beds and dog hair everywhere can make a whole house feel dirty.
- Make your house sparkle. Wash the windows and mirrors. Polish the chrome in the kitchen and bathroom. If you have some crystal or glassware, make it gleam and add some flowers. Dust all the furniture with a furniture wax. Wash the floors.
- Turn on the lights before the agent brings the prospective buyers (but don’t forget to dust them and remove the dead bugs!)
- Kitchens and bathrooms need some extra consideration. Naturally dirty dishes need to be put away, counters must be spotless and the floors need to be clean. Don’t think that you can hide a filthy bathtub by closing the shower curtain. People are going to look! And a nice fresh scent in the bathroom can make buyers think that the bathroom is cleaner than it actually is. (Don’t get me wrong….it still needs to be immaculate.)
- Spend a bit of time mending things like leaky faucets and burnt out lights.
- Tidy up the garage as much as you can.
- Trim the hedges and do a little weeding.
You can be sure that the time spent on fixing and cleaning will be worth every minute. A home that looks sparkly clean and smells fresh and inviting is certain to attract extra attention and interest. And who knows…maybe you’ll even get more than your asking price. There’s no harm in trying!