5 Simple Steps To Prepare House for Sale
How Much Does it Cost?
Prices vary depending on where you live and the local demand for professional home staging. Coastal areas and large metropolitan cities where home staging has been prevalent for years command higher prices. Some real estate agents help sellers Stage the home themselves. Most listing agents agree, however, that vacant homes show better with staging and will encourage sellers to hire a professional stager. Fees range from $500 to $5,000 or more, depending on square footage and the number of rooms staged.
STEP 1: REMOVE YOUR EMOTIONS
There is a large difference between a “House” and a “Home”. One is an investment, an asset, or even a liability, the other is a place where you raise a family, cook meals and share intimate moments. When making a purchase one needs to take into account the home factor in order to make the decision. Therefore buying a home often becomes an emotional decision. Selling however is a different story. You must see the property for the house that it is, and make as many if not all of your decisions based on the facts about your house.
You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. It is simply property, real estate. Your goal is to make sure others see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not deliberately make this happen, you will often cause your house to sit on the market, take longer to sell and ultimately sell for less money. Many times throughout this article I’m going to be very blunt with you. Please know now that anything I share is to shed light on how to sell your house quicker and for more money, I could worry about hurting a few feelings; however this article would be twice as long. Please do not be offended by anything I state here. If you are I am sorry, but as stated above, feelings have nothing to do with selling a house.
STEP 2: MAKE YOUR HOME “ANONYMOUS”
The first step in preparing your home to sell is to remove all your personal touches. You will have done a great job making your house a home, for you. But not everyone likes what you like and most people are not interested in the hobbies you have. You need to create an environment for showings not for living.
If there is a new home sales site with model homes near your home, go and see it. What you will find are some brilliantly furnished homes that are positioned to sell many, many
models. They feel as though anyone could live in them. There may be a baseball glove in the boy’s room, but no family photos on the walls.
There may be “personality” – but no person.
When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, it puts your own brand on the home and for a moment shatters their illusions about living in the house themselves, and makes them think this is someone else’s HOME. Buyers use emotion to buy and their emotions are now clouded with thoughts of taking someone out of their home.
Put away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit, or simply use a corner of your basement or your garage, as long as it is packed neatly and does not affect the perceived size of your space.
STEP 3: DE-CLUTTERING THE HOUSE
After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to you. It literally is the living that creates the clutter. Often it is the many little things you simply cannot live without. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it.
Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. You want, in fact need, as much open space as possible, so every extra little thing needs to be cleared away, packed up and organized.
Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive. Let your agent help you too. In fact your best option is to find a Home Stager whose profession is getting homes ready for sale, and then here is the key ….actually listening to them. Many of today’s top realtors will actually provide you with a consultation with a home stager as part of their service when you list with them. A properly staged home on average makes 5.8% more money than a similar un-staged home. That is a lot of money you can put back into your pocket at the end of the day.
The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start.
First, get everything off the counters, everything, even the toaster. Put the toast4er into a cupboard and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in the cupboards and drawers.
Of course, you know that you do not have cupboard space to put everything, which is why some things are on the counter. Clean the cupboards out fully. The items that rarely get used should be put in a box and that box should be put in storage.
You see, homebuyers will open many of your cupboards and drawer. They want to be sure there is room for all of their “things.” If your kitchen cupboards, pantries, and drawers look jammed full, it sends a negative message to the buyer, “there is not enough space.” However, a clean and open cupboard promotes a picture of more than enough storage space.
If you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or in the pantry, begin using them – especially canned goods. Canned foods are heavy and you don’t want to be lugging them to a new house, anyway – or paying a mover to do so.
Beneath the sink is critical. Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, as clean as possible and that there are no odours. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home.
Closets are great for collecting clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes – things you rarely wear but cannot bear to give to Goodwill just yet or simply cannot live without. If you can do without these items for a couple of months, put them in a box, because it is these items can make your closets look “crammed full”. Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of stuff or other accumulated personal items, too. Often we have 35 dress shirts and only really need 15, pack them up and make the closet big. Closet space is often a large deciding factor for homebuyers.
Most people have too much furniture in certain rooms – not too much for your own personal living needs – but too much to give the illusion of space that a homebuyer would like to see. Remember the builder’s homes; less furniture and small furniture create a more spacious visual for your potential buyers. Observe how they place furniture in those models so your get some ideas on what to remove and what to leave in your house.
Basements, garages, attics and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These areas should be as empty and neat as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. If you do use these as storage areas, make sure to use the middle of a wall so the buyer can see just how deep the space is on three sides. Make sure that ay storage is neat and tidy, this is essential.
Lastly a great tip for removing junk and making a little cash (many people employ their kids to do this for some extra spending cash and to get them excited about moving), have a garage sale!
STEP 4: REPAIRS AND RENOVATIONS
Do not do anything too costly, like major renovations (basement finishing, heavy landscaping). Remember that part of selling a house is also preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything that will affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for your next mortgage. Also most major renovations will not add as much value to your home as they will cost you to have done. This is another great reason to have a professional home stager give you their advice. This alone could save you thousands of dollars.
Plumbing and Fixtures
When looking at a house, prospective home buyers often do not really know what to do. So they play with things. They flick light switches. They open things. They turn on some faucets and flush the odd toilet. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers.
Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. If you have a difficult stain to remove, the best plan is to hire a cleaning service to go through and clean your home all over on a one-time basis. They tend to clean things you may haven’t thought of cleaning.
Ceilings, Walls, and Painting
Check all the ceilings for water stains. Find the leak and repair it and make sure a proper job is done, then repair the inside aesthetics. Nothing irritates a buyer more than finding out – after the fact – about plumbing or roofing leaks. They will be calling their lawyer faster than you can blink your eye.
If a water stain is left after something you have already repaired, do the cosmetic work necessary to improve the desirability of your home. That often means you need to be painting. You may have to paint anyway, especially if you have an outdated color scheme. Painting makes a home look fresh and new on the inside and never fails to impress. Do not choose colors based on your own taste, but based on what would appeal to general public. You should almost always choose an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious. It is one of the least costly changes your can make to a house that can cut the sale time in half or add money to the final sale price.
Carpet and Flooring
Unless your carpet or under-pad is completely shot, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner. If you choose to replace it, do so with something fairly inexpensive in a neutral color (grey or beige)
Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on these things. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move. Your goal is simply to have as little a number of issues that will discourage those that come to view your house.
Windows and Doors
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure they are painted nicely and do not look worn or weathered. Ensure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home. Nothing will detract from your value quicker than a broken window. The images this brings up of an unsafe area, or hoodlum kids is just not good at all.
Do the same things with the doors – make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. If they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges can make the creak go away. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned and polished to look sharp.
For those who smoke, you need to eliminate completely smoking indoors while trying to sell your home. It is best to move smoking outside. For any non-smoker the smell of smoke will often completely turn them away from your home. They may love your home but will not buy it.
Next are the pets. Guess what? Pets come with odors. You may have become used to them, but they are immediately noticeable to those who are walking through your home. With the steam cleaning, followed by regular maintenance and “Febreeze” type products you should be able to create a pleasant environment.
For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily and use plenty of baking soda. For dog owners, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible, even those adorable lovable little dogs. An make sure you have the ability to remove the animals during showings, many people have a fear of animals and crating them does not solve this issue, but adds to it from other pet owners who feel bad for the animals.
STEP 5: THE EXTERIOR OF THE HOUSE
A homebuyer’s first impression is based on his or her view of the house from the street as they drive up. Everyone knows this as “curb appeal.” The better the home looks from the outside the more showings and buyers you will have through you house.
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares. Then it may be time to go to work. You need to appear to be well taken care of and in great shape.
Is your landscaping at least average for the neighbourhood? Too much landscaping is much worse than too little. A pleasant walkway with very little maintenance is what people are looking for.
If you have an area for flowers, buy mature, colourful flowers. They add a splash of vibrancy and colour, creating a good first impression.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should take care of them right away. Certain areas may need re-sodding, and you need to give it a chance to grow so that those areas are not immediately apparent. Plus, you might want to give fertilizer enough time to be effective.
Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.
When choosing a colour, it should not be something garish and unusual, but a colour that fits well in your neighbourhood. Of course, the colour also depends on the style of your house too.
As for the roof, if you know your roof leaks, repair it. If you do not repair a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it and the buyer will want a new roof. If you know your roof leaks, and you don’t repair it and don’t disclose it, look forward to hearing from lawyers at some point in the future.
Otherwise, wait and see what the home inspector says, Or is you are really worried about what to do, have a pre-inspection done, and fix only those things that might cause a buyer to avoid your house. Why spend money unnecessarily?
The Back Yard
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of “doo-doo”. If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place if you are planning on taking them with you.
The Front Door & Entryway
The front door should look great, since it is the entryway into the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done. Fix any squeaks, and any blemishes, even minor ones. This is a major moment as the buyers will be stopped in front of this for a few seconds as they wait to gain entry.
If you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it, remove it. You can always put it up again once you move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something else you can take with you once you move. Potted planters often look great as well, but do not clutter the entrance.
Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a home owner comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers. If you must change the lock, it really is that important.
CENTURY 21 First Canadian Corp., Brokerage*
3354 Mersea St, London, ON N6P 0G3