5 Things To Do To Sell Your House
That Will Wow Buyers
Clean, Clean, Clean like you have never cleaned before:
Sure, buyers won’t exactly notice that every little nook and cranny is spotless, BUT let me assure you they will notice if it isn’t! When I say clean, I mean a white glove clean. A white glove clean means that someone could walk around your house with white gloves and touch every surface and still have perfectly white gloves. To sell your house for top dollar, everything needs to sparkle
This isn’t just spring cleaning, this is sell-your-house cleaning. Every surface, wall, ceiling, lighting fixture, window, cabinet…anything and everything needs to be touched. My advice is start at the ceiling of every room. Take a swiffer duster and go over ceilings, then work your way down from there. If your lighting fixtures haven’t been dusted in awhile, you may have to use some cleaner. Get a wet rag and start wiping. Continue to work your way around the walls…you’d be surprised how much dust lands on the way (and sticks) from your HVAC system. Don’t forget to wipe down the vent covers. If they are a little rough looking take them down and spray paint them to bring them back to life.
If you don’t regularly dust/clean your baseboards you may have to do a bit of scrubbing to clean them up. Clean every corner of the floors, make sure to move furniture around to make sure it’s spotless. While you are at it, don’t forget to wipe, dust, etc every piece of furniture and decor.
Windows – a total pain (pun intended)! However, having clean clear windows makes a big difference in the overall appearance. Both inside and out – this is where tilt in windows are amazing. If you don’t have tilt in windows for cleaning, Windex has a product that can be attached to a hose that will help out in this area. Don’t forget the inside of the windows where dust and dirt collect. Break out your Q-tips to get in those small places. Have your vacuum cleaner nearby to help out too.
When we say de-clutter, we mean 60% (or more!) of your stuff needs to be packed away. If you have space in your basement to neatly stack a bunch of boxes without it looking crowed, then go ahead. The ideal situation would be to rent a storage unit and take the stuff off site. Physically removing the items from the house is a little more of a hassle, but it makes a bigger impact. It will make the house feel larger and as if there is more than enough space for all your things.
This isn’t just about de-clutter, this is also about packing away all the knick-knacks, personal photos…basically anything that is just sitting out that you don’t need to survive for the next few weeks while your house in on the market.
Don’t forget to clear out your closets. I got news for you people, potential buyers touring your house WILL open cabinet and closets. Don’t stuff everything in there hoping that no one will notice…they will notice and it will look like there is no storage/closet space.
Speaking of cabinets – de-cluttering kitchen cabinets is a must too. Buyers will open kitchen cabinets to get an idea of the space and if it will fit all the items. Clear off kitchen counters so the space look larger. Remember – take everything out of the cabinets and wipe them down. Then, before you put everything back, determine if you really need it taking up space or if it’s something that can be packed away…or better yet donated!
This is the time to take a good hard look at everything that you have collected. Do you REALLY need it? Or is it just taking up space. Consider this before taking the energy and space to pack it up, move it around while getting your house ready for sale and then dealing with it at your new home. Now is the time to sort through items and donate or sell them (or trash them).
Bottom line is that you are moving anyway, go ahead and pack up anything you don’t really need or that adds to appearance of the home. The clearer a space is, the better a potential buyer can see themselves in a space. Buyers want to feel like they are buying a home for them, not taking over someone’s house.
Lighting fixtures can really date a space. Take a look at the lighting fixtures in your main (and most important) living areas. Start with the foyer, this is the first area a potential buyer will see and you want to make a good first impression! From there, move to the next living areas of the home. Do the fixture add or take away from the space? Buying updated lighting fixtures isn’t terribly expensive in the grand scheme of things and especially if it helps sell your house. Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick out some modern fixtures then hire someone on Thumbtack to install them for you.
I had recently updated 7 lighting fixtures in my house. The total cost for the fixtures was a little over $500. Then it was about another $400 (or so) to hire someone to install them all. So for about $1,000 I was able to really transform the living room, entry hall, 2 bathrooms and a couple bedrooms. Not a bad deal.
Don’t forget about the importance of soft bright bulbs everywhere you can to ensure the best and brightest light throughout the house. If a room doesn’t have very good lighting, consider buying a lamp or two to brighten up the space.
Bathroom fixtures are another consideration. How do they look? Are they dated, rough looking? Updating the bathroom fixtures can help make a bathroom feel more modern. Again, this isn’t something that is expensive to buy and it can make such a big difference. If nothing else, be sure the sink faucet is presentable. Buyers don’t tend to focus on the tub/shower fixtures all that much. However, the sink is one of the first things any buyer looks at when walking into the bathroom. Speaking of sink, how is the vanity? Simply updating the vanity can totally transform the bathroom altogether. If it’s outdated or in bad shape, strongly consider a new vanity.
Door handles are another one that gets noticed throughout a house. If they are an outdated finish, taken them off and spray paint them. There is spray paint made specifically for this type of thing. Even spray painting those cheap looking gold handles to an oiled bronze can be a major difference in the overall appearance of the house.
What about other handles and pulls in the bathrooms and kitchen? I wouldn’t worry much about these unless they are broke or really distract from everything else. Again, these are something that could potentially be spray painted for an easy fix and if that isn’t an option, then basic pulls are very inexpensive. Remember, you just want something that doesn’t distract from the overall appearance.
Yes – most likely you will have to paint. Putting on a fresh coat of paint really can clean up a room. Walls get a lot of abuse. They get scuff marks, scratches, etc., so putting on a fresh coat of paint can really clean up the walls and make the entire space feel fresh, clean and updated.
Speaking of painting – baseboards almost always need touched up. If they are painted, then paint away. If they are stained, then you would be how surprised how a little light sanding and a quick swipe of the stain can change the look of baseboards…and the entire room.
Since you are painting the walls anyway, go ahead and change up the color to a neutral light grey if they aren’t already something fairly natural. The reason grey is used so often is because it’s bright, light and can really go with almost anyone’s decor.
Sellers push back on having to paint everything or change up wall colors. I don’t disagree that painting the house is a project on top of everything else that has to be done to get the house ready. Sellers often say that buyers are going to paint anyway. And this might be true, however, buyers don’t want to feel like they would have to paint before moving in. This puts your house in a truly ‘move-in’ ready state!
You really want to create a space that buyers feel like they could literally pick up their things and move right in. You don’t want to create a long to-do list for the buyers as they are walking through the house. The more they feel like they will have to do to the house before they move it, the harder it will be to sell your house and for the most money.
This is a big one. Just as big as all the others listed above put together. The potential buyers realize that the furniture that is currently existing isn’t something that is going to stay or that comes with the house. Yet at the same time, looking past the decor can sometimes be really hard.
Decor will set the stage and tone for the home. It’s something that creates part of the experience for any potential buyer walking through the home. Creating the best experience for the potential buyer will increase your chances for an offer and for more money.
If your furniture is a bit on the rough side or outdated, address it! Buy slip covers, touch it up, clean it. Going out and buying new furniture doesn’t make sense, however, having unattractive/outdated furniture really takes away from the appeal of the home. It makes it feel outdated, old and need of….well, something. Buyers have a hard time seeing past this.
If buying a slip cover isn’t an option, then this item needs to be put in storage. If the item has a bunch of knicks or dents, then touch it up with furniture markers. If touching it up doesn’t work, then remove the item.
While everyone realizes that your stuff is not their stuff and won’t stay with the house…doesn’t matter, remove it, touch it up or cover it. Buying some new couch pillows, throw blankets, rugs and pictures can really make blah spaces feel fresh, updated and a place a potential buyer would want to live. It’s all about creating an image here, it has nothing to do with your actual furniture. It’s called staging for a reason.
Don’t forget to remove all the personal photos and clutter. This can distract from the showing of your home. You’ll be surprised on how many potential buyers will focus on personal photos and not on the actual house. So remove them!
I realize that addressing your decor may be a hard pill to swallow and the last thing you want to deal with when putting your house up for sale. But I have several stories of houses that should have sold within days on the market, but ended up sitting there for a very long time. In many cases the listing expired and the sellers hired a new agent only for it to continue to sit on the market. Eventually I think most homes will sell (provided there aren’t any major defects), however, do the right things will cause a listing to sit on the market and eventually sell for way less than expected.
Buyers don’t want to buy grandma’s house, they want something that fits their style. Understanding who your potential buyer might be will help you in this area. If the potential buyer for your house is a young first time home buyer, then the house needs to convey this. Buyers want to buy something that reflects their tastes….or at least what they want they style to be!
I can think of two very specific recent examples where homes should have sold for top dollar and within days of being on the market, yet they didn’t. In both cases the furniture (not the house or fixtures) was very personal or dated. In one scenario the furniture was very country with flowers all over it, there were lace table runners and doilies sitting around. This was a small house in an area that first time home buyers are fighting to get a house. It was a perfect size for the first time home buyer and even better price point. But it sat there for a long time and went on and off the market several time with many price drops.
The other house had a similar situation. It had been a full rehab with everything updated just a few years ago. However, when you looked at the photos online it was anything but exciting. When you actually toured the house the 80’s furniture didn’t create nostalgia, it made this updated house feel outdated. Buyers KNOW that the furniture doesn’t stay, but it’s so hard to look past it and the look it conveys is anything but trendy.
In an ideal world, you would have your home staged. Staging a home sells homes faster and for more money. Almost every agent has a dozen stories and examples of how homes sold fast and for top dollar because the stating sold it!
Want some professional advice on the things you need to focus on as you prepare your home for sale? Reach out to me anytime, I’ll be glad to help!
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Shannon St. Pierre