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Preparing Your Home For Sale

You don’t have to travel to Oz to know that there’s no place like home.  Our homes are a reflection of who we are, what we love, and a literal foundation upon which we build a lifetime of precious memories.  When the time comes to sell, what can you do to conjure the feeling of home in potential buyers?  Consider this advice when preparing your home for sale.

What makes a house stand out at first glance?

Make a lasting first impression. The National Association of Realtors states that 63 percent of homebuyers will drive by after viewing a home they like on line.  Make your curb appeal count and let it serve as a preview of how much they will love the inside.

Take off your homeowner’s hat, go outside and walk around your entire home to see what buyers will see.  This includes looking up at your roof.  Are your shingles in good shape?  Do you need to clean, repair, or replace the roof?

Next take a good look at the paint. At roughly $25 per gallon, you’ll find that paint may be your new best friend.   Spruce up your front door and shutters.  Repaint your mailbox. If needed, consider having the house and trim repainted entirely.

Most people underestimate the impact of power-washing.  Brighten up your sidewalks, decks, driveway’s and garage floor with a good power wash.  This is an extremely cost-effective way to boost your curb appeal!

Last, but not least, add some touches to make your exterior pop.  Make sure your landscape is neat and tidy.  Add colorful flowers both in your landscape beds and in pots.  Hang a wreath on your front door. Replace your porch fixtures and add a new door mat to welcome potential buyers home.

What remodeling or updates are buyers shopping for now? 

The one room in your house that can make or break a sale for most potential buyers is the kitchen. If your kitchen stands out above the rest, your home is likely to shoot to the top of a buyers’ list.

For older homes, consider a kitchen remodel.  Minor remodels are often enough to do the trick. Keep in mind that your goal is to appeal to the masses.  Think in terms of current trends like energy efficient appliances, updated light fixtures, attractive new cabinet hardware, solid surface counter tops, and cabinet resurfacing.  Popular trends also include pantry drawers, waste-recycling cabinetry, and soft-close drawers and cabinets. Be mindful of your investment and look to receive 70 – 80 percent return on your investment.

If your kitchen is already upgraded and attractive, great!  Your mission is a simple one.  Declutter and depersonalize. Think in terms of “less is more”.  Let buyers see less of your appliances and gadgets, and more of your beautiful counter tops. If you’re a collector (think refrigerator magnets or art deco roosters), pack your gems away so buyers can imagine the space as it would look if it were there home.

What bath fixtures are big wins for sellers?

Much like the kitchen, bathrooms are a high priority for buyers.  Depending on the price point of your home, your investment in the bathroom may vary.  For high end homes, sellers can safely invest in trendy new amenities like free standing garden tubs (Calgon, take me away!) and floating sinks.  Standard wins for all sellers include solid surface counter tops, new faucets, updated light fixtures, attractive bathroom mirrors, clean grout, and gleaming sinks, tubs and shower stalls. Bathroom upgrades tend to bring in 90 – 100% return.  But again, be mindful of your home’s price point and plan your upgrades based on your anticipated sale value.

What is the updates can sellers do to have the biggest impact?

One of the least expensive and easiest updates sellers can invest in is a fresh coat of interior paint to set the tone for a clean and well-maintained home.  Walls, ceilings, doors, and trim.  Choose light, neutral colors for the walls for a soft relaxing atmosphere that will appeal to the majority of home buyers.  Use a satin or semi-gloss paint on the doors and trim.  Buyers will appreciate the easy maintenance in the future.

Another easy project with big impact is flooring.  Most buyers today look for homes with little to no carpet.  If you do have carpet, make sure it’s in great shape and free of stains and odors.  Pet owners should pay particular attention to carpeted areas.  If the carpet needs replacement, consider installing wood or tile in it’s place. At a minimum, if installing new carpet, be sure to choose a light, neutral color.

Combining fresh interior paint with updated flooring will get your home under contract more quickly, and provide a great return on investment!

Does a house sell better furnished or unfurnished or somewhere in between?

All the world’s a stage. When preparing your home for sale, you’ll need to set the scene. It’s important not only to have your home furnished, but staged well too. While you may not be convinced that feng shui is the perfect solution to your inner peace, it may be the solution to selling your home faster (which could lead to inner peace).

We mentioned earlier about decluttering and depersonalizing your home.  It’s worth mentioning again. Make your home as neutral as possible allowing potential buyers to envision their belongings in the space. Keep the size of each room in mind when staging. Oversized furniture can make rooms appear smaller than they are.  Scale down the furniture to make your home look spacious and inviting. Donate or store furniture and personal items rather than clutter your garage and closets.

Speaking of closets, put a spotlight on how much storage your home has.  Clean, organize, and declutter your closets, pantry and cabinets. Just because a closet or cupboard has a door, doesn’t mean it’s off limits. Buyers can, and will, explore these areas so make sure to add them to your staging.

Homes filled with natural lighting are bright and cheery, especially through freshly cleaned windows.  Open the blinds and curtains for showings to flood your rooms with sunshine!  If natural lighting is not one of your homes best features, don’t worry.  Add floor and table lamps to areas not well served by natural or ceiling lights.  Brighter is better so light it up!

Think of the potential buyers as an audience. Will they be wowed with your home or will they leave disappointed? If your audience comes back for an encore performance, chances are your staging could bring them all the way to the signing table.

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