Now the you have made the decision to sell your home yourself, there are many things you can and should do before listing your home in the MLS. Here are a few recommendations:
When talking with real estate agents, you will often find they refer to your property as "home" when talking to buyers. Yet if you are selling, they will often refer to it as a "house." There is a reason for this. A "home" is a much more emotional term than house. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate it is best to try and leave emotions out of it. It will help if you think of your house as a marketable commodity. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this effort, you may accidentally create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property. There are many things you can do to "de-personalize" your house, such as: putting away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks and souvenirs, cleaning the house and putting away shoes, clothes, and other personal items.
"Curb appeal" is the first impression your house makes.
Look at your home objectively from the street. Keeping the grass cut and the outside area tidy will help make a great first impression. Your lawn should be cut, edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. Rolling up garden hoses and putting away gardening tools will help to give it a great first impression.
Check your landscaping. It should be at least average for the neighborhood. If it is not, you may want to buy a few bushes and plant them. If you have a flower area, bright and colorful flowers will help to bring out the beauty of your house.
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and cleaned. Pet areas should also be kept clear of "debris."
You may want to paint or wash the exterior of the house (including window casings, shutters, and doors). The newer things look, the better!
Make sure to wash the windows inside and out and check for cracks and ease of opening.
Observe how your window treatments look from the outside and replace if needed.
Also check the gutters and chimney and clean them as necessary.
Over the years, many For Sale By Owners (FSBO's) have told us that the number one thing a home seller should do to sell their home, is to remove any clutter. After years of living in the same home, clutter may collect in ways that may not be evident to the owner. We recommend taking a step back and looking at your home as a potential buyer would. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. The goal is to have as much open, clear space as possible. It may be best to rent a storage unit for a few months rather than stacking boxes in space you may not have.
Painting interior rooms may be your best investment when selling your house. A fresh coat of paint can make a room look clean and bright. Remember that when choosing paint colors, you want to pick colors that will appeal to the widest number of buyers. Light colors are usually a good choice because they will help a room appear brighter and more spacious. Stay away from jarring colors such as pinks, oranges, and purples. Soft yellows and pale greens say “welcome,” lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones.
Where paint is not appropriate you may want to wash with a little soap and water (i.e. wall paper, paneling).
Crown molding that's at least six to nine inches deep and proportional to the room's size can add great detail on a budget.
Clean out and organize closets.
Remove anything you don't need or haven't worn in a while. Closets should only be half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.
Update window treatments. Buyers want light and views, not dated, heavy drapes. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.
Unless the carpet appears old and worn, or is an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner or shampoo the carpets yourself to save money. Waxing hardwoods floors to bring out the shine should also help.
Frequently replacing air filters will also help to keep the dust down around the home while it is on the market.
Upgrade / Update the kitchen and bathrooms.
These are make-or-break rooms. Make sure they're squeaky clean and clutter-free, and update the knobs, sinks, and faucets. By simply replacing these items you can give a whole new look to the room.
Wash all floors and bathroom tiles. Be sure to repair or replace any broken tiles.
Make sure to clean under the sinks and fix any leaks. Any damage that may have occurred should be cleaned up and fixed.
In the kitchen, you may want to add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker.
Pay attention to pet and/or cigarette odors.
Apologies to pet owners, but pets come with odors. You may have become used to them, but they may be quite noticeable to potential buyers. For those with cats, be sure to empty litter boxes daily and use plenty of baking soda. For dog owners, it may be best to keep the dog outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling "pet odor" carpet freshener on the carpet before a showing.
Another idea is to place scented potpourri around the house. And for a great "homey" smell, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls or home-made bread into the oven before a showing. Above are some of the things to consider when getting ready to sell your house. Even though it may take you a little time and effort to get your house ready to sell, it should definitely pay off in the end.
We do recommend hiring a home inspector and obtaining your own inspection report prior to listing. This will give you the edge when working with buyers and allow you to find and fix problems before you put your home on the market. It will also prevent any major repair surprises when the buyer hires their own inspector.
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