Selling your house can be an incredibly stressful time for many. It can be stressful and expensive if the homeowner doesn’t have the correct guidance when putting their property on the market. Luckily, there is lots of help out there to assist homeowners as they begin the process of selling a house. If you take a weekend (and enlist the help of family and friends, ideally) to improve some basic visual elements of your house, it can improve your odds of making a sale exponentially. It doesn’t take major remodeling to unload a house, sometimes all you need is to do some basic, easy repairs and projects to get those buyers looking your way.
Before you are up to your neck in paperwork, home inspectors, credit report APIs, and moving boxes, get your current home sold to the next lucky owner.
Try to Make It Fun
First off, take time to detach yourself emotionally from your home. This will help you become more objective about what is appealing to potential buyers, and to fix things that might be unappealing to others. The spare bedroom has sentimental value to you because you remember painting it for your firstborn child in 1996, but it doesn’t have any kind of appeal to a buyer. To them, it looks like a room with tack holes in the wall from NSync posters, and a color scheme that matches the local high school football team’s colors.
Once you have separated yourself from the past you have in the house, you can look at the house more like a potential buyer would. You’ll be better able to see flaws that need fixing to make it more sellable. Call up your friends, and get the blender out. Some free appetizers and a few pitchers of margaritas may just buy you the help of some of your true blue friends to kick in a spare hand when spit-shining your house before you put it on the market. Heck, they might even take some of your unneeded clutter home with them.
Increase Curb Appeal
You need to keep up with the outdoor maintenance meticulously until your house sells. Even if you are living elsewhere while selling your home, the lawn needs to be mowed just as often as if you lived there. If you are too busy with work and your new yard, or if you have moved out of area while trying to sell your last home, you need to hire a lawn service to keep the lawn looking great, the hedges trimmed, and the flower beds/gardens free of weed patches and scrubby baby trees.
This extra expense might be a bit painful if you can’t swing doing the extra yard work by yourself or by a family member (or members) every week, but if you think about the raw opinions some neighbors/strangers make when someone doesn’t take time to mow their lawns, pick up dog poop, or trim their trees and hedges,
Tips to Spruce Up a Yard:
- Consider cutting down any trees that have dead branches, are lopsided, or are just not pleasing to look at. The same goes for overgrown shrubs or bushes. Don’t go too crazy and cut down an asset like a 100-year-old oak, but consider what looks nice to most home buyers, especially if you are a garden fanatic who is a sucker for having a million plants. Even yards can look cluttered if too many shrubs, small trees, or bushes are crowding out the yard. (Unless you have a xeriscape garden, which is a whole different deal.)
- Plant a few new shrubs to replace the overgrown monsters you removed. Consider how nice model homes look, with new plantings.
- Mow and weed every Thursday or Friday until your house is sold (most home viewings take place on the weekend)
- Keep your deck, porch, or patio swept and clean. Thoroughly clean lawn furniture (and keep it clean), throwing away any shabby, cluttered-looking, or damaged lawn furniture. Keep your outdoor seating areas and evergreen shrubs clear of spiderwebs, dead leaves and other debris.
Don’t Forget the Outside of the House
- Power wash the exterior of the home if needed, and get rid of cobwebs, hornet nests, or other unsightly problems.
- Touch up or paint and repair any screens that look shabby.
- Focus on the front door. Make sure the front door is cleaned and has a fresh coat of paint if needed. Sweep off the front porch, and buy a nice, new accent piece for the front entryway like a wreath to hang on the door. Buy something that you can bring along with you to your new home later. The front door/porch looking clean and inviting is much more important to buyers than most people realize.
Decluttering is Essential
A little bit of elbow grease can make your house fly off of the market. Plus, decluttering is a great way to lighten up that moving truck when you move to your new home.
- Organize and get rid of any and all junk. Have a huge garage sale. If you still have boxes in the garage that haven’t been unpacked from the apartment you had prior to buying the house you are preparing to now sell, you absolutely must go at those boxes voraciously and get rid of absolutely everything you haven’t used in 5 or more years that isn’t some kind of cherished heirloom. Plenty of young people could use your old kitchenware, lamps, or other household items that are tough to accumulate on a tight budget when starting out in life.
- Even “heirlooms” might need to be put somewhere other than your closets or garage. If you have no place to display or neatly store items that are important to you, you might want to consider a storage unit for them, even if it is only until you have sold your home and moved into next.
- The most troublesome spots for ugly clutter in the house are usually the garage, the pantry, the entryway closet, and linen and bedroom closets. Anybody who is really interested in buying your place is going to want to see inside the closets, so it’s important to make them very presentable, right along with the rest of the home.
Inside the House
Once your lawn and clutter are sorted out, now focus on the inside of your home.
- Spare Bedrooms: Make each room serve a purpose. Show a spare room as a home office, a crafting room, or a fitness room.
- Bathrooms: Add spa elements to your bathrooms, like neatly folded towels or fancy soaps on the counter. Always make sure your bathrooms are clean and the toilet seat is down before showing the house.
- The Kitchen: Make sure the kitchen is sparkling clean. If your kitchen needs a fresh coat of paint because of wear and tear, give it one. The same thing goes for the Master Bedroom.
- Lighting: make sure the rooms are well lit. Add some affordable LED lighting to dimly lit rooms or to closets, and always open up the shades before showing the house.
- Other people’s houses smell funny: Make sure you load up on the candles and air fresheners during the showing of your home to potential buyers. The old “bake some cookies the morning of a showing” trick is tried and true because it is a genuinely good idea. Don’t try to mask problems like carpet that has been urine-stained by a cat or dog with air fresheners.
- Speaking of Pets: Spend a few dollars to replace pet-stained carpeting if you want to get the price you need for the home. Get rid of litter boxes during the sale of a house. If this means the kitty needs to make a brief visit to grandma’s house for a few weeks, then make it so. Things like damage to the house that leaves nasty stains or smells behind can be a deal-breaker for many people who aren’t looking for a fixer-upper that has a low price tag to match. Since lots of people don’t like pets or don’t like them in the house, you need to temporarily hide your pets (and pictures of your pets, as well as pet accessories) until the house is sold.
Hopefully, these tips will help your house sale be less painful. If you do a little footwork, there’s no reason that your house won’t sell right away, for the price you want.