Taking the time to get yourself organized and prepared for a home sale is incredibly important. So, I have put together this list of tips to help you succeed.
1. Declutter & Clean...and then clean some more!
You get one first impression on a buyer and a clean house helps make that a good one! If you are you living in the house with children, it can be a bit tough, but do the best you can. You can always try the old "throw everything in the closet" trick, but most buyers will look in the closets and see your mess. Instead, invest in some plastic storage containers and just start filling them up. Properly packed and stored clutter is better than loose clutter.
As far as cleaning goes, start with the windows and doors. You may not realize how dirty they've become and freshly clean windows will let more light in making your home seem brighter, which is always a plus. Wipe down kitchen appliances, as these also tend to build up a good amount of grime over time that most of us don't realize. Showers, tub and toilet are another must clean. After that, just make sure the whole house is vacuumed and dusted from ceiling fans to baseboards.
Little Timmy's soccer trophies, your yearly family portraits and your collection of vacation souvenirs may hold a special place in your heart, but these things can distract buyers. When you place your house on the market, it ceases being your "home" and becomes a product that you are trying to sell. You want any potential buyers to be able to envision themselves and their family in the house and trying to make it more of a blank slate will help that. So, please take down those hunting trophies and creepy old doll collections.
3. Get rid of kids and pets!
Not literally, of course. Being a parent and pet owner myself, I understand the perils. Toys scattered about, both from child and dog. The cat's litter box odor subtly creeping in the air. These are not things that help sell a house. Again, plastic storage containers are wonderful things, so grab a few to round up the toys and slide under the bed or at the bottom of a closet. Make sure litter boxes are cleaned regularly and maybe even moved into a basement or garage.
4. Get objective.
If you have lived in your home for any period of time, it may be hard to see it objectively. Of course you will have pride in your home and a lot of great memories, but this has no effect on it's market value. Your Realtor will help act as an objective third party. Your home is a product and we see it as potential buyers will see it. We won't see your memories of birthday parties and the place where little Lucy took her first steps, because buyers won't see those things. Buyers won't care about all the time you spent fixing it up and all the sweat equity you put into it making it into your home. They will just see the finished product. Our job is to help you see the home and it's value as the market dictates by using hard numbers and comparable properties.
The longer you live in a home, the more you get used to some of the little things that you probably should have taken care of long ago. Chipped paint, scuffed baseboards, broken light fixtures, etc, are things you should repair before you list. Your Realtor will be able to give you an idea of what you should try to take care of and what you should go ahead and get some estimates for, so that prospective buyers will be aware.
6. Curb Appeal
You don't need to hire a professional landscaper to take care of the outside of the home. Keeping the lawn mowed, weeds pulled, garden beds mulched and branches & shrubs trimmed will go a long way. Adding some new flowers, either in the ground or in pots near the front entry way will help make that first impression a great one. If your front door is older and worn looking, a fresh coat of paint can really do wonders! The front of your home is typically the first thing that buyers will see, so it's worth spending some time and money to make it look good.
7. Stage it!
In addition to cleaning, decluttering and depersonalizing, your Realtor may make some other staging suggestions. Rearranging or even removing a piece of furniture can often help the flow and feel of a crowded living room. Storing counter top appliances away will open up valuable counter space in the kitchen. Changing out or removing window treatments to improve lighting, removing artwork from walls, clearing off coffee and end tables and styling the dining room are all things that your Realtor may mention, so be open to suggestions.
There will be plenty of paperwork when you list and when you sell your home, but I'm not talking about that paperwork. Buyers want to know about repair and maintenance schedules of the homes mechanical workings and appliances. So, make sure you have records and warranty info for your home's HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as household appliances. Buyer's will also usually want to know about utilities and the cost to run the home throughout the year, so make gas, electric, water and any other utility bills available for viewing.