Looking to move up—or out? Naturally you want to sell your current home quickly and for the best price possible. Here are a few tips to get your home ready for today’s competitive housing market.
1. De-clutter. While your collection of album covers from the sixties and seventies may be a favorite topic of conversation among friends, it’s not going to help sell your home. Buyers have a hard time imagining their own furniture and knick-knacks in a space that’s filled up with someone else’s stuff. Select a few items to display here and there to give your home that personal touch, but relegate the ashtrays of the world to storage—basement or attic, or rent a storage unit if necessary. The same goes for any large furniture pieces that aren’t in use—less furniture means more space. Think of it as pre-packing your treasures so that you’re that far ahead on moving day!
2. Clean and brighten. It’s amazing how much brighter a room is when the windows are clean. Go over the entire house from top to bottom, dusting walls and ledges, get rid of cobwebs from corners, wash down woodwork, and scrub cabinets and appliances. Shampoo the carpets as well to get rid of any stains or musty odor, especially if you have pets. Here’s a hint for brighter, more open spaces: replace your light bulbs with new “soft-white” bulbs. Light bulbs tend to go dim over time, and conventional bulbs are harsher and yellower than the soft-white style. Fluorescents are also a bad idea when your home is on the market, since they tend to be dimmer when first turned on, needing a few moments to fully light up.
3. Freshen Up. You may not notice the smudges on the door frames or the chipped corners on the walls—but potential buyers will. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way toward making a home look larger, brighter, and cleaner, so break out your spackle and rollers and patch, touch up, or repaint tired walls. Just steer clear of strong colors that may turn buyers off.
4. Inspect from top to bottom. Check your home inside and out for potential deal-breakers: cracked fixtures, stuck windows, broken appliances, a clogged chimney, or a leaky roof. Savvy buyers will request a home inspection as part of the negotiations. Arranging one ahead of time makes you aware of any serious faults that could scare off potential buyers. A pest inspection is also a good idea—termite damage is easy to prevent, but costly to repair.
5. Make a great first impression! Potential buyers won’t ever see the hard work you’ve put into your home’s interior if they never get past the front door. The front of your home should be cheerful and welcoming, so keep the yard trimmed, leaves raked, and toys out of the driveway. Clean up flower beds, spread mulch under trees, perhaps set a few potted plants on your porch. Seasonal decorations should be tasteful and kept to a minimum.
With the number of houses on the market, you want to be sure yours stands out as a good value and ready to move into. None of these tips should put a huge dent in your pocket, but could mean a big difference to your bottom line on closing day. Happy selling!