If you’ve taken the plunge and decided to sell your home during this current downturn in the housing cycle, a little bit of “sweat equity and elbow grease” can help seal the deal. Though right now doesn’t appear to be the best time to sell your home, you can take these steps to make it irresistible to what buyers ARE out there. The key is to make your home as appealing to as many people as possible:
Boost Your Curb Appeal
1. Paint the exterior of your home. It’s amazing how a coat of fresh paint can boost a home’s curb appeal. If you cannot afford to paint the entire house, try painting the trim and the front door.
2. Store away any bicycles, skateboards, portable basketball goals, and toys. Make sure you get them out of view, but NOT re-cluttered in another part of the yard or house!
3. Do the windows. Clean and squeegee all windows, inside and out.
4. Trim overgrown shrubs and plant some colorful annuals.
5. Sweep your walkways, patios, and porches.
6. Use a pressure washer, if needed, to remove any mildew, algae, or dirt from walkways, vinyl siding, fireplaces, brick veneers, eaves, or fascia.
7. Speaking of fireplaces, remove any firewood that’s stacked against the house, even if stacked against brick. Firewood stacked against a house could be perceived as being conducive to a potential termite infestation.
8. Make sure your roof is in good condition (hint: use binoculars!). If it looks worn or damaged, get it repaired. If it’s really old, you may need to get it replaced. If your roof is stained, check with your local building materials dealer for products that remove roofing stains and for some reliable contractors that can do it.
9. Cut the grass. A well manicured lawn speaks to potential buyers saying, “These people take care of their home!” Cut the grass on Thursdays so it has a few days to recover and green up before the weekend, since weekends are when most home buyers are looking.
10. Make sure your outdoor pets don’t ruin the show. A back yard with a vicious dog isn’t very appealing.
11. Repair that driveway! Concrete guys says there are two kinds of concrete: cracked, and not cracked yet. Use a driveway crack sealer to close those inevitable cracks and make sure you clean up any oil stains. Check with a local hardware store or paint supplier to see what products are available in your area to remove oil stains from concrete.
12. Move any old or excess vehicles to another location. Don’t overcrowd your newly repaired and cleaned driveway! Park the boat and the RV at a friend’s house or put them in storage.
13. Make sure no one can see the trash cans from the curb. You want people to see the home, not the Waste Management cans.
14. Get rid of any old or worn out swing-sets or patio furniture. Better yet, invest in some inexpensive patio furniture to make the backyard more appealing. Maybe you could set out some fresh, homemade, ice cold lemonade for the potential buyers to enjoy during your open house.
15. Repair or replace any window screens that have been damaged.
16. Inspect for any insect nests (wasps, hornets) that may have taken up residence under the eaves on a side of the house you may not look at very frequently.
17. Repair your deck and the give it a good pressure washing. Consider putting on a neutral stain or even a water sealer on it.
18. Water your yard frequently to keep the grass green, but only water in the early mornings. It’s better for the grass anyway because it allows the water to seep into the yard before the sun can evaporate it.
19. Have your soil tested first, but consider using an iron based fertilizer. Iron helps a lawn turn green very quickly.
20. Have the yard exterminated so there are no ant beds or other visible pests.
21. Add mulch to the flower beds. I have a lot of pine trees next to my house so I get free pine needles for my flower beds.
22. Use a high quality weed-n-feed fertilizer. If it isn’t the right time to feed your lawn and it’s overrun with weeds, use an herbicide with 2-4d. Check with your local farmer’s cooperative to get this product. It will be cheaper and probably more concentrated than the watered down stuff at the big boxes.
23. Complete a visual inspection of the exterior and make arrangements to have any repairs to siding, moldings, or other items completed as soon as possible.
24. Make sure you roll up any garden hoses daily so they don’t leave those yellow snake lines on your lawn where it didn’t get enough sunshine.
25. Dress up your mailbox. Plant a few flowers around it, paint it, and make sure your street numbers are visible on it.
Make the Inside of Your House a Home…Someone Else’s Home!
26. Paint the interior! Paint is an amazing thing. The smell of fresh paint tells buyers that you’ve made an effort to dress up your home. Make sure you use a neutral color scheme that appeals to many, many people. It’s okay to use a bold color on an accent wall, but use caution. Many people can be turned off by bold colors.
27. Clean those counter tops. Put away toasters, crock pots, blenders, dishes (even decorative), and cookbooks that lie out on the counters. You’re looking to create a feeling of spaciousness. If your kitchen is small, this tip is crucial.
28. While you’re putting things away, consider removing any furniture that crowds a room. Put it into storage or donate it.
29. Make sure all appliances, heaters, air conditioners, fireplace starters, water softeners, toilets, faucets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and security systems are in perfect working order.
30. Clean up your laundry room and put away all clothing. Sweep behind and under the washer and dryer so there aren’t any lint bunnies scurrying around. While you’re at it, dust under the fridge and dishwasher too.
31. Clean your floors. Sweep and mop, clean the tile grout, and polish the hardwood floors. If you have carpets, get them cleaned. If you have stained carpets, get them professionally cleaned. Stains are not good for sales.
32. Make the bathrooms fit for a queen. They should sparkle, so clean the faucets, the sinks, the toilets, the tubs, the showers, and the shower doors. If you have a shower curtain, replace it with a new one.
33. Make all beds.
34. Open all draperies and blinds and turn on all the lights when you have people coming over for an open house.
35. Store your off season clothing to make your closets seem larger. While you’re at it, clean and organize those closets so they appear to be in perfect order.
36. Store away any knick-knacks that clutter up the coffee table, end tables, night stands, fireplace mantles, or bookshelves.
37. Clean out any ashes from the fireplace. If there is any soot around the fireplace, make certain it’s cleaned up. Close the damper if you’re not using the fireplace. BUT, if the weather is appropriate, burn some logs in that fireplace during an open house. Few things say “home” like a crackling fire!
38. Remove most, not all, personal pictures. Removing all of them is too obvious and makes the home look staged. If you do leave a few personal pictures, they shouldn’t be your 24″x36″ giant wedding picture from 16 years ago.
39. Make sure all toys are put away and that none are in the main living areas. Store toys in the kids bedrooms, preferably in the closet or toy box.
41. If you have pets, make sure they aren’t in the way and that their areas are clean and fresh. Cat boxes are tough. Clean them and the whole area very, very frequently. It’s hard to cover up “cat smell.”
42. Consider bringing in some fresh flowers and greenery.
43. Don’t leave out anything valuable such as cash (duh), jewelry, collectibles, prescription drugs, or artwork that could be damaged or mysteriously disappear.
44. Dust the baseboards. You’d be amazed at how dusty they can be.
45. Dust every horizontal surface in the house. That includes the tops of electrical face plates, the tops of picture frames, the top of the fridge, the tops of your cabinets, the tops of door and window casings, the fireplace mantle, the back of the TV, the light fixtures, the ceiling light fixtures, the bed headboard, the top of the mirror in the bathroom, as well as tables and other things you normally dust.
46. Make sure all clothing is picked up from the floor, including those socks that are under the bed.
47. Look for any walking hazards like extension cords or floor transitions and remove them or repair them.
48. Bite the bullet and keep the temperature at a very comfortable level.
49. Clean and organize all drawers, cabinets, and closets. You never know what door a potential buyer will open, so make sure everything is cleaned…including your “junk” drawer (hey, we ALL have one).
50. Clean and organize any area that you think doesn’t really matter. Have a walk in attic? Clean and organize it. You don’t have to make it pristine, but go ahead and neatly stack those boxes. Have a basement? Make sure its organized and free from that dank mildew smell. Seal it if you have to with a top quality sealer.
51. Caulk around all window and door frames to close any visible cracks and to make sure there are no drafts coming in.
52. Make sure there are NO stains on anything. Stains communicate bad things. If there’s a stain from some Mountain Dew on the sofa, a buyer will automatically smell a cat. If there’s an old stain on the ceiling from a repaired roof leak, a buyer will automatically think “mold.” Don’t give a potential buyer any excuse for looking at another house.
Selling a home right now is proving to be difficult for many people, but if you follow these tips, you can remove any doubts that your home is in anything but tip top shape, and that’s what you’re hoping to create in your buyer’s mind. You have them IN YOUR HOME. Make them want to stay. Make them feel so comfortable and “at home” that they never want to leave. Set the hook and reel them in with your pristine home!
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Add them by commenting below. Thank you!