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Get Ready For Spring And Ready To Sell
Is Your House Ready for Spring and Ready to Sell?
According to AOL Real Estate, “When it comes to showcasing your home for sale, there's no such thing as a house that's too clean.” And we’ve all heard the expression, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." This has never been more true than when trying to sell your home.
We’ve gathered several tips for readying your house from around the web -- some that you may not have already thought of:
The first step is to plan ahead - and be realistic about how much needs to be done and how long it will take. While minor repairs and improvements can be made after the house is on the market, try to get it as close to perfect as possible before the first showing or open house.
Martha Stewart's website provides a detailed Spring-cleaning checklist down to how-to techniques for window washing and replacing bathroom tile grout. Her advice: “After you read through the tips and techniques, tailor the list to your home and yard. Create a realistic schedule, keeping in mind that a single weekend won't suffice, as you'll need several days for more involved projects, such as shampooing carpets and organizing closets. Whether you prefer to proceed from the attic to the basement or start outdoors and wind your way inside, focus on one task at a time. And be sure to enlist the help of family members.”
Always be ready to show. According to HGdTV.com, once you’ve tackled the spring cleaning, “Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.”
Look at de-cluttering your home as an extra step that in the long-run will make moving a lot easier. If you’re really serious about de-cluttering for good, check out the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. It truly is life-changing to rid your house of unnecessary clutter for good!
If you’re pressed for time and are unable to de-clutter for good, consider renting a storage unit. Whatever steps are necessary, buyers need to be able to visualize where their stuff will go. And consider this: you might be able to de-clutter for cash: recycling used electronics can earn cash. As suggested by hgtv.com, “take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.”
AOL Real Estate also recommends going green when cleaning your home:
“These days, buyers are positively impressed by green kept homes (as in no toxic and chemically-laden cleaning products used). Also, consider avoiding highly scented cleaning products prior to your open house. They suggest that there is something to cover up, and many people are sensitive to synthetic fragrances found in common household cleaning and air freshening products.”
And this tip from Realtor Magazine: “Sniff out smells. Check the drip tray underneath your refrigerator and wash out any standing water from defrosting. Remove inside odors by washing the inside of the fridge with a baking soda and water solution. Boil lemon juice in your microwave and add it to your dishwasher to eliminate bad smells. Also, put the lemon rinds down the disposal. Add activated charcoal in the fridge to keep odors at bay.”
Here are some additional tips from hgtv.com that go beyond scouring and de-cluttering your home:
Maximize the light in your home. “After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.”
“Conceal the Critters: You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.”
“Don’t over-upgrade: Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.
Note: This is where the advice from your Real Estate Agent will come in handy - an experienced Agent can tell you which improvements will result in a huge pay-off, which ones will be “deal-breakers” for buyers, and which ones you can let slide.
“The kitchen comes first: You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.”
Make minor repairs, but again, consult your agent (or a contractor) before spending money unless it will result in a substantial return on your investment. Some simple, inexpensive repairs to consider:
Replace cracked floor or counter tiles;
Patch holes in walls;
Fix leaky faucets;
Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam;
Consider painting your walls neutral colors; and
Replace burned-out light bulbs.
Several articles suggest packing away personal items such as family photos and sentimental knick-knacks. The basis for this recommendation is that, “Buyers can't see past personal artifacts, and you don't want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here." (excerpted from homebuying.about.com)
Another suggestion from this site: Remove non-essential furniture. “Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around."
Remove items you have no intention of conveying with the house. Replace draperies, light fixtures, etc. if you want to take them with you. This will cut down on any confusion as to what conveys and what doesn’t.
Now that the inside of the house sparkles and is free from clutter, consider the outside (or, depending on the amount of work to be done and the weather, start with the outside and work your way inside).
Check Curb Appeal. If buyers won't get out of their agent's car because they don't like the exterior of your home, you'll never get them inside. Here’s a checklist:
Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior;
Keep the sidewalks cleared;
Clean up debris and mow the lawn;
Trim the bushes;
Paint faded window trim; and
Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
And finally, make sure visitors can clearly read your house number … who knows, someday it may be theirs!