9 Steps to Prepping Your House to Sell
Your home is your castle, as the saying goes. You spent time and money, goodness knows, to make it just right. And now you’re moving on. What’s the first step?
Pulling up roots and planting a For Sale sign in the yard can challenge even the least sentimental among us. So making a mental and emotional adjustment may be the first step. You look around and see your family everywhere in your house. Even the trees in your yard have become personal!
Plan ahead to help smooth the course of change. Keep your focus on your new and exciting goal. Selling your house is the end of one journey and the beginning of the next.
Ask yourself: Does your house invite buyers to imagine themselves living in it? Bear in mind, finding a new home is not unlike falling in love. Buyers want to be swept away at first sight. And at some point, one will step through your doorway, take a look around, and hear bells ring.
But first, they will analyze your decor, criticize your wall color, and judge your housecleaning skills. Buyers are discerning, and well they should be. They are about to make the investment of a lifetime. What impression will your house make?
Take these steps to prepping your house to sell:
1 Make it sparkle. Clean and polish everything, inside and out. Go beyond surface cleaning. Deep cleaning has never been so crucial. People will open your closets, peek inside your pantry, and pull out your drawers. They will eye every nook and cranny. Empty everything so the buyer can contemplate what they would put there.
2 De-clutter. Clear surfaces such as countertops, desks, and tables. Scrutinize all storage spaces and donate, recycle, or toss unused items. Clutter is a buzz-kill. Don’t empty your closets only to fill the garage with boxes—buyers will wonder if the house lacks enough storage space. Rent a POD or find temporary storage in friend’s basement for items you want to keep. Sweep the floors in the garage, attic, and basement.
3 Make small repairs. Fix bent or torn window screens. Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Replace every lightbulb in the house. Buyers turn on lights, and the brighter the better. Call a handyman if needed, to repair plumbing or electrical issues.
4 Paint and clean the exterior. If you don’t plan to paint the whole house, at least give the front door a fresh coat. Choose a bright contrast to the main color. Clean out and repair roof gutters. Pressure wash the driveway and siding. Put out a new welcome mat.
5 Freshen interior walls. Putty nail holes, sand rough spots on interior walls. Spot-cleaning and touching up is more likely to highlight spots. Paint the entire wall for an even, clean look. Choose grays and milky whites. As much as you enjoy the orange wall in the study, a neutral palette reflects light and will open up the space, giving the appearance of more space.
6 Remove personal items. The family photos in the hall help make your house a home—for you. Now is the time to store them. Personal items distract. Allow the buyer to imagine her own family living there. How good are you at viewing things objectively? Most of us grow used to our surroundings and blind to what a buyer would see.
7 Banish odors. What odors, you say? Wash the dog’s bedding, and anywhere else she sleeps. Your nose may not detect it anymore, but other noses will. Wash bed clothes, and sprinkle baking soda over carpets and rugs before vacuuming to freshen daily. Freshen the air naturally, by rubbing a few drops of orange, eucalyptus, or juniper essential oil inside the vacuum cleaner.
8 Curb appeal. First impressions count, and for not a lot of money, your entryway can be a pleasing invitation to step inside and see what else the house has to offer. Trim and tidy bushes and trees, and keep the lawn mowed. Look at Pinterest and the cover of home and garden magazines for ideas. Heed the best advice when designing a fresh look: Keep it simple.
9 Interview real estate agents. An agent can give you helpful feedback about your property. Ask questions—we see all sorts of properties and can offer a practical sounding board for your concerns. You might set up a schedule for discussing finances, home repairs, and opening your house to buyers. An agent can help you manage the process of selling in your preferred timeframe.
You have some control over the way buyers perceive your home. Take the buyer’s perspective, and it will be a win-win. The buyer gets their castle, and you stand a good chance of selling on your terms.