The best home-selling season of the year in most of the United States is fast-approaching. If you're planning to sell your home this spring, you should be getting ready now.
Any home will sell – if the price is right. But buyers will pay more for homes in good condition. Not only that, the market for houses that need a lot of work is much smaller than the market for houses in move-in condition. Most buyers prefer a home in move-in condition.
As anyone who has ever watched HGTV knows, buyers can't always see the good bones of a house that doesn't put its best foot forward. Making your home look its best, even when it hasn't been updated, is surprisingly easy and inexpensive.
Here are the top things to do to get your home ready to sell.
This step will by far make the most difference when it comes to selling your home. Cluttered rooms look smaller. Plus, prospective buyers often can't see beyond the mess to the house's good features. Remove all bric-a-brac (except for a few well-chosen pieces) and piles of stuff. Clean everything off your refrigerator and countertops.
2. Remove some of your furniture
Most people still live in their homes while they are being sold, so you can't remove things like beds – and, you don't necessarily want to, because your furniture helps prospective buyers see how the rooms can be used. But, you can remove oversized furniture pieces in small homes, bookshelves, shabby chairs and other non-essential pieces that make the home look crowded. Renting a storage space is one way to get your clutter and extraneous furniture out of the way. Books, out-of-season clothing, big sporting equipment, and other items can also be stored to make the home (and storage areas) look more spacious.
3. Get rid of personal décor
Remove all your personal and family photos, collections, knick-knacks and religious symbols. A new family wants to envision itself in your house, and the symbols of your family can inhibit that process. Put those items in your storage space and look forward to displaying them again at your new home.
4. Deep clean
If you're not a great house cleaner, hire a company to come in and give your house a deep cleaning. This includes looking near the ceilings for cobwebs, cleaning under beds and washing windows. Dust bunnies don't make a good impression. Have a plan to vacuum, dust and put everything away before showings.
5. Spruce up the yard
"Curb appeal" matters. Plant colorful flowers, or add them in pots around the front door. Update your house numbers and mailbox, and paint the front door if needed. Your goal is to make your home appealing to someone who drives by (or drives up to view it). You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
6. Repair small things
People assume that a homeowner who doesn't repair small things doesn't repair big things, either. Hire a handyman to patch up that hole in the closet you've lived with for years.
7. Make selected home repairs
You rarely will recoup an investment in big-ticket repairs such as a new kitchen or new bathrooms. But consider whether new vanities, new light fixtures or other less expensive renovations will modernize the look of your home enough to attract more buyers. If your house looks dingy, inside or out, a fresh coat of paint will make a big difference. In some cases, "renovation" may mean removing something, such as heavy draperies or outdated valences.
A few well-chosen décor pieces can really make a difference in the presentation of a home. When my house was for sale, I bought a white bedspread and white bathroom towels, which I kept out only when I knew prospective buyers were coming. Fresh flowers and a few well-chosen décor pieces can make a home so much more appealing.
9. Remove pets when you can
If you can't remove your pets while your home is for sale, make sure there is no trace of their smells. Dirty litter boxes can destroy the atmosphere of even the nicest home. Clean pet areas daily and vacuum up pet hair frequently.
10. Let the sunshine in
Buyers don't like dark houses. If you know someone is coming, open all the window coverings, in all the rooms, even the bathrooms, and open all the doors to all the rooms. Turn on all the lights, too.
11. Make a plan for showings
Often, will you get an hour's notice or less when someone wants to view your house. The more people who see it, the more quickly you are likely to sell. Have a plan you can execute quickly when you know prospective buyers are coming. That plan should include removing or sequestering pets and getting all the family members out of the home, even if you just go out in the yard. Designate a place you can quickly stash dirty towels, the kids' latest artwork and the small appliances on your counters. Then, quickly bring out the fresh towels, bedspreads and other décor items you use only for showing.