|Prepare Your Home|
Keep it clean
Look at your home as though you’re seeing it for the first time. Is every room neat, spotlessly clean, dusted and uncluttered? Steam clean carpets and wax floors. Wash walls, heating and A/C vents and light fixtures. Pay special attention to your bathroom and kitchen – make sure that tile grout is mildew free and baseboards scrubbed. Clean the refrigerator and stove as well as the washer and dryer (inside and out). And, don’t forget about the windows! Make sure that all windowpanes, ledges and blinds are spick and span.
Lose the clutter
Have a yard sale or take old furniture, clothing and knick-knacks to Goodwill. Organize shelves, put away items and purge your home of unnecessary items. Make sure that your kitchen and bathroom counters are free of small appliances and personal effects.
De-personalize your home
Make your home "anonymous,” so that buyers can envision it as their potential home. Put away any family photos, sports trophies, collectibles, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. This will also help to remove clutter and create more space.
Adding a fresh coat of paint and laying new carpet will clean and brighten up your home. Choose neutral colors and make it consistent throughout the home. If you choose to wallpaper, make sure that the paper is properly applied, your color choice is neutral and patterns are kept to a minimum.
First impression count
Like a first date or job interview, the first impression of your home is the most important. Walking into a home with fingerprinted screen door windows or cluttered entranceways, can influence the potential homebuyer’s decisions. Likewise, strong odors can ruin a sale, so pay close attention to pet, cooking and cigarette smells in your home. Light delicately scented candles or have cookies baking in the oven when you’re showing. Fresh flowers, especially in the spring and winter, can help to brighten and energize your home.
Homebuyers decide whether or not to look inside a house by the appearance of your home’s exterior. Paint or wash the outside of your home. Check your gutters and chimney and make necessary repairs. Keep your lawns trimmed and flower beds weeded. Clear the driveway and yard of children’s toys and store away unsightly trashcans. Use urns to define walk spaces and ensure that window boxes are full of healthy all-season plants. Replace any broken or dated light fixtures and wash windows and ledges. If you have a garage, make certain that it is neat and clutter-free.
Create the illusion of space
To make your home seem more spacious, it is key to de-clutter and re-organize. Start by removing excess furniture to make rooms feel more open and replacing any items that are not appropriately sized for the room. For example, oversized couches, while comfortable, can make a room seem smaller than it actually is. Clean and organize your closets and remove excess clutter from all areas of your home. Store unnecessary items in an out of the way location or rent a temporary storage unit. Strategically placed mirrors can also help to create the illusion of more space.
Ensure that the décor of your home is modern and tasteful. Replace outdated furniture, wall coverings and window treatments. Use neutral tones on your walls and floors and add color with removable items such as throw pillows or bedding. Steer away from too many personal touches to create a minimalist and contemporary space.
“Love me, love my pets,” doesn’t apply when selling your home. Take your pets with you when your house is being shown, or at least keep them outside. Pets under foot will quickly put a damper on an otherwise positive showing. While making sure that your house is odor-free and spotless applies to everyone, pet owners need to take special care. Be sure to empty and hide unsightly kitty litter, lint brush your furniture and put your furry friend’s toys, dishes and scratching posts away during showings.
Beautify your backyard
Don’t forget about your backyard. A house showing doesn’t always end at the backdoor. Beyond size and layout, potential buyers can also be influenced by the state of your yard. Keep the lawn, hedges and flowerbeds manicured. Try to recreate an entertaining area (even in the winter) by sweeping decks, cleaning and setting-up patio furniture and removing torn BBQ covers. Buy exterior storage containers to hide gardening tools, kids toys and pool supplies. If you have a pool, ensure that the cover is pulled back, that the water is inviting and the lining algae-free. Lastly, interested buyers may decide to look inside your shed, so make sure that it is organized and clean.
|Avoid 7 Costly Mistakes of Selling Your Home|
Mistake 1: Putting the home on the market before it's ready. Most times this happens because the seller gets impatient or is a procrastinator and has pushed himself up against a moving deadline without getting the pre-sale work done. So it comes on the market with the horrible carpet (that gets replaced during the marketing of the home); or they are painting it while it goes on the market. Presentation is everything -- so get the work done before marketing the property.
Mistake 2: Over improving the home for the neighborhood. This happens with additions, bump outs, and upgrades that make the home stick out from among its competitors so much that it's an anomaly, instead of a nice addition to the community.
Mistake 3: Pricing the home based on what the seller wants to net. This pricing strategy always ends in failure. Sellers can control the "asking" price, but they don't control the "sales" price. The market does. It doesn't matter what the seller wants, the price is determined by the black-and-white, matter-of-fact reality of the market.
Mistake 4: Hiring an agent based on non-business factors. Make sure you're hiring a professional with a proven track record. It might be nice to hand over your largest asset to your nephew who just got his license -- but make sure he has a mentor to keep your deal from going south.
Mistake 5: Getting emotionally involved in the sale of the home. This is one of the biggest challenges home sellers face when putting their house on the market. Once you decide to sell your house, it's no longer a home, but a commodity. It needs to be prepared as a commodity, marketed as a commodity, and priced as a commodity. It doesn't matter what you "want," only what the market can bear on pricing. People are going to come in to kick the tires, so to speak, and you can't get emotional about how they may or may not appreciate the nuances of your home of seven years.
Mistake 6: Trying to cover up problems, or not disclosing them. Most states have a property disclosure/disclaimer form -- use it wisely. Just because you disclaim doesn't mean you cannot be sued later for the leaky basement, or dilapidated heating/air system that's discovered 30 days after settlement.
Mistake 7: Not getting your ducks lined up before trying to sell. This would involve financing, reading the fine print on your current mortgage to ensure no pre-payment penalties, not listening to the particulars of your local market, etc. If your local market is dictating lower home prices, then lower it early, not later -- it will cost you more. If the local market dictates selling your home first, then buying second, do it in that order, or vice versa.
Avoiding these mistakes is not that difficult. There are plenty of resources (like this publication) and professionals, who are there to help you step over the pitfalls. Do the research early, and listen to that voice in your head (it's probably the whispers of the finance, real estate, insurance person who's warning you of a hole you're about to step into). Sell well.