1) A Deep Clean
Try moving your sofa. Yeah. See all those cookie crumbs? That’s what I’m talking about. Remember that potential buyers will only be with their Realtor while viewing your home and they are not afraid to open your fridge, oven, and closet. I’d tell you the worst story I can think of, but I don’t want you to lose your lunch here. Hiring a cleaner is NOT out of the question either! In fact, if it’s worth it to you to save the time and stress, I’d highly recommend it. The best part about a deep clean (besides the obvious), is that it can conquer smells that you might have become used to as well. Our furry friends are huge contributors to dirtier floors, upholstery, and overall wear on the home. Have your house sparkling when buyers walk in and you’ll be sure to win-over their first impression.
I realize that all the nicknacks you have laying around are important to you and probably very tasteful. But when buyers walk in to your home, they want to see the actual home itself. Minimal always wins. I always tell sellers that if they can live without it for the next few months, pack it up now and get a storage unit for those items, or arrange neatly in the garage. Not only will it clean up the appearance of the home, it’ll also be that much less you have to pack when it comes time to move. Your kids are also cute. And so are all their little drawings from school. But we don’t want to see those all over the front of the fridge or sitting on every open bookshelf and ledge in your home. Again, potential buyers want to envision themselves living in the home — not picturing themselves moving in to someone else’s home. The kitchen counters should have nothing on them either! Depersonalize, and you get a high five.
3) Touch-Up Paint
Sometimes repainting an entire home is necessary, but if your walls are still in decent shape, consider at least touching them up. Also, take your extreme shades down a notch. Just because your neon purple “accent wall” appealed to you five years ago, does not mean we all share your same great taste…. Choose light and neutral colors like a nice greige (grey/beige) and Benjamin Moore’s color of the year: Simply White. Though high contrast and pops of intense color are making a comeback, we’ll let the new homeowners be the creative’s.
Bathtubs are another area that buyers will almost always be curious about. If the condition of them could benefit from repair due to age or hard wear, consider a refinishing project. You can purchase kits at Home Depot and knock it out in a weekend. I’ve had sellers complete this task in a couple days and it made a huge difference! Here’s a link to a DIY site.
4. Minor Replacements
Switching out hardware on your kitchen cabinets can subtly enhance the feel of the space. Many times it’s these smaller changes that can make the biggest difference. Another suggestion is replacing your doorknobs throughout the home to match. Opt for something more modern such as brushed nickel or stainless steel. If you have the funds, I’d also recommend replacing any light fixtures that are outdated. You don’t need chandeliers in every room (though I am all for tasteful chandeliers!), but you will want to ditch the 1980’s fluorescent light boxes in the one room where everyone gathers, at least.
5. Landscaping and Curb Appeal
Besides using the internet to search for homes, many people enjoy driving around first to see if the property will meet their expectations. This is their first impression; whether it’s in person or the first picture they see of your house online, it will be judged. You want the exterior and landscaping at its best. If your grass hasn’t been mowed in weeks, or you have Christmas lights up from six months ago, or there are random toys laying around, it’s like having a great personality but going on a blind date in your pajamas — a wonderful interior but presented very poorly. Consider hiring a landscaper if you have serious issues. Plant bright flowers if the season allows, repaint your front door, and create a welcoming front porch or entrance without using excess decorations or holiday gear. Whatever it takes to get that second date!
Within the first 7-10 seconds that a buyer walks into your home, they will have formed an opinion. Geez, this is more like dating than I thought…. lack of confidence will kill the deal. Although this is a piece we may not need, the ROI will blow you away and it’s important to at least be open. According to the National Association of Realtors, staged homes generate a return of 8-10%, while the investment is between 1-3%. Some of you have great taste, but don’t be offended if your agent suggests hiring a stager. Many times, they can use pieces you already have in your home and bring in others items. When it becomes most critical is when your home is vacant. Remember the goal is to help the potential buyers truly see themselves living there, and that can be difficult when it’s completely empty. And another impressive tool in my toolbox: digital staging (which is also less expensive). Welcome to 2016, folks.
7. Professional Photos
I hire a professional photographer on every. single. listing. And I firmly believe that every agent should 🙂 You can do everything else on this list but if your agent comes in with their camera phone to take pictures to advertise and market your home at its best, you must run. That is a disservice to you, and you might end up with Realtor John in the mirror of every bathroom picture… **facepalm**
This is my local photographer. And for once, I have nothing else to say. Mic drop.
In Colorado, you are required to disclose any known issues with your home. That could be a previous basement flood or a broken pipe from last winter. If there is an issue that you are unaware of, chances are very high that the buyer’s home inspector will find it. If it’s a deal breaker for the buyer (or you cannot fix) and they walk away, you now have to disclose those problems to future potential buyers. To eliminate the stress of the inspection period and the unknown, many sellers choose to do a pre-inspection, address any/all issues ahead of time, and provide the report in the home. Though this is not required, it will show you are prepared, confident, and easy to work with. Another high five!
9. Work With A Great Realtor
I didn’t write this whole thing for nothin’! What can I say? We are here to provide education, guidance, and become your advocate. We function on timelines to ensure your process is smooth, and are here to prepare you to sell your home quickly with the least amount of stress. And if you work with someone like me, we even make it fun 🙂
Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. Preparing your home to sell can be a huge process and can take a lot of time, so I encourage you to hire help when you can afford it, or call your best friends for a pizza and wine night to help out. Give me a shout if you’re in the Colorado Springs area and we can go through your home in person. If you’re somewhere else, I can help you find a great Realtor in any part of the country. Cheers to your home sale in 2016!