This top ten checklist was created to help you make your house more desirable to buyers when you put it on the market. The most important thing to do for your sanity and peace of mind is to start to disassociate yourself with your home. For some, more than others, this can be a challenge. Selling your home can be emotional. However, I suggest that you make the mental decision to let go of your emotional attachment to your “home,” and think of it as a “house” and focus on the fact that you will be soon living in another home. As hard as it may be, don’t look backwards, but focus forward on your future.
10. DE-CLUTTER! A de-cluttered home feels more spacious – and everyone wants more space. When you begin this process, ask yourself, “Have I used this in the last year?” If the answer is “no” then you probably don’t need it so make plans to sell or donate it. Think of this de-cluttering process as a head start on your packing to move. Pack up all your knickknacks, remove small appliances and other items from your kitchen countertops, remove books from your bookshelves and put essential items that you use daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet or drawer when not in use. It is also advisable to remove favorite items at this time. If you want to take window coverings, appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now and replace them with something else. If a buyer never sees it, they won’t want it.
9) DE-PERSONALIZE! Protect your privacy and pack up your personal family heirlooms and photographs. Don’t distract buyers with your treasures. Instead, provide them with the space to image where they will place their personal family photographs and treasures. Furthermore, and I apologize if I offend, but for the most part, religious objects should be put away while showing your home too. Whatever your personal beliefs may be, they may be diametrically opposed to that of the family that wants to purchase your property, and can in some cases be an issue.
8) MAINTENANCE! You might not care if the gutters fall off the house because they are choked with leaves – but your buyer does! If you aren’t performing maintenance on the visible aspects of your home, it’s going to raise suspicions about what remains unseen. So, clean the gutters, power wash the siding, weed the garden beds and make sure that all those odd jobs that you’ve been putting off are taken care of. Get the furnace cleaned, check the fireplaces, and check the roof for loose shingles and leaks. Take the time to fix leaky faucets, replace burned out lights and fix doors that don’t easily close or drawers that jam. It’s pay now, or REALLY pay later on these issues!
7) DON’T BE LAZY-MAKE YOUR HOUSE SPARKLE! Be proud of your house and show it in its best light. Take the time to wash the windows inside and out, clean out the cobwebs in the corners of your basement. Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks. Polish chrome fixtures, remove fingerprints from stainless steel appliances and mirrors. Clean out your fridge, vacuum and wax floors. Rent a power washer and make the pathway to your home look great! Make sure visitors can clearly read the number of your house. Paint walls that are showing major wear and tear, like children’s bedrooms, and hallway in neutral colors. Invest in new towels; (white ones always freshen a bathroom up!) replace worn rugs. Air out your house and make sure it smells nice, not musty. It may sound over the top, but be super-organized for those buyers that revel in snooping. Take the time to rearrange bedroom closets and kitchen cabinets. By lining up your shoes, and organizing your clothes to have them all hang and face in the same direction you will give the illusion of more space. Likewise, in the kitchen neatly stack your dishes, arrange your spice jars and turn coffee mug handles to all face the same way.
6) CLEAN OUT THE GARAGE AND RENT A STORAGE UNIT! You don’t want your home to appear as though it doesn’t have any storage space. Make sure your garage is functional. People are looking for space and storage – if it looks like you don’t have any – you’re not selling your house properly. Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Stage your home to highlight space. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper walkways and put them in storage. Store the empty book cases you created in your de-cluttering step. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger.
5) KNOW THE NEIGHBOURHOOD! Above and beyond knowing your neighbourhood, know what sells in your neck of the woods. Are you surrounded by condos and you have a single family home? Are there tons of 4 bedroom homes that sell like hotcakes, and you only have three? What will that mean? Can you make it up with other features in your home, – like a spacious den that could double as a bedroom – or maybe a room over the garage with potential? You need to know what is selling in your immediate surroundings, and even more important, what is NOT.
4) SET A REALISTIC BUDGET! If you want to do some upgrades in your home before you put it on the market, don’t over or under improve for your area. If you live in an area that caters to first time buyers in a certain price range, expensive upgrades may push you out of their price bracket. You want the house to look good, but don’t overextend yourself. Likewise, if you live in a high priced neighbourhood, where 75 to 100 thousand dollar kitchen renovations are the norm, don’t try and get away with an inexpensive upgrade. You won’t see any return in your investment – in fact – you are better off doing nothing but maybe adding some fresh paint and light fixtures, and pricing your home to reflect the lack of updates.
3) CALL YOUR MORTGAGE BROKER! Make sure you know what you can afford. Nothing could possibly be worse than finding out your “dream home” that you wanted to buy is out of your reach – and you just sold the home that you could have easily remained in! Interest rates change, as do your qualifications –Stay current.
2) CALL YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT. If you don’t have one, talk to people whose opinions you trust. Don’t be afraid to interview several real estate agents and ask them for honest opinions. When dealing with selling your home, you’ll need someone that will tell you the truth, even if it may not be what you hoped to hear. Of course, you could go with the one that says everything that makes your heart sing – but that song could change if your home languishes on the market.
1) PRICE YOUR HOME RIGHT! If you’ve done everything else, then you should know all the “ins” and “outs” of “what’s out there.” Don’t ruin all your hard work by pricing your home too high. Buyers won’t look at it, and they certainly won’t offer, especially in the first month. The longer your home is on the market, the less desirable it appears to be. Sometimes, that can’t be helped because of other factors, but trust me, if you price your place right, it WILL SELL.
This ten-step checklist was created to help make a huge difference in the success of your future home sale and your ability to move to your next property, whether you are downsizing, or you need more space.