In preparing your home for sale, start at the street. Remember that a first impression or “curb appeal” of your home is very important; you cannot undo a bad first impression. Will your home look inviting from the street and make prospective buyers eager to step inside? The impression upon entering your front door is also very important. Sometimes, small changes can make all the difference.
The focus is on relatively inexpensive steps to take in getting your home ready.
Outside Your Home
- Remove any clutter in the yard, including worn out or rusty yard furniture.
- Prune all trees, shrubs and plants, if needed.
- Plant flowering plants near entryway or place flowers in pots near your front door.
- If you have grass, keep it mowed and edged.
- Repair any major cracks in sidewalk and driveway.
- Make sure that gates are in good repair including hinges, latches, and paint. If rusty, repaint them.
- Make front doors attractive, clean away fingerprints, wash, paint, or refinish, if needed. Replace badly worn or sun damaged doors.
- Make sure doorbell or knocker works.
- Wash all windows thoroughly inside and out.
- Keep pool and spa clean and put away floats and toys.
- Keep any reflecting pools or fountains clean and in working order.
- Make sure that all exterior lighting works and that no light bulbs are burned out. Repair or replace broken fixtures.
- Wash, paint, or refinish mailbox, if needed.
- Check to see that your house numbers are visible and in good repair.
- Repair, remove, or replace any badly worn awnings.
- Consider having the exterior of your home power washed or painted, if needed.
Inside Your Home
- Put away clutter in all rooms.
- Clear personal items from counter tops and furniture.
- Make sure that your home smells clean. Replace air filters and air out the home.
- If you have pets, clean their areas often.
- Make sure your walls are clean and bright, wash or paint, if needed.
- Make sure that all interior light bulbs are in working order.
- Wash all glass surfaces including tables, mirrors and windows.
- Clean the cabinet doors in kitchen and baths and all countertops.
- Polish appliance surfaces in kitchen.
- Clean out the refrigerator, freezer, oven(s), and microwave interiors.
- Shampoo any dirty carpets. Consider new carpeting if badly stained or worn.
- Vacuum the floors, upholstered furniture, and draperies regularly.
- Dust all furniture and horizontal surfaces regularly and check for any cobwebs on ceilings and lighting fixtures.
- Wash bathroom floors and wall tiles, remove any mold or mildew on tiles.
- Replace missing, cracked or dirty grout around bath fixtures, tubs, showers, and kitchen sinks as necessary.
- Fix any leaking faucets or toilets; remove any mineral deposits on fixtures.
- Make sure that all door knob latches work and that door hinges don’t squeak.
- Clear out closets and shelves of those items you no longer need. Bulging closets make the house seem lacking in storage space.
- Organize what remains in your closets.
- Put away family photos and knick knacks, so they do not distract prospective buyers.
- Clear out the garage as well, removing items to short term storage if needed.
Set Up Preparations for Open Houses and Individual Showings
You may want to consider some rearrangement of your furniture before beginning to show your home. It is important that your home and its architectural features be highlighted rather than obscured by furniture placement. Make sure that sight lines of great outdoor vistas are clear and unobstructed, that comfortable seating is arranged around features such as a fireplace or built-in TV entertainment center, and have your traffic patterns open and clear. Too much furniture can make the rooms look smaller than they are, so store excess furniture with a neighbor or place in storage until the home is sold. Also remove most, if not all, of your personal items such as family photos and your collectibles. They are a distraction from the features of your home.
If your home is unfurnished, you may want to consider having the home staged with a minimal amount of furniture to help prospective buyers visualize how their furnishings will look in your house. Your Realtor can help you to arrange for this service.
Also, there are specific things that you should do before each showing or open house:
- Clear away clutter in all rooms. Put away detergents and cleaning tools, recycling bins, and take out the refuse.
- Clear grooming items from bathroom counters.
- Make sure the home smells clean.
- Have a vase of fresh flowers in the house.
- Set the air controls at a comfortable temperature.
- Open all drapes and blinds.
- Turn on all lights and lighting fixtures.
- Have soft music playing.
- Make sure all toilet seats are down.
- If you have exterior fountains, have them filled and operating.
- Plan to be away during the times of showing.
- Remove your pets from the home for showings.