Have you found the perfect new home but need to sell your current house first? This is a common situation many people find themselves in for one reason or another.
While you will need to repair or disclose any large problems with your house, there are many low cost improvements you can do yourself to make your home more attractive to potential buyers. If your house looks well cared for, buyers are likely to assume that what they can’t see has also been maintained.
Plan on spending some time to give your house curb appeal and improving the “wow factor” when potential buyers walk in the front door for the first time. The time and money spent sprucing up your house will be more than worth it as it will help sell the home faster and for a higher price.
- A well-kept lawn makes a great first impression. Spruce up the lawn by mowing, trimming, weeding and removing all yard clutter.
- Trim your trees and bushes, as well as weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds – it gives a fresh and maintained look for a low cost. Plant colorful flowers in places that could use some brightening.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to wooden fences, or power wash PVC fencing.
- Power wash home’s exterior, driveway, walkway, patio and deck.
- Consider repainting the house if the exterior paint looks old, faded, or is peeling. You will need to clean the exterior of your house before painting, so power wash first as sometimes that is all that is needed to make the exterior of the house look new again.
- Repair any cracks in the driveway, walkways, or patios.
- Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached, clean of debris and functioning.
- Clean windows inside and out – make them sparkle.
- Make sure your house numbers are easy to see, and consider getting new ones if it would improve the look from the street.
- Make sure the front door looks good and operates smoothly. Replace the lockset if necessary, replace any damaged or old weather-stripping, and repaint or re-stain if necessary.
- Buy a new welcome mat and make sure the front porch is clean and free of clutter.
- Place potted flowers near the front door. Bright colors can invoke a positive feeling about your home.
- Pack up everything you can get by without, such as personal belongings and furniture. Rent a storage unit if necessary. This will make your house seem larger and allow prospective buyers to imagine their belongings and furniture in the house.
- If you plan on taking any window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, such as a special chandelier in the dining room, remove them before showing the house. This will eliminate any disappointment or hard-feelings from potential buyers which could cost you the sale.
- Thoroughly clean every inch of your house, especially kitchen, bath, and laundry areas.
- Repair any cracks, holes, or other damage to walls, doors, and moldings.
- If necessary, paint dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
- If carpeting is in good condition and neutral in color, have it cleaned. If not, replace it. Off-white carpet is best; this makes the rooms look larger and cleaner. If replacing the carpet pad, select a very thick one, and then install a modest grade of carpeting. The feel will be plush and expensive without the high cost.
- Clean or refinish wood floors. Wash and wax vinyl flooring.
- Make sure all doors operate smoothly and locksets work easily and latch properly.
- Replace or repair any leaking or dripping faucets.
- Replace cabinet hardware if it looks old or worn.
- Thoroughly clean and power wash the garage floor, and remove anything that doesn’t need to be there. Clean any cobwebs and dust from walls, windows and ceilings. Make sure the garage door operates smoothly and replace light bulbs with the brightest bulbs your fixtures allow to add more light.
- Be aware of odors from cooking, smoke, and pets. This can be a major issue for prospective home buyers. Air out the house, use deodorizers, and have your carpets and furniture cleaned. Air out or dry-clean your drapes.
Staging Your Home
- Do whatever you can to stage your home to make it look attractive to potential buyers. Study magazine ads, furniture showrooms, and websites such as Pinterest to see how small details can make rooms more attractive and appealing. The effect of a vase of flowers, an open book on the coffee table, a basket of birch logs by the fireplace, etc., can make the difference in a room.
- Replace mats or rugs for areas in front of sinks and in the laundry room.
- Keep a set of nice new towels handy to put in bathrooms while showing the house.
- Move or remove any furniture that blocks the flow of the rooms.
- Make sure all window coverings are hung level and leave all shades and curtains open with lights on while showing the house.
- If you have a small or narrow hallway, consider hanging a mirror to make it appear larger.
- Use plastic bins or cardboard boxes to store kid’s toys and other personal items under beds while showing the house.
- Keep all counters, tables and desks clean and free of clutter. Hide soap, sponges, and garbage cans under sinks while showing the house.
- Remove off-season clothing from all closets, especially in the entry, and clean and organize them as potential buyers like to inspect closets and this will make them appear larger and more inviting.
- Recent studies have shown that humans have strong, positive responses to certain smells. Cinnamon, fresh flowers, bread or cookies baking in the oven are all excellent ways to enhance your property for sale in the minds of potential home buyers.
By properly preparing your house for sale, you allow prospective buyers to visualize the home as their own and greatly improve your chances of selling the home faster and for a higher price.
By John Rives