Step 3: Pretty It Up
Once you’ve made repairs, chosen a Realtor®, and decided on an asking price, your home is almost ready for market—but first, how about a little primping and polishing? Or maybe a lot of primping and polishing. After all, you want your home to make a great first impression on buyers and to show your home in the best possible light, heed these savvy seller tips!
Stash your stuff
When you’re just living in your home, a bit of clutter is business as usual. You know the drill: video game cartridges in the bathroom, toolbox in the kitchen, tuxedo shirt inexplicably in the garage. But when you’re trying to sell, all this disorder can be deadly. “Sellers really need to remove as much of their clutter as they can so their home’s spaciousness is highlighted and to avoid having their home’s features lost,” says Steve Miller from the Nashville Home Guys.
One way to help pare down your belongings is to go room by room, boxing up anything you haven’t used or worn in at least six months. What’s that you say? There’s nothing you’re not using? Try anyway. You’ll probably be surprised by the stuff you won’t miss. (Bonus: You’ll have less to move later.)
One area where you’ll want to be merciless is your kitchen counter: Remove everything but your coffee maker, so people will think, “Wow, such a huge kitchen!” And to allow home buyers to really envision themselves living there, you’ll also want to pack up personal items such as the framed photos, report cards on the fridge, or your kid’s collection of “Star Wars” snow globes.
But don’t just stuff those things in the closet. Instead, stack boxes neatly in the attic, basement, or, best of all, a storage facility—the perceived extra space you add to your home could be worth the rental cost and then some.
Stage to sell
These days, home staging is all the rage: On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for a whopping 20% more than ones where home sellers just kept their furnishings in place. And while you can hire a professional stager, you can also cop a few of their tricks for free.
For instance, hanging curtain rods higher can give the illusion of taller ceilings. Well-placed mirrors can make rooms appear bigger and brighter. Want to go the extra step? Paint your walls white, layer in neutrals, then add pops of color with pillows or a cashmere throw on the couch for a cozy glow.
Push furniture out and away from each other to open up floor space, but be careful to keep window space clear. Conceal flaws whenever possible; if the view out a window isn’t great, put up sheer curtains so the light comes in but the scenery stays hidden. And as with all your possessions, think “less is more,” although stagers do sometimes strategically add furniture (such as a cozy reading chair in a bedroom corner) to give the illusion of more space. Go figure!
Boost your curb appeal
Finally, it is time to take a hard look at the outside of your house. After all, that’s the first thing buyers will see when they pull up, so you’ve got to work that curb appeal hard. “First impressions are always the most important. Even if you’ve gotten everything on the inside in perfect showing condition and the outside has not been as carefully attended to the result will be a buyer questioning the value of the home because of that first impression,” Steve offers.
For starters, take a good hard look at the paint. If it’s looking dull or dingy, try power washing first. You can rent a power washer from most home improvement stores; a good wash can take off layers of dirt that make your home look shabby. Most professional paint jobs come with a 25-year warranty, and if you’re long past that, it may be time for a new coat. At the very least, slapping a coat of paint on your front door will give you the most bang for your buck—because that’s what buyers will see up close before they even knock.
Paint aside, your yard also needs to be in order. Overgrown trees can make a home seem dark and creepy. If your trees are touching any part of your house, you should scale them back. If your front lawn is lacking in shrubs and flowers, add some. Even in winter, you can find hardy plants such as evergreen boxwood and holly bushes. Also make sure your lawn is mowed, and if you have a pool that’s open, keep it sparkling.
Once you’ve gotten your home looking fantastic both inside and out, it’s time to break out your camera and spread the news that it’s up for grabs!