How to Prepare Your House for Sale

First impressions matter. And they matter more than you’d think in the real estate world. If you want to sell your house fast and for a good price, you need to put some work into it and make it as appealing as possible.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare your house so it makes an excellent impression.

Make Repairs

Any good real estate agent will tell you that. If you want to get a fair price for your house you have to identify the things that need repairs and get to work before listing your home for sale. Start with the alley and the front door, and then work your way around the house. If the pavement in your alley needs fixing, do that. Repaint the front door if necessary. Pay attention to the patio floor and replace broken wood boards.

Once you get inside the house, check the floors and replace broken tiles, fix squeaky or jammed doors, repair dripping faucets, fix any hole in the walls, etc. You get the idea. Some of these repairs are simple DIY jobs, but don’t hesitate to bring in a repairman for more complicated jobs. It’s worth spending a bit if you want to make more.

De-clutter Your House

You should do this anyway since you’re moving out. You don’t want to take the tons of useless things that made their way into your house over the years to your new home. Time for a fresh start. Throw out anything you won’t be taking with you before starting to show the house. Think about donating old clothes or holding a yard sale.

A clutter-free house will look more spacious to prospective buyers.

Move Your Stuff Into Storage

This is about the stuff you’re not planning to throw away. As you’ve probably started packing, go the extra mile and rent a short-term storage unit. When you start showing the house, you don’t want people stumbling into boxes of clothes and china. Yes, people can understand the situation and be sympathetic, but the impression is still bad. If your living room is a mess filled with stacks of boxes it will look small and cluttered. Not the sort of place where they imagine themselves spending a quiet evening.

Organize Closets and Cabinets

It might still be your home, but a potential buyer won’t hesitate to open closets, cabinets and drawers. Since it’s not possible to move all your belongings into storage, make sure all closets and cabinets are properly organized. Don’t forget about the children’s rooms. Take special care of the kitchen. You don’t know the lady touring the house but you want to impress her. Even if you’ve just had breakfast, make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink and every single cup is placed neatly in its place.

Make it Sparkle

Would you feel at home in a dirty home? No? Nor would your prospective buyers. The house needs to be spotless when a buyer walks in. Preparing to move and packing your belongings is probably not the best time for a top-to-bottom cleaning but it needs to be done. Bathrooms, in particular, should look spotless, sort of like a hotel bathroom. Clean the windows so they shine in the sun. Don’t forget about the carpets.

Above all, air the house thoroughly. Every house has its own smell and you’re used to it, but to an outsider it might smell funny. Bring in some fresh flowers and use air fresheners if necessary.

Paint the Walls

A freshly-painted house makes a much better impression. Even if you painted the house not so long ago, keep in mind that a new owner might not want to sleep in a red bedroom or have a bright yellow living room. It doesn’t matter how well it looks to you, if the wall paint looks odd it might put off a potential buyer.

You don’t have to bother yourself with fancy color schemes. Paint the walls white as this color will make the house seem larger and more airy. And white indicates cleanliness.

Remove Yourself From the Picture

Or better said remove your pictures and personal items from the house. It’s basic psychology. You’re showing the property to people looking to buy a new home, they’re not interested in your old home, so you need to make it as impersonal as possible.

Imagine a young couple looking for their first house. They cannot see it as their new home if they see your wedding picture on the mantelpiece or your kid’s doodles on the fridge door. It’s cute and homey, but it speaks too much about you and too little about them.

Remove any personal items, including all the knickknacks strewn around the house and the books in the bookcase.

Give them the impression that this is their house to fill with their own memories.

Remove Your Favorite Furniture

When a buyer walks into the house they might be quite taken with the antique sideboard in the dining room. It would be a pity to disappoint them by telling them you’re taking it with you. It is totally understandable, but it creates a let-down feeling. The house won’t seem as nice if they hear it doesn’t come with an exquisite piece of furniture they saw in the pictures and it smacks of false-advertising, an impression you definitely don’t want to give off.

Don’t Take Away the House’s Soul

There’s a careful balance between de-cluttering and making yourself scarce, and leaving the house look empty. A house needs some furniture to look occupied and lived in. An empty house is soulless and less inviting. If you remove all your personal items from the coffee table, replace them with a large bowl of fresh fruit or a flower vase. Or, hide the old blanket you kept on the couch, but replace it with an elegant throw and a couple of colorful pillows. It’s the little things that make a house attractive.

Consider Landscaping Your Garden

This is the very first thing they’ll see of your house, so pay special attention to the garden in front of the house. A landscaping artist could help you make it look spectacular, but you can try a few tricks yourself. Root out the weeds, clean the dead leaves and try to have at least a few bushes and flowerbeds. If you don’t have time for that, buy a couple of potted plants and place them on both sides of the front entrance. Also, clean out your kid’s old toys. If it’s the right season, take out the patio furniture, give it a good scrub and let them imagine themselves sipping a glass of wine in that beautiful garden.

When you’re done, take a tour of the house and try to see it with a stranger’s eyes. If you’re happy with what you see, it’s time to put it up for sale.

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