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Prepare Your House for a Successful Sale


Whether you list with an agent or sell on your own, you can ensure a quick sale by proactively preparing your house to be a highly marketable and attractive commodity.

Paradigm Shift

Don't wait for the sold sign to get started with packing. Packing away items that are used infrequently has multiple benefits:

It's a head start for you when you do have the house sold; It removes the clutter that might impact negatively on prospective buyers; and It creates a more spacious atmosphere making rooms appear larger.

Be the Buyer

To determine what improvements should be tackled first, view your house as though you were the buyer. If you have a difficult time with objectivity, ask a friend, neighbour or relative to help.

Exterior View

Begin with driving or walking on your street. Does your house stand out as less attractive than those around it? Does your landscaping match up? If not:

Make sure your lawn is well trimmed and free of any bald or brown spots. Plant mature bushes and flowers to add volume and colour. Avoid any plants or trees that will take time to mature. You are going for immediate appeal, over long-term results. Clear away any lawn furniture that mainly provided function over aesthetic appeal (i.e. resin chairs). Clear away the kids bikes and toys from the lawn and driveway. The path from your curb to the door should be unobstructed and clean. Rent a power washer and clean the walkway, if needed. Tighten any loose banisters or steps that lead to your door. If you have personalized items on the door and mailbox remove them. Add a clean mat at the door (this is a purchase that can be taken with you when you move). If your doorknob, street number, mailbox, or light fixtures are dull or rusty, polish or replace them. Clean Doors and windows at the front entrance.

The Entry Way

You've made it past the curb and are in the door. When you enter the house, the first thing that will grab you is not going to be visual. If your house does not have a pleasant odor, it probably won't matter how beautiful it is visually.

Avoid sprays that cover up odor. Although it is better than an initial unpleasant scent, Buyers will pick up on it and feel tricked. Instead, try 'lightly' scented candles, potpourri, or a pot on the stove with vanilla and water. If you are very ambitious, bake a pie.

Remove odor at the source:

Smoke - For those who have smokers in the family, it would be wise to restrict smoking to outdoors until the house sells. Purchase an ozone spray which eliminates odor rather than covering it up

Pets - Clean kitty litter daily and add baking soda. Keep dogs outdoors as much as possible and make use of carpet freshener on a frequent basis.

Cooking - Use the overhead exhaust while cooking and clean up immediately after you are finished. Lingering food odors are not noticeable while you are in the house but are very apparent when stepping in from outdoors.

Interior

The most expensive renovations are the kitchen and bathroom. If these rooms are not appealing to a Buyer, it might be very difficult to sell your property's other assets.

Kitchen and Bathroom

  • Counter tops - Keep them cleared of all clutter. In the kitchen, put away all counter top utensils such as toasters, coffee pots, etc. If you have a microwave on your counter, consider purchasing an inexpensive microwave cart instead. Bathroom counters should be cleared of hair products, hair dryers, electric shavers, etc. Loose trim on counters should be glued. If your counters are in need of replacement, consider replacing or painting with a melamine paint.
  • Cupboards and Drawers - Clean the cupboard and door fronts with a grease cutting cleaner. You will be surprised at how much brighter they will appear afterwards. If that doesn't help brighten them up, you should seriously consider painting with melamine paint as an inexpensive update. Replace outdated cupboard hardware for an instant updated appeal. For an inexpensive alternative to replacing hardware, spray paint with a metallic finish. Clear out as much clutter as you can live without. You want your cupboards to appear as though there is more than enough room for the Buyers to store their items.
  • Sinks and Bathtubs - You can bring your stainless steel sink back to its original shine, with comet cleanser. Be sure to pay close attention to the drain, drain plugs, and outer edges, where grime builds up. Taps and faucets can be brought back to original shine with the use of a dry cloth and q-tips. Simply polish with the dry cloth to remove dullness and add shine. Q-tips in between cracks and tap grooves will remove the 'gunk' and have your taps looking brand new. If your faucet and taps are hopeless, you should replace with a set of inexpensive ones.
  • Flooring - It is a common fact that people tend to look down more than up. If your kitchen or bathroom floor is in need of repair, repair it. If the floor is beyond repair, this might be the best investment to consider in making your house more sellable. Remember, if you are going to invest in a new floor for resale value only, purchase inexpensive neutral flooring. You are making the purchase for immediate appeal to buyers and not for yourself.
  • Kitchen Appliances - Whether or not the appliances are included, they need to be presentable to add to the appeal of the kitchen. Clean the oven and stove to a shine. This will also take care of some possible odor sources as well. Remove the magnets, notes, and artwork from the fridge and clean the top.
  • Living/Family Room

    The most lived in room tends to be the most cluttered. If the room appears small, remove extra furniture and all clutter items such as papers, remotes, videos, etc.

    If you have a lot of personalized items, such as family portraits, trophy's, collectibles, pack them away. Personalized items tend to alienate potential buyers.

    Bedrooms

    Make the beds and remove clutter from under the bed. As with the kitchen cupboards, clear out the clutter so they appear larger. If you have teens or themed rooms, replace bedding and curtains with a more neutral alternative. Patterned bedding will detract from buyers viewing the room and its features. Take down any posters that may be on the walls. Fill holes left behind or hang framed artwork in their place.

    Converted Rooms

    Finally, if you have converted any rooms in your house, you should convert them back to the house's original design. For example, a bedroom converted to a den or home office should be changed back to a bedroom, especially if it is one of the rooms that you have included in your listing as 3 bedroom home.

    Conclusion

    The decision as to the amount of improvements you are willing or able to make will always be your own and there is definitely quite a bit of effort involved with implementing some of the suggestions above. It would make sense to think that buyers should look beyond the personal items that will be removed after a sale and, although there are some buyers who will be able to do that, most buyers won't. The suggestions made above are for ensuring a quick sale by targeting the majority of buyers rather than those rare ones that can see beyond these items.

    February, 2004 - XstreamRealty Incorporated

    Amie Walton is the president and founder of Xstream Realty Incorporated, a Virtual Agent online real estate service. She has retained her ASP designation in Home Staging and is managing both XstreamRealty.com and XstreamStaging.com as a complementary businesses for assisting homeowners to sell their homes quickly and profitably.


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