It’s all about that “First Impression”
In preparing your home for sale, it is important to envision your home through a “Buyer’s eye.” Fact is, people purchase what they see, not “what it is going to be.” Now is the time to make your home as Buyer-friendly as possible.
Most buyers select their home based on emotion and then justify their decision with facts. Remember, your home will be compared to model homes, homes that may been professionally decorated, and homes that have no children, no pets, and Mr. and Mrs. Perfectionist as owners. This is how we will put ourselves ahead of our competition– in the way your home shows. After reading this, don™t be overwhelmed ” call me for an objective opinion on necessary items. It could save you a lot of time and money!
Let’s Start With The Outside:
- Check the roof. If any area is lifting, get it repaired! This will avoid future problems.
- Service A/C Unit. We don’t want a broken unit or last minute liability problems. If any panels are rusted or the paint is peeling “get it repaired”! Get the furnace burners cleaned so the inspector won’t diagnose a possibly cracked heat exchanger.
- Clear perimeter of home as well as patios of all small items. This means toys, barbecues, garbage cans, building materials, tools, etc. Pack them in storage, or away at a friend’s house.
- Un-clutter that garage. The best advice is to remove everything, hose the place down and paint the floor porch grey if necessary. Then organize everything you put back piece by piece, get rid of what you don’t need (then you won’t have to pay to move it to your next house). Storage sheds should be organized the same way. Storage is important to people looking at a new home “make it look like you have space to spare”!
- Oil and grease stains in the driveway can be absorbed with kitty litter. Just don’t forget to remove the litter when you are through!
- Trim shrubs away from home. (especially windows) and touch up existing landscaping. Homes with no landscaping lose incredible value in the mind of the buyer ” either because of effort, expense, or both. Well placed blooming flowers can add appeal with minimal expense. Weed planting areas and keep lawn freshly mowed and edged.
- If painting is required. (too personal of a color, maybe outdated) choose a neutral color. Drive by a couple of neighborhoods that cost $50-100,000 more than your neighborhood and copy one of their color schemes. If nothing else, give a great first impression of your home by putting a fresh coat of paint or stain on the front door and trim.
Now Let’s Go Inside:
- Go through every room. Pack up 30% of everything that isn’t a piece of furniture and maybe even some that are if they overpower the room. If this sounds extreme, go to model homes and look inside at their countertops and coffee tables. Selling your home for the highest dollar doesn’t always make it convenient for the moment. Since you’re moving away, advance packing is the key. Neatly store packed boxes floor to ceiling in a corner of the garage.
- Create the perception of roominess. This means pack all non-essential items from cabinets and closets. Neatly coordinate and organize necessary items that are left (this will help you keep organized with your move as well). Excess personal items such as photos, awards, etc., should be packed to allow potential buyers to see this as their home.
- If new flooring is needed, use contemporary neutral shades. lighter colors work great for creating a cleaner larger space. If carpet pad is worn below 5/8 or pets have done a number one (or two) on it, replace it with a very thick one and then an appropriate grade of carpeting for the price range of the house. Existing carpet, tile, or vinyl in good condition should be thoroughly scrubbed or cleaned. Pay special attention to dirt or wax build up on corners and around baseboards.
- White painted walls are best. If painted walls are not in great shape, try scrubbing a test area. If repainting is needed, flat latex should be used throughout with semi-gloss latex in kitchens and baths. Wood paneling can be cleaned with a mixture of 1T turpentine, 3T olive oil, and 1 qt. warm water, then wipe dry. Wall paper should be clean and up to date. If not, spraying with window cleaner first makes it easier to strip. Paint or re-wallpaper depending on the condition of the wall. Sponge painting is also an attractive, easy alternative.
- Details. Repair badly cracked plaster, loose knobs, and crooked light fixtures. Correct faulty plumbing. Leaky faucets can strain fixtures and attract attention to plumbing defects. To remove mineral stains, pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain then sprinkle with cream of tartar. Leave for 30 minutes before scrubbing. Bad stains may require 203 applications. Do you do windows? Well you should, and with newspaper and white vinegar. Windows should be cleaned inside AND out as well as mini-blinds and curtains.
- Take a deep breath now for the kitchen. Appliances should be spotless- undiluted vinegar works on grease and grime. Baking soda will remove odors from the fridge without scratching. Hot salt water down the drain twice a week controls odors as well as grinding citrus peels or apple cores in the garbage disposal
- Another breath, it’s bathroom time. Scrubbing everything goes without saying- reglaze tubs or sinks if rusted and recaulk tub and shower. Clean tile grout with Tilex, fixtures with white vinegar and rust spots with Zud. If your tub has residue from old permanent fixtures that have seen better days, a kerosene soaked cloth will remove those too. Remaining adhesive traces can be removed by rubbing with a cloth and cooking oil. Leave out one set of coordinated towels to give instructions to your family to look but do not touch (and you said you would never have towels you didn™t actually use!)
- Relax. Now we need to address you pet lovers. During showings noisy pets should be kept out of sight and earshot (if possible). Unfortunately, getting pet odors out of the way isn’t as easy. Carpet that has been repeatedly stained with animal urine will probably need to be replaced to get rid of the lingering odor. This means the carpet, pad, carpet strips, baseboard trim, and even the sub flooring may need to be treated. A small uncovered dish of vinegar in the room where you pet sleeps will remove the doggy smells (but keep it off the floor so your dog doesn’t drink it!). Add a cup of baking soda to kitty litter to absorb odors there and please relocate the litter box if it is in the shower or tub. To non-cat lovers this makes your shower or tub mentally off-limits.
- Ambiance. Yes, pleasurable lighting and aromas play important parts in someone’s first impression of being in a new place. Nowadays cigarette smoke is offensive to many people, so all traces of smoking should be gone when showing your home. Glade plug-ins work well, so do unscented candles, fragrant fresh flowers, or even the proverbial vinegar in a dish (out of sight). As for lighting: the brighter the better- especially in smaller homes or homes without vaulted ceilings. During the day all blinds and drapes and blinds, should be open (so your yards have to be clean). At night close all drapes and blinds, and adding candle light if effective. Television should be off; soft background music is preferable. Temperature should be comfortably warm or moderately cool depending on the season.
- Last but not least, three’s a crowd. Let the buyer and their agent feel free to talk with each other without distraction or pressure.
Preparing Your Home for an Inspection:
- Are there horizontal or vertical cracks in the foundation wall?
- Does the grading around the house direct rain water away from the foundation?
- Are any roof shingles missing?
- Are the gutters and down spouts connected and secured to the house?
- Are the gutters and down spouts clean and free from debris and weeds?
- Is the exterior wood trim in good condition?
- Is the wood trim around the doors in good condition?
- Are there any wood surfaces in direct contact with soil?
- Are stair or porch railing loose?
- Are the wood or concrete steps in good condition?
- Does any of the siding need repair or replacement?
- Are any of the landscape timbers rotted?
- Do the retaining walls or fences need repair?
- Do walls and ceilings surfaces have holes and cracks that need patching?
- Do all the windows have operable latches?
- Can all the windows have cracked panes or broken seals?
- Do windows need caulking?
- Are any of the windows painted shut?
- Are stair railings loose?
- Are moldings loose, broken or missing?
- Do interior doors sticks, open and close?
- Are kitchen or bathroom tiles cracked?
- Can you explain the existence or repair of old water penetration stains on walls or ceilings?
- Does the chimney damper open and close properly?
- Does the chimney need cleaning?
- Does the chimney motear need pointing?
- Is there insulation present in the attic?
- Is the insulation in the attic blocking attic vents?
- Is there a distracting amount of clutter in any of the rooms that would prevent a thorough inspection?
- Are there any signs of insect infestation?
- Are any receptacles, switches on their covers broken or loose?
- Are all receptacles hot and switches operable?
- Do any light bulbs, fluorescence or cosmetic lights need replacing?
- Do the ceiling fans work properly?
- Do the reset buttons of GFCI receptacles pop out when test button is pressed?
- Do the front and back door bells work?
- Is the main electrical service wire entering the home secured to the exterior of the house?
- Do the electrical junction boxes have covers?
- Do the smoke alarms function when tested?
- Do all the electrical range-top burners and ovens work?
- Does the kitchen over fans work?
- Does the dishwasher work properly?
- Does the garbage disposal work?
- Do the bases of the faucets leak?
- Do the faucets shut off completely, preventing water from dripping?
- Are the faucets and shower heads screens clear, allowing full water flow?
- Are any drains clogged?
- Do the stopper mechanisms of sinks and bathtubs open and close properly?
- Is there insulation on the water pipes in unheated area of the home?
- Is there access to the mail water shut off valve?
- Are the bathtub and shower enclosures properly caulked?
- Are the toilets loose at the top or at the tank?
- Are all exterior water faucets loose or dripping?