There are some good tips here on getting your home ready to sell... Do you need to spend a ton of money upgrading? You can, but it is doubtful if you will get that money back in this market.
Before the First thing to do: Remove YOUR emotional clutter.
Yes, we all have it.
"This is OUR home, not theirs (yet). I am STILL living here, I love this place, my kids grew up here, their heights are still marked inside the doorframe of the hall closet. All of this adds value to my home. It's perfect, it's comfortable... it's US."
Well of course that is true, but it is true only for you. The sobering fact is that buyers are not going to add a bit of value for those things in their own minds. They are looking for a well maintained "box" to turn into their HOME. Your space, with all its memories and love, is just another house that they will be seeing (it is sad, but true). First you have to be Star Trek's proverbial Vulcan, and remove your emotional attachment. Then honestly look at your house through the eyes of potential buyers. It might be best to have a good friend that will actually tell the truth to you. I like to try and role play with clients...I have worked with a lot of buyers.
Have the friend take on the persona of that obnoxious agent that used to be on one of those HGTV shows a while back... was it Designed to Sell? She would come in and just verbally rip the home apart while the owners listened over a speaker. VERY tough love. But sadly, it needs to be done. You, for whatever reason, have your home for sale, and it is still a tough market around here with plenty of competition.That's the cold, hard, truth. It has to compete at a minimum.It would be better if it compelled. Are YOU standing in the way? I'm sure you do not want to, so put on your Vulcan-logic ears and get logical...bury that emotion. It's not easy being Vulcan.
FIRST: Curb Appeal.
You do NOT need to go insane on the dollar amount. THIS however is what is going to get people in the door, whether it is from seeing the yard sign and looking at the home from the street (Oh, this first stage is absolutely free... go out and look at your home from the street with your new buyer eyes, and see what YOU think.), or whether it is from the street shot that will be in print or internet advertising. People must be proud of their home when they pull up to it. And buyers need to SEE the home... bushes in the way? Tree limbs?... these can be trimmed to open the view (basically free). Yard clutter...it can be removed for free. Unfinished project? ( either finish it, or move it and it's associated clutter and let it become your project at your next home). Those are the freebies (time). Might consider painting your front door a warm and inviting color, little things add up. Add some colorful potted flowers if space allows. Think about adding a new attractive light fixture if it is easily seen or painting the old one to save $$... there are quite a few websites out there with inexpensive things to do to improve that all important first impression...oh... and DO stay on top of spiderwebs and those all important BUG-hangouts...this IS the South you know, and our bugs just love it when we are hospitable and allow them to stay near the front porch light... you do not want the overriding memory of your home to be that big fat spider that scared the bejeepers out of the would be buyers.
Here is a link to a bunch of good articles on curb appeal that are on the site HOUSELOGIC:
AGAIN... stay in the budget... you shouldn't have to spend a fortune for helping to make your home more attractive to help sell it... and of course all this is related to helping your agent have the home's best foot forward if you are going to have an open house. (IF you want to do an open house...we would need to talk) YOU are on a team here...
Next: MOVE THAT CLUTTER!!!!!!!
I refer to this as "Life Stuff"... the clutter that surrounds us and makes a space personal. Lordie, you should see the clutter in my house... but, my house isn't on the market for sale, yours is. ;).
I want to keep all my mementos, thank you very much... and contrary to that show that was on a while back, I'm NOT throwing them away and "keeping the memory, not the item". My memory needs jogging, and that gaudy little clown that is sitting gathering dust on the bookshelf reminds me of my mother when my eyes rest on it and brings a smile to my face... so... I'm keeping it.... and I think that YOU should keep those things also. The only difference is that your "Life Stuff" and mementos are not going to help you in selling your home. It's the psychological thing I talk about in a bit...
This also applies to clothes in closets (The buyers psychologically need to be able to put their wardrobe into the closet). It isn't going to help matters if your closet is full to overflowing... the closet space will scream that the house has inadequate storage.... same in the kitchen cabinets, etc.
Here's the plan, but it will cost you some. GOAL: Reduce the easily seen clutter by a minimum of 50% (90% would be better, but I'll take 75 and hope you will be inspired when you see how much nicer your home will look to buyers and voluntarily go for the entire de-cluttering !! Closet clutter and cabinet clutter needs to be reduced as well, so move the stuff that you aren't going to eat or eat with within a reasonable period of time, and the clothes you are not going to wear in a reasonable period of time... (If you AREN'T going to lose those pounds... you know what I'm talking about... however the former might help the later... LOL)
I am NOT going to ask you to throw away that stuff... just pack it away and store it in a SECURE storage facility close to home if you have one. Here is the beauty of the plan... yep, it's gonna cost you some dough but what are you actually doing here??? TWO BIRDS (or more) WITH ONE STONE!!! WIN / WIN!!! (feel free to insert others)....
You are not only removing the clutter from your home (yes, you can argue that the clutter humanizes the space... but it humanizes the space to YOU and not those buyers), but you are keeping it safe and secure, PLUS you can pack those treasured yard sale items carefully away, CODE the boxes (more on this in a minute) and move them in an orderly fashion to the storage facility, staged to be loaded onto the moving truck... ready to go!!! You take away from the rushing insanity of the moving experience somewhat (it is never completely eliminated), save your back somewhat, organize the move-to-be (oh... never pack away "must need items" so they will be off loaded last at the new house).
CODING THE BOXES. Code the boxes with some alpha-numeric code that is referenced back to a manifest or 2 that you keep separate. On the odd chance that your storage locker would be the object of thievery, there is no sense to make it easy shopping for those jerks like I did. "SMALL HAND TOOLS', 'CD'S',"ELECTRONICS" is just like giving them the aisles in a store. Much better if they see "A-1", "A-2". Just an opinion though... and do not scrimp on the lock that you put on the place. Buy a very good one. These places are targets for thieves around here so make sure to protect your stuff.
For your daily clutter.... ATTRACTIVE LIDDED CONTAINERS
These are worth their weight in gold. Go to second hand stores, or yard sales and find some that are in good repair and attactive but inexpensive... like wicker or some such material. When the time comes on the weekend (or get into the habit each morning), put your stuff in the container and if it is small, like your bathroom stuff put it under the cabinet. If it is larger stuff, like the kids toys, etc. Put them inside and slide it to a corner of the room... keep in mind that the buyers need to psychologically be in the home and this is the main bottom line about reducing to a minimum your personal stuff.
Next: FURNITURE NEEDS TO FIT THE SPACE
Again, this is basic... if it is a smallish room, don't cram all that cool furniture into it (put it in the storage room, packed and ready to move). Place the remaining furniture so that the room looks more open and inviting. Don't forget that a piece might look better in a different room.
Next: Don't forget...COLORS
It was so cool of you to let the kids pick out their own colors for the bedrooms. It is time to change that. Chartruese, electric Blue and hot Pink are not really great color choices that will appeal to a wide range of buyers...just sayin', ok? And yes, paint is the easiest of the things to change in interior rehab. Yes, the buyers could do it more easily than you could because they can do it before they move in and there's no furniture to move, etc... blah, blah, blah.
I tell buyers repeatedly to make notes about the properties I show them. Does this mean that they do that???? Heavens,NO. Some do, most don't. FACT: Houses start to look alike after 3-4 properties. Which one was the one that had that tiny bedroom? Which was the one that had the storage downstairs? If you don't take notes, you will forget. BUT here's the thing. Say they look at your home, and the only thing negative about it is some outlandish color somewhere (It could even be that the Darker Rose color you painted the bedroom is just too dark for them.) They leave the house, don't remember exactly what was the negative, but only remember that there WAS something negative. Try to tone down the colors if they are very "unique"
Some other tips:
A color a shade or two lighter in the room further into the home seems to make the distance look farther away.
Lighter color ceilings make a room seem larger. If you paint the ceiling a dark color, it feels cramped.
Lighter colors in general make a room appear larger, more airy.
The "flatter" the finish, the less sins it will expose. Shinier finishes will show texture more, but will also show a blem in the wall like a less than perfect floating job on sheetrock. You are not trying to hide blemishes or poor workmanship (that stuff really ought to be fixed), but tiny imperfections will show when they are shiny.
Next: Fini$he$, Fixture$ and Floor Covering$, oh my!
Yes, Brass fixtures are now dated and detract from the overall appeal to many as do white appliances.... Yes, SO many people have to have Granite, Brazilian Cherry, etc.
So we are talking about some MONEY in these areas... One of the better things on the appliances is that they work and match, even if white (I have white appliances, go figure... don't like black and stainless steel often shows fingerprints). I would think about replacing the brass though, 'cause I have heard LOTS of negative comments on brass fixtures (funny how something that was popular 5 years ago in this market is now horridly "dated", and yes, my home has brass fixtures which seem to put out water just fine). Heck... just wait, brass will come back I bet.
If you are going to pony up some money to replace something that is working just fine, I would save $$ on the bathroom and put that savings into the kitchen fixtures. Those tend to stand out in my mind. Don't go insane... just find a cool looking one. Same goes for the bathroom... keep in mind though, it will look really weird if you have a brushed aluminum faucet with a brass drain. Think of adding new hardware like drawer pulls and cabinet knobs. We lived for a long time with our "sans hardware" look and added pulls and knobs... it makes our kitchen look awesome.
Tear out the laminate and spend a few grand on counter tops??? Look, if you have MY luck, you will spend a small fortune on buying cheap granite, which to the trained eye will holler "CHEAP GRANITE" and it will be the wrong color, etc. (This goes with floor finishes as well... put in hardwood, they want tile or carpet [think about offering an allowance]. If you are bound and determined to spend the dough on counter tops (and why, I might ask, did you not do this for yourself to enjoy before going to sell the home???), do look in the new laminates out there... there are some that fool you into thinking they are granite until you tap them. Plus, if you knock over great-grandmother's Limoges tea cup, on laminate, it's got a fighting chance to survive with maybe just a chip... on granite? not so much... (the same argument can be said for good looking vinyl flooring... you can drop something and both the "something" and the flooring can have a chance of surviving). Keep in mind barefoot comfort in the winter... I hate cold floors.
The new, small shag carpeting appears to be popular with many buyers.
Oh.... a ticklish subject.... What's that smell?????
Uh, Yep.... We are pretty nose-dead when it comes to our own homes, after all, we are there for a good portion of our day. If you are a smoker, or former smoker (and even if you go outside to smoke), chances are your home, sad to say, will have an odor of cigarette smoke or stale cigarette smoke. The idea is to sell the home and make it appealing to a broad range of buyers. The odor comes in on your clothes and it stays and stays. It is in your closet and coat closet. If you smoke in the house, it's in your duct work...
Fido and kitty do not help either, and yes, I know we are talking about members of the family here... If Uncle Will's favorite recliner had some odor issues... we would fix those, right?? so you need to be aware of anything that stands in the way of a sale and try to reduce that negative situation. It is a tightrope though... cover it up? Then buyers are wondering what else you might be covering up (like mildew odor)... so don't go overboard on the air fresheners... it is just as bad. Here is where that honest friend that has no pets and doesn't smoke will come in handy... however, how would you tell a friend, "I've been in smelly homes before, Bill, but yours would knock a buzzard off a.... " get the idea???
Daily Bathroom/Kitchen Clutter
Yes, we have to get ready for work, and if you are like me, you are always in a rush. If your home is on the market, a showing can be scheduled any time, so you have to be in the habit of pre-prepping your bathroom and of course your kitchen. Yes, if your home is on the market a while, this is going to get old, but your home will be looking better in the long run when you come home!!! (Ok, I figured I'd give it a shot).
My luck would have it thus: I haven't had a showing in weeks, it is a cold rainy day... I am leaving the dirty dishes in the sink, the garbage overflowing, the laundry in the corner of the bedroom, and I'm not squeegying (sp?) the glass shower, or rinsing out my toothpaste spit out of the sink... AND I'M LEAVING THE LID UP!!! These actions will guarantee that I get a showing with a very picky buyer. Got to have the best foot forward every day for the entire time.
Yes, use the squeegie for the shower, especially if you have one of those cool, glass showers... they show spots pretty easily and you don't want a soap scum build up to showcase that they need a bit of extra care to keep them looking so beautiful, as it will be a very big plus if clean and a pretty hefty minus if soap-slimed.
Nail ANY mildew that has or even might think about invading the bathroom or kitchen sink area... bathrooms and kitchens are important and they need to be as pretty as possible. Cluttered counters indicate there is not enough storage, NOT that you were running late and didn't straighten up.
Wipe out the sink after you spit... just rinsing can still leave a haze. Put the toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, hair products... everything you normally keep out on the counter top into a small basket or box and put it under the sink or in a cabinet, everyday, YES, every day. Get into the habit. Your house is on the market every day and it has to be ready for that buyer that calls an agent and says, "I am in town only for today and I saw that home on xyz anystreet... can you show it to me?"
If you are at work, ya can't come back and straighten... so it's got to be a habit you get into.
That's about all I've got for the purposes here... hope it helps. There's more, but you need to contact me...ha ha
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