This spring was a really busy time, as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post. We had a lot going on, but one of the biggest things was getting our house ready to sell. We didn’t tackle any major projects, but all the little things added up. It was all worth it thought: we sold our house for full asking price (plus closing costs) in four days!
This was our first home, so I’m not an expert in real estate, but I would consider our sale quite successful. We put a lot of work into getting our house ready and I think it showed. Here are my top 10 tips for getting your house ready to list and sold quickly.
1. Consider Home Improvement Projects
About six months before we planned to list our house, we met with a real estate agent to talk about home improvement projects. We had a list of prospective projects that we thought would increase the value of our home and make it show better, but after talking with our agent, we shortened the list. I would highly suggest meeting with your agent several months before you plan to list the house to go over projects. He or she can help you decide what projects are worth your time and money and which are not. For example, we considered refinishing our wood floors, but our agent told us that for our neighborhood and price point our floors were in good condition, and that we might not recoup the cost of getting them refinished. She did encourage us to redo our kitchen backsplash though, since that was an inexpensive update that made a big difference.
2. Do Small Updates
When prospective buyers tour your house, you want them to feel like it’s well taken care of and that they will have very little to do to make it livable. We tackled small projects like painting chipped trim and changing out brass doorknobs and hinges for new, polished nickel hardware. These little changes made the house look updated and in good condition without spending a ton of time or money.
3. Deep Clean
This seems obvious, but you want your house to be really, really clean when buyers tour your home. Don’t be afraid to hire a cleaning company to give your house a really good, deep cleaning to get it ready to list. If you have carpet, I’d also recommend getting your carpets professionally cleaned, especially if you have pets. This will get out any stains and help eliminate pet odor.
Decluttering is another obvious rule of selling your house, but it’s important. Having some knick-knacks out is ok, but limit it to just your favorites. I have a lot of decorative objects, so clearing some of it out was hard for me, but it made the house show a lot better. You want people to focus on your home, not your stuff.
P.S. A personal pet peeve of mine is too many plants (especially fake plants!). A few pieces of greenery add some life, but too many makes your house seem like a jungle. Nobody wants to buy a jungle.
5. Clean Out Closets
I’m not going to lie, this was a tough one for me. All of our closets were overcrowded and messy, especially our master closet. It was a walk in, but not very big, so we took a lot of time to clean and organize it to make it look more spacious. Everybody wants big closets, so put some effort into cleaning out your closets to make them seem bigger. Only keep the clothes you’re going to be wearing that season, and store or discard everything else. Make sure your shelves look clean and organized too, and don’t leave anything on the floor.
6. Organize Basement/Storage Space
Our house had a big unfinished basement, which was great, but over the years we had let it turn into a giant mess. Nobody wants to walk into a giant mess, even if it’s a basement or storage space. Pack away extra items and stack boxes and tubs in one section of the room so that there’s still plenty of room to walk around. You want every room in your house to feel spacious, including the storage rooms.
7. Clear Out Bulky Furniture
Like I said above, you want every room in your house to feel spacious, so if you have extra furniture consider moving it out to make the room feel a little bigger. This is especially true if any of the furniture blocks the flow of traffic into a space. We moved the chair in the living room and the chair in our bedroom to create a little more space in both rooms and make them feel more open.
8. Show a Little Personality
Decluttering is important, but you don’t want to clear out absolutely everything that gives your home some personality. I think leaving some pictures on the wall and showcasing a few treasured personal items is perfectly fine, and it can help buyers picture themselves in it. And while neutrals are great, don’t be afraid of showing a little color, especially in accessories that will be moved out.
I know someone that completely renovated their home before listing it, and while they did a lovely job, they didn’t stage it at all. They moved out all their furniture during the renovation and only moved in the bare essentials (couch and bed) when they were done. The house had no color and no personality, and it took a long time to sell.
If you’re in a similar situation, it can be advantageous to hire stagers to make your home more appealing to buyers. It’s more money upfront, but worth it if it helps your house sell faster.
9. Hide Personal Items
For this one I’m talking about things like medicines, bras, tampons, etc. They’re things everyone has, but nobody wants to see them when they’re touring a home. This probably seems obvious, but I’ve noticed all of these things during our house-hunting search. I bought a cloth basket to put tampons and other personal items in so that they wouldn’t be visible to buyers. Before you list your home, walk through it like a buyer and take notice of anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to see, and make a plan to take those things out of sight.
P.S. Remember that everyone will look in cabinets and drawers too, so keep that in mind when you’re organizing everything.
10. Pay Attention to Scent
You want your house to look and smell really clean when buyers tour it, so be sure to take out the trash, remove smelly items from the fridge, and clean the litter box before buyers come through. If there are areas of the house that may have a little smelly (like a litter box), you might put a clean smelling (not floral or tropical) air freshener in that part of the house, but otherwise I would suggest not using any artificial scents. Even if you typically love scented candles, etc, you don’t want those scents to overpower the house. Plus, some people are really sensitive to smells, and you don’t want too many air fresheners to ruin their perception of your house.
So there you have it, my top 10 tips for getting your house sold fast. For those of you have have sold a home before, do you agree with my list? Is there anything you feel like I left out?