Sell Your Own Home – Preparing Your Home for Sale

If you want to sell your own home successfully you have to put yourself into the head of the home buyer and ask yourself “What would blow me away and make me want this house?”

Home buyers want to be knocked off their feet when they visit your home. Have you ever visited a builder’s model homes? Did you notice any unmade beds, or dirty dishes in the kitchen sink? Of course not. Builders know how to market their “product”, how to create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere. You need to market your home like a builder; home buyers want the yard filled with flowers, the lawn mowed, the carpet clean, the front door washed, the clutter removed, all the lights on, and anything else that would make a “normal” home look like a “model” home.

When you set about getting ready to sell your own home your job is to do whatever you possibly can to give the prospective buyer what they are looking for in terms of condition and ammenities. You may only have one chance to do this when they visit your home for a showing. And remember, you’re competing with every other house for sale in your neighborhood for the same buyers. The condition and presentation of your home may lead to literally thousands more dollars in the price you are able to get for your home. If you make the effort to make your home show like a model home you can be assured that it will reflect positively on the price you’re able to ask – and ultimately on your bottom-line net profit when you finally get to the closing table.

Don’t get lazy after you’ve spruced your place up and put it on the market – keeping it in good condition while its on the market for sale is one of the most important and crucial aspects of successfully selling the home yourself. Above all else be neat and clean everywhere. This is the most important of not only the basic preparations, but also part of the daily marketing regimen. Rooms, closets and cupboards need to straightened up and uncluttered in appearance, and kept that way for showings. This helps make your home look as large as possible. Rooms that are cluttered with too much furniture can actually make large homes seem small, and lots of clutter is one of the biggest mistakes many do-it-yourself sellers make.

Alright then – Roll up your sleeves and let’s look at some house-keeping projects that will help you sell your own home successfully.

It All Starts with Creating Curb Appeal

The first impression that people have of your house is what it looks like from the outside. It better look sharp because some buyers make a decision to keep on driving just by looking at the outside of the house.

Here are some tips to make them want to come inside:

  • Make the lawn looks it’s very best by cutting, trimming, weeding and fertilizing if necessary. A great looking lawn makes a great first impression.
  • Trim the hedges and be sure to trim anything blocking windows or getting in the way of walking to and from the house.
  • Consider adding flowerbeds and some colorful annuals in places that could use some brightening, or add a nice potted plant at the entry way.
  • Fresh ground cover around the base of trees and flowerbeds give a fresh and maintained look for very little money.
  • Clean up the yard by removing all leaves, debris, branches, and other “yard clutter” to give a neat and tidy appearance.
  • Pick up all garden equipment and coil hoses neatly.
  • If you have a pool be sure to clean it and keep it sparkling and free of pool toys and pool equipment.
  • Straighten up all play areas and consider putting some fresh sand in the sandbox, repair any rusted or dirty swings, slides or other play equipment, or get rid of it altogether.
  • Give serious consideration to painting if the house needs it. A fresh coat of paint on the outside can make the house look completely updated.
  • How does the front door look? A fresh coat of paint and kick-plate can inexpensively transform a front door.
  • Clean or replace any dirty or dated porch lights. Clear away cobwebs.
  • Make the windows sparkle. Clean windows and repair any caulking or paint that needs attention.

The Entry Way Sets the Stage

The entry is where you set the stage for what’s going going to be going on inside the head of the buyer. The feeling the buyer gets when he first crosses the threshold will remain with him/her during the whole tour of the house.

Here are some tips to make the front entry experience a great one:

  • Hanging plants or potted flowering plants can add color and define an entry way.
  • Does the front porch light work? Make sure the light is on if buyers are going to be coming at dusk or after dark.
  • Make sure the doorbell works!
  • Is the front door is in good working order? Make sure there is no squeaking, jamming, or sticking locks. Make sure the buyers won’t experience any problems getting into the house.
  • Inside the house make sure the immediate entry way is well lit and is free of clutter, shoes, coats, and anything that takes up space.
  • Clean out the front closet of all unnecessary coats, hats, gloves and all the other stuff that typically gets thrown in the closet. Make the closet look spacious.

Making Your Kitchen and Dining Room as Inviting as Possible

The kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s where people hang out at parties and family gatherings, and it’s the most highly valued room by buyers, so you want to make it show it’s best.

Here are some tips to create a captivating kitchen:

  • Clean as much as possible off the countertops, including the coffeemaker, toasters, can openers, salt and pepper shakers, recipe boxes and dish draining rack. This will help your kitchen look more spacious.
  • Thoroughly clean all your appliances and cupboards, including the inside of your refrigerator, oven and microwave.
  • Make sure that the kitchen sink and your countertops are spotless and shiny.Also shine your faucets and knobs and use spot removing cleaner to keep them from getting water spots.
  • Many buyers will look inside cupboards and cabinets so make sure the inside is organized and clean. Make the cabinet look more spacious by storing non-essential items elsewhere.
  • Buyers like to see an eat-in kitchen but often don’t have the vision to see it as such without the furniture – make sure you have a table and chairs in your space.
  • Set the dining room table with your best dishes to stimulate your buyers’ imagination of the family dinners and dinner parties they’ll host.
  • Consider painting old or worn cabinet doors and carcasses. An inexpensive idea to update the look of your cabinet doors is to replace your current knobs with new ones.
  • Remove notes, pictures and coupons that are hanging off the front of the refrigerator door.
  • Remove screens from the kitchen windows because they take away from allowing natural light inside.
  • Take all trash out before your home is being shown. Garbage and recycling bins must be out of sight.

Make Sure the Buyers Can See Themselves Living in the Living Room

The living and family rooms are where your new buyers will do most of their “living” so you want to make sure and make the space as comfortable and inviting as possible.

Here are some tips to make the living room and family room appear their best:

  • Open all of the drapes and blinds. Walking into a home where shades, curtains and drapes are closed is depressing and a little creepy.
  • Get rid of big furniture – it can weigh down a space and make the space feel much smaller. Get rid of it and rearrange the remaining furniture if possible.
  • If your furniture is well worn and doesn’t look good consider buying, borrowing or renting what you need.
  • Patch and paint the walls if necessary. Paint is relatively inexpensive and provides a great return on investment. Stick with warm neutral colors.
  • Vacuum your carpets each morning. Think about getting your carpets cleaned before potential buyers view your house.
  • Clean your fireplace of smelly ashes.
  • During “showings” turn on all lights and lamps.

Make the Bathrooms Sparkle

After the kitchen, the bathroom is the room that gets paid the most attention and some inexpensive tricks can make your bathroom look like a million bucks.

Here are some tips especially for the bathroom:

  • Remove everything from the counter top, except  decorative soap sets, candles or fresh flowers.
  • Rinse out the sink, shine your faucets and knobs, and get rid of any water spots on them.
  • Personal items like hairdryers, makeup kits and hairbrushes should always be neatly placed in drawers or cabinets.
  • A fresh new shower curtain is an inexpensive investment with a big impact.
  • Keep your shower and tub area spotless. Buyers will look behind the curtai so make sure the area looks as good as it can.
  • Make sure that the towels match and that they are clean and smell fresh.
  • Scrub tiles and bleach the grout so it all sparkles.
  • Repair, or buy new faucets if they are leaky or worn out.
  • If the caulking is stained or cracking bright new caulking can make a huge difference in your shower and tub areas.
  • Always empty bathroom trash cans before showings and put the trash can under the vanity if you can – they take up floor space and you want the bathroom to appear as big as possible.
  • Put away things like toilet cleaners, plungers, and hampers which just add add clutter.

Make Those Bedrooms Look Big!

Bedrooms are a key part of the home buying experience. Bigger is better. Nobody comments favorably about “what lovely tiny bedrooms”. Just like other areas of the house, clutter takes up space and makes rooms look smaller.

Here are some tips to make your bedrooms look bigger and brighter:

  • Use attractive accessories on bedroom furniture like candles or flowers.
  • New bedspreads or quilts can really make a bedroom look inviting.
  • Make your bed look attractive and make sure the bedspread fits the bed properly and hangs down far enough to cover the view under the bed.
  • Just have a single good book on the nightstand.
  • Take down all posters, photos, drawings and awards in the kids rooms. You want the buyers to imagine the rooms as their own.
  • Remember that buyers are most likely going to look in your closets, so make sure the closets are as spacious looking as they can be by removing all the clothes, shoes and stuff that’s not being used right away.
  • In kids bedrooms be sure and put the toys in toy boxes or bins that can be shut closed.

Tips for Every Room in the House

  • Clean it from top to bottom. Clean houses have a competitive edge over dirty houses.
  • Get a fresh breeze going to air out the house and get rid of any “stale” odors.
  • Remember – think model home. Remove “extra” furniture and accessories. Make it appear spacious, not cluttered.
  • Clean and deodorize carpets, paying special attention to high traffic areas and stains that can be removed.
  • Check all the light fixtures and lamps, replacing burned out or low wattage bulbs with bright white bulbs. Make sure light switches are functional.
  • If the couch, chairs or love seat need some updating, try a neutral slip cover and add accent color with some throw pillows.
  • Check for squeaky doors, and add a little lubricant to get rid of the squeaks.
  • If necessary paint interior walls. Paint is cheap, and a great return on investment. It doesn’t have to be white, but stay away from bold garish colors. Neutrals colors are always the best.
  • Make sure the blinds work and that they’re clean. Keep them open to let in as much light as possible.
  • Make sure the house smells it’s best at all times. Get rid of all pet odors. Keep cat boxes clean at all times.
  • Store excess family photos and anything that is too much a reflection of your life.
  • Overcrowded bookshelves make rooms appear smaller. Clear off the shelves leaving only the larger books and lots of room on the shelves.

It’s a lot of work preparing your house to sell! But remember this – your investment in time (and maybe a little money) will pay off handsomely and will help you sell your house fast and for top dollar. If you’ve used this checklist to spruce up your house and get it ready to put on the market then your house is going to outshine 80% of the other homes on the market, and you’ve given yourself a significant advantage in your effort to sell your own home. Congratulations – you’ve overcome many of the biggest obstacles that any home seller faces when trying to sell by owner.

**Nothing on this website should be confused with financial or legal advice. If you need this, or any other type of advice, please seek the help of a competent professional. In addition, because real estate laws change all the time and differ from state to state, and even city to city in the same state, everything in these pages should be considered general marketing advice and ideas. Please see link to full Disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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