You have decided to sell your house, and you’ve put in a ton of work to make it the perfect home for your family and lifestyle. Now that you have decided to sell, there is much work ahead. You will be dealing with cleaning, decluttering, real estate listing agents, home
inspections, contractors, handy-persons, painting, etc.
The good news is the effort is worth it in the end. Houses that are clean, bright, decluttered, and inviting can usually command more offers and a higher selling price. The listing photos will look great and inspire people to call to see your house. Buyers typically want a move-in ready home.
They typically don’t want to put a lot of work and money into fixing it up. It’s your job to make it so they won’t have to. A sparkling and inviting home is way more marketable and worth more money.
Basic Prep Suggestions to Help Sell Your House
Generally, you’ll want to consider the following guidelines:
DeClutter, DeClutter, DeClutter, DeClutter
Buyers do not want to see messy, unorganized spaces full of oversize furniture, old trinkets, packing boxes, construction materials, cleaning supplies, personal effects, including shampoo and toothpaste left in the bathroom counters.
I have seen this firsthand as a real estate photographer, and it’s not a pretty sight! And yes, I grab my latex gloves and hide the offending objects. All in a day’s work!
This could be a great time to purge as you go through your house. Look in your closets, drawers, cabinets and think about donating or throwing away things you no longer need or use. Have a yard sale!
Remove family photos. I will blur the images in the marketing photos anyway, and buyers rather see clean open walls. Keep the other wall art to a minimum to make the walls look larger.
Depersonalize your home as much as possible. The idea is buyers want to visualize how their things would look in the house. So, Tabula Rasa = Blank Slate. The idea here is to make your home look more spacious and inviting.
Deep Clean the Entire House
Nothing is more disgusting than seeing a filthy home. You can hire a cleaning service to deep clean the house or grab a broom and some surface cleaners and get to work. Carpets should be deep cleaned by a professional.
Clean all windows and shiny surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms, which are the most important rooms in the house.
Interior & Exterior Lighting
Replace all burned-out light bulbs with tungsten or LED lighting. All lighting should be the same color temperature. Bright, bluish-white bulbs give off a harsh light and exaggerate home imperfections.
Never mix those harsh white lights with traditional tungsten bulbs. Replace those bulbs with a softer color temperature of about 2700 degrees Kelvin. They would look like your typical Tungsten bulbs. Friendly, warm lighting is best.
OK, this is very simple. The general rule is Dark colors = small. Bright colors = big. So do you want your potential buyers to walk into what looks like a depressing cave or an inviting, large space with bright, neutral-colored walls?
Repaint your walls and trim with a bright, neutral color. It will pay off in the end. Oh, get rid of any wallpaper and paint those walls. Grandma’s flowery wallpaper from the 1950s will not help sell your house. A fresh coat of paint is always your best friend.
How to Get Rid of Bad House Odors
House odors can build up over time. These offending smells can come from cooked food, cigarette smoke, pets, scented candles, incense, old clothes, body odor, furniture, old carpet, spoiled food, garbage disposal, trash cans, etc.
It’s not a good idea to have people coming into your home only to be repulsed by the bad smells. Click here for an excellent resource for using natural ingredients to help with horrible house smells.
Furniture and Other Large Household Items
When I take home marketing photos, in some cases, it becomes apparent that the large king-size bed in the primary bedroom can take up over half the space. I’ve seen it repeatedly, and there is no way I can fix that in Photoshop.
When viewing the bedroom photo, the room looks tiny. Homebuyers will move on to the next listing, thinking they need a good-sized bedroom with a lot of space.
Some homeowners have giant recliners and couches in their relatively small living room. I usually try to pull them out of the frame to get a decent photograph, with these oversized objects taking up so much space.
Do your best to remove the furniture and put them into storage or the garage. Try to Minimize the clutter in all rooms. Decluttering will make the rooms look much more spacious to a potential buyer.
If you will be moving out before listing your home for sale, it is in your best interest to have it staged by a professional home stager, or Virtually Staged. According to The National Association of Realtors:
Forty-seven percent of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home.
Eighty-two percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
Staging the living room was found to be very important for buyers (46%), followed by staging the primary bedroom (43%) and staging the kitchen (35%). Read the entire report here.
Virtual Home Staging
Virtual home staging is a low-cost alternative to expensive, conventional home staging. This technique involves taking a photo of the vacant room and adding digitized images of actual furnishings and décor. Virtual staging can provide exceptional realism that grabs the buyer’s attention in the listing photos.
Virtual home staging is an effective marketing tool for sellers who need to spice up their vacant home listings and help potential buyers visualize the possibilities of their future home. It will dramatically improve the appeal of a vacant home listing and draw in more buyers.
Virtually staged home photos can quickly capture buyers’ interest and motivate them to schedule a showing.
It’s all about first impressions. Buyers have an emotional response when they are shopping for a house. As a buyer enters the property, their emotional responses start to flow. They rather not see an un-inviting home with unkempt exteriors, overgrown plants, and trees. And they haven’t even walked through the front door yet!
Ensure landscaping has been done and remove branches from big trees directly in front of the house, which blocks the view. I’ve taken photos of the front exteriors, and all you can see are overgrown bushes, trees, and a roof!
The first photo of almost every sing listing is the front exterior. If all buyers see are trees, they will have no idea what the house looks like. So please get rid of them or trim them way back to show your beautiful home.
Suggestions on Sprucing up You Home’s Exterior
• Either hire a landscaper or, • Mow the lawn and do the edging. • Pull out weeds. • Buy a lovely front door welcome mat. • Repaint the house trim and the front door. • If it’s the right season, plant some pretty flowers. • Make sure the mailbox is in good shape. • Remove all garden clutter and hide those ugly trash cans. • Make sure the garage door is in good shape. • Add a large house address number so the buyers can easily find the house.
What Should You Repair When Selling Your Home
Necessary repairs come first. Most important would be plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, doors, windows, HVAC, fixtures, etc. It makes sense to hire a home inspector for a comprehensive home inspection.
In my case, I recently purchased a house, and the seller had to make a ton of repairs after I ordered the inspection. I still have a lot to do, but in the end, I got a good deal but took several months of backaches and money to complete the repairs. But that’s another post.
So, here’s what I see when photographing some homes:
• Broken storm doors
• Interior doors that close by
• Interior doors that won’t close or
open at all
• Broken bathroom mirrors
• Molding and trim in bad shape
• Cracked tile
• Doorknobs falling off
• Doors opening or closing by themselves (could be ghosts)
• Window shades bent, broken, dented, or falling off the wall
• Holes in walls
• Kitchen cabinet doors not opening or closing properly
• Broken lighting fixtures
• Cracked windows
• Cracks in patio cement
• Wood decks falling apart
I could go on and on. If you don’t fix all the needed repairs, you can probably bet that the buyers will have to do it and offer you a low-ball price. Or the buyer’s home inspector will indicate all those repairs that will still need to be done before the buyers move forward. All of this should be discussed with your Realtor. They are the experts and will give you the best advice.
Cleaning a Home to Sell
I have other posts about this, but in a nutshell: Deep clean the entire home, including the garage, storage spaces, closets, cabinets, tile grout. Hiring a deep move-out cleaning company is also a good idea. Merry Maids is one example.
Once you have decluttered and cleaned the entire house, it’s time to add some decorative touches:
Set the dining room table like you are having a formal affair.
You can leave a few small kitchen appliances like a coffee maker or toaster.
Otherwise, keep the kitchen counters clean and clear of objects.
Add some flowers to the kitchen and bathrooms. You want your potential buyers to feel welcome.
Put a decorative bowl of colorful fruit on the breakfast nook table.
Remove all towels in the kitchen and bathrooms and replace them with a few new towels, neatly folded.
Make the beds and remove any wrinkles. Puff up those pillows.
Don’t hide items under the bed unless they are well-hidden.
On the day of a showing, turn on every single light in the house.
Ensure there are no burned-out bulbs, and all bulbs should be of the same type.
Prepping a house for sale is a significant task and can be overwhelming. There are professionals that can help you with this, and you can always work with your Realtor, who knows what works and what doesn’t work. They’ve done it a zillion times before.
If you don’t want to or can’t make any repairs call a handyman or appropriate professional such as a contractor. It will pay off in the end. Getting your home ready to sell by properly prepping is invaluable if you want your home to sell quickly and at a higher price. Ask your Realtor for more info.