When selling your home, it’s important to know which repairs and home improvement projects will increase your chances of landing a buyer. More to the point – you are taking the steps necessary to have your home be fairly considered. If you have an issue that is obvious and easily remedied, it is in your interest to be sure it is taken care of prior to listing your home.
A soiled and worn carpet for example may turn buyers off to your property when there are other comparable properties on the market where the carpet is in good condition. Your goal is to make your house more attractive than any other home that it will be compared to. This is truer today than ever before because buyers know they have many choices available to them and they are choosy – very choosy.
Often, seemingly minor issues can turn a buyer off. For example, what you may know as an irritation to a painted ceiling from the movers may be perceived by the potential buyers as a water issue. It is ALWAYS better to make repairs and thoroughly clean every part of your home.
The rule of thumb is this … If you or your agent sees something as an issue, most buyers will as well. If you allow something to remain as issue you are putting your property at a disadvantage in a very tough market for sellers.
Carpets and Floors
Carpet should be clean, stain and odor free. If you have carpeting that shows signs of excessive wear or is an unusual color or type, it is best to repair or replace the carpet. Flooring is the first thing a buyers looks at when they enter a home. If buyers don’t feel they need to remove their shoes – that is a good indication that there is a problem.
Any carpet or other flooring being replaced for the sale should be replaced with a neutral color in a style/weave that matches the location. Another carpet issue appears when you begin to de-clutter and move furniture. Those indentations left by moving furniture can often be brought up to match the rest of the carpet with a steamer.
Hardwood floors should be cleaned and conditioned to show off their elegance. If hardwoods are distressed or discolored it is definitely worth having them reconditioned by a professional. Other flooring, such a linoleum or tile should also be carefully inspected and cleaned/repaired to look perfect. Pay attention to the air returns and vents on the floor and give them a good cleaning or a bit of matching spray paint to make the flooring look finished and clean to the buyers coming through.
Clean and De-clutter:
A good way to determine what needs to be addressed is to invite a friend or neighbor to walk through your home and let them open every door. If you feel uncomfortable when they look into your master closet, that is a good sign in needs work. Your agent can help you decide what is important, but your good friend can be a valuable second set of eyes on the potential of your property.
Remove large pieces of furniture that overwhelm your rooms. Clear off table tops and bookshelves. Remove as much as you can from your kitchen counter … you get the idea. Your closets, if very cluttered, may indicate that there isn’t enough storage space in your home. Try to put your home in an “ideal” condition in terms of cleanliness and clutter. Remove anything from the premises that negatively impacts the look and feel of your home.
Appliances, sinks, toilets and mechanicals should be very clean and in good working order. Pay special attention to the cleaning and condition of highlight areas such as the entry-way, kitchen and bathrooms. Buyers will carefully evaluate the condition and appeal of your kitchen and baths so those are the locations you should concentrate on first. Kitchens can make or break a sale. You can watch a few hundred episodes of those “flipping” shows on television and for the most part – it is the kitchen where they concentrate. That is no accident.
Paint exterior where necessary, especially the front door and mailbox. Clean out your garage and donate or remove all the clutter. Look at your landscaping with a critical eye on over-growth or problem plantings. Look for obvious issues such as loose or mis-aligned shutters, gutters and siding. Remove or repair antennas or satellite dishes that are in disrepair. Curb appeal is very important because buyers may choose to skip your property entirely if the exterior leaves them wanting.
Painting is the easiest and most cost effective improvement you can make. Choose neutral colors and paint any room that looks dull or soiled. Pay special attention to the condition of your kitchen and bathrooms as buyer’s place a good deal of attention and value perception on those rooms. Use conditioners, like Orange-Glo cleaner/refinishers on wooden floors and cabinetry.
Go from room to room and take note of everything you see that needs attention. Pay attention to discovering loose knows, drawers that don’t open and close properly, doors that stick, squeaky hinges, burned out light bulbs, clogged drains, – etc. After you have made your list, get started as soon as possible and hire professionals when necessary.
Make sure that you clean your basement and basement floors. Basement cement dust will get tracked through the house by buyers. Vacuum and clean your mechanicals and the floor around them.
Final Check – After you have gone through the entire house repairing, panting and cleaning, invite a friend or neighbor to inspect your work. Allow them the freedom to be as critical as possible when offering their opinions. Better to hear the news now – before the potential buyers start looking at your property.
By this point in the “ready for sale” process, all furniture in your home has been scrutinized and removed, arranged or replaced to best show the property. All artwork handing on your walls should be carefully considered and exchanged or removed. A few bright modern art pieces can add some dramatic effect. Most professional stagers will find great affordable pieces at stores such as TJMax Homestore, Small framing galleries or even Target.
- Consider lighting up the fireplace during the colder months
- Clean out closets and be sure clothes are hanged neatly
- Hang extra towels and tissues in the bathroom for your guests
- Have a good chair or bench and small carpet at the entry for your buyers to remove shoes
- Add fresh flowers where appropriate
- Open drapes to allow light in
- Play soft music during open houses
- Put cedar chips inside the closets
- Remove magnets and notes from refrigerator
- Remove personal possession, like photos, trophies and mementos
- Set the dining room table and/or eat-at-counter table for a dinner party
- Stage garage – clean up oily floors, straighten tools and other equipment
The exterior landscape of your home is very important; especially the front. Curb appeal, as we have said, is very important to buyers. While investment in new plantings may not a pay back, but cleaning things up and making some minor adjustments may have considerable value.
- Add colorful plants or flowers near front door and porch area
- Consider re-painting or re-staining a deck if the wood is worn out
- Repair damaged, rusty or bent fencing
- Keep trash area clean and organized
- Keep walks, steps and driveway obstacle-free
- Lawn should always be mowed and trimmed
- Prune trees and bushes
- Rake fallen leaves
- Remove unnecessary items such as gardening equipment
- Remove debris and personal items on deck and porch
- Remove signs such as “Beware of Dog”
- Remove weeds and dead or dying plants or flowers
- Replace welcome mat at the doorway with a new “warm” welcome mat
- Re-sod bare spots on lawn
A special note to pet owners – Your home should be put into a condition where there is no evidence of pets. This includes stains, smells and pet hair. After you have made your home to appear and smell “petless”, go ahead and remove all the pet items such as food bowls, toys and the like as to not give potential buyers the indication to look for pet issues. We don’t advocate “hiding” the fact that you own pets, but rather – repair the pet issues and remove the pet if possible once the repairs have been made.