Most buyers predictably respond to the same things - clean, clutter-free homes in a good state of repair. You may want to spruce things up with a fresh paint job and definitely ensure that you address any major repairs that may be required. Those are big ticket items, but what can you do on a smaller scale (and budget) to get your home ready to compete successfully on the real estate market?
There are a number of tried and true things you can use to make sure your prospective home buyer sees what you want them to see, and overlooks what you want them to overlook. Keeping your home in tip-top shape for showings will insure that your prospective home buyer will offer more money than for a home that isn't ready.
Always look at a home from the prospective home buyer's perspective. Be objective and honest with yourself. If something bothers you about your home, chances are good it will bother the prospective home buyer, too. Do what you can to eliminate the problem. You want to minimize any negative objections that the prospective home buyer may have. Preparing your FSBO home for sale generally means you'll be putting some elbow grease into it, so get ready.
Have a garage sale before the home is listed. This is a great opportunity to get rid of any clutter and provides the prospective home buyer to really see your home. Clean out and get rid of anything that you think you won't need in your next home. Pack away all that you can. Be sure, though, to find the fine line between clutter and emptiness.
Clean the drain gutters. Buyers nearly always comment if gutters are full of leaves and it makes them question other maintenance issues.
Store or organize items that make the yard look untidy.
Touch up any exterior paint that needs it, faded or chipped exterior paint is an immediate buyer turnoff. New paint is not inexpensive, but is a great way to add appeal and increase market value.
Remove debris from the roof such as tree branches and leaves. Straighten the television antenna. Untangle or remove, cable, telephone or other exposed wiring. Make any necessary repairs to worn shingles or cracked surfaces.
Flowering plants and outdoor furniture add appeal. Remove any unnecessary items such as gardening equipment. Clean and tidy any visible items, such as an outdoor grill or barbecue. Repair cracks, missing slats, enclosures and screens.
Swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, outdoor showers and their pumps and filters should be clean and operating smoothly. Ensure that the sprinkler systems and outdoor faucets are working properly.
Make your front entry inviting. Decorate it, paint the door, or buy a new door. It's the prospective home buyer’s first impression, so make it a good one. Good curb appeal is a critical part of a successful home selling process. Your goal should be to make home buyers stop and say 'Wow!'
Welcome the buyer at the entry. Put out a new doormat, clean and polish the brass doorknob and knocker. Put potted flowers on the porch. Make sure the front entry floor is sparkling clean and the porch and steps are swept. Remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Stimulate the buyer's imagination by setting the stage. Set the dinner table with your best china and linens. Use the coziness and romance of the fireplace to advantage. Put a pair of wine glasses and a vase of flowers on the coffee table in front of the fire.
Most potential home buyers like an interior with lots of natural lighting. Start on the outside by trimming any overgrown trees and shrubs to make sure they do not obscure views or keep natural light from streaming through windows.
Make sure windows sparkle, inside and out. Clean your home's skylights, buyers always inspect skylights and sun tunnels to make sure they aren't cracked or leaking.
Be ruthless about odors. If there is a smell, your house won't sell. Use cleansers of all kinds to make the home smell fresh, but make sure you don’t create a “cleaning agent” odor. Use carpet fresheners, potpourri, room deodorizers, and scented candles. Deodorize cat litter and scoop litter daily. Put cedar chips inside the closets. Bake some cookies put them out on the kitchen table.
Create a spacious feeling. Make sure that all doors, cabinets and drawers open all the way without bumping into anything or sticking. Clean out the entry closet and put only a few hangers so that the buyer can visualize winter coats. Move any oversized furniture to a storage facility or a friend’s house. Make sure entrances to all rooms have an open flow.
Put a screen or a basket of flowers in front of a fireplace if not in use. Let the breezes move your sheer curtains at the window. Make sure the interior is visible from the street.
Create counter space. Store away those extra appliances. Put away dish racks, soap dishes and other clutter. Decrease kitchen clutter further by removing magnets, notes and kids "art" from refrigerator.
Inspect your home's closets (prospective home buyers certainly will). Do a general cleanup, store your off season wardrobe, and remove items to make closets appear more spacious.
Paint interior rooms if they are dingy. Neutral colors are usually a preferable choice, but don't feel you have to cover up an existing, dramatic color scheme.
Clean the carpets. Polish wood floors. Clean dingy grout and reseal it if necessary. Keep all floors spotless.
Make sure all doorknobs and cabinet pulls are clean and functioning. Consider a new set of kitchen cabinet pulls to make your kitchen more appealing. It's sometimes an inexpensive way to update one of the most important rooms in your home.
Repair leaky faucets. Make sure toilets flush properly.
Avoid eccentric decor. De-personalize your teenager's room, the games room or other areas by removing posters or any decorative item that could be construed as offensive. Remove hanging beads in doorways, your children's bedroom clutter and anything that won't appeal to a prospective buyer.
Increase the wattage in light bulbs in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms. For showings, turn on lights in every room.
Put photos of the family enjoying your home in different rooms throughout the home.
Now step back. Stand outside the front door, as much as 30 feet away and evaluate the feeling you get. Is the house warm and inviting? Does it feel like home?
If so, then perhaps it will to your prospective home buyer too.