Monday, February 6, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
Even if you're not moving, you will find these tips also make your home more relaxing and enjoyable to live in.
1. Consider the curb appeal.
Landscaping is nice, but not in everyone's budget. At minimum, lawns should be freshly mowed, leaves raked, or snow shoveled. Consider a hanging or potted plant for the entrance. Sweep the porch, deck and all walk ways and ensure garbage and recycling are tucked neatly away from the front of the house.
Scrub your front door, porch, outside railings and steps. This is cheaper than repainting and makes a world of difference. Once the outside entrance is clean, decide if the paint really needs a touch up.
2. Get rid of clutter!
Pick one closet or area at a time so the task isn't as daunting. Look at every item with a very critical eye and ask yourself why you're keeping it.
Remember that how you live in your home and how you sell your house are two entirely different things. You're going for a "show home" look.
Forget about hanging onto items for a garage sale. Pick your favorite charity and donate it. You paid for these things long ago, why not just give them away to others who REALLY need them?
You'll probably have to edit the same closets a number of times to really whittle them down to the "essentials". If rooms and closets still look cramped, rent a storage locker.
Removing clutter is an important starting point. A home staging professional will also know how to draw attention to the room's best features and create a focal point.
3. Turn excess inventory into cash.
If you have a collection of items for projects you never got around to, return them. This also applies to the two-year supply of light bulbs, canned goods or paper products sitting in your basement.
Without a receipt you won't get cash, but you will have a store credit that you can use once you move. Less clutter and less stuff to pack, move and unpack again!
4. Watch where the eye goes.
There are speedy and low cost solutions to many of the little problems that together make a home seem shabbier than it needs to.
Walk along each corridor and into every room and check where your eye is drawn (better yet, ask a critical friend or family member). If the eye is drawn to the chipped white paint on the door frame, take some "white out" and fill it in. If it's those old nail holes in the wall, see if you can hang a picture to cover them.
Glue any peeling wallpaper. If it's really horrible and you can't afford the time or money to fix it properly, hang pictures and strategically place baskets. You won't cover the problem entirely (which would be wrong anyway), but you will draw your audience's attention away from the problem and onto something more visually pleasing to focus on.
5. Find a fix-it person.
Ensure cupboards open and shut and that no taps are dripping. Look in all rooms for things you never got around to fixing and decide which ones might be distracting to potential buyers. No, it's not OK for door handles to fall off, even if you have learned to ignore it!
6. Clean, clean and clean again.
Most mortals can't live in a spotless environment all the time. This can be one of the more stressful aspects of having your home on the market— but it's worth the effort to sell your home for top dollar. You can hire a professional service to come in and deep clean everything; then take 20-30 minutes each day to maintain it.
Appliances should sparkle even if you're not including them with the house. After all, you might throw them in later as a negotiating tool. Counter tops, taps, sinks and bathtubs should be shiny and free of water spots.
If you have a pedestal sink, don't forget the dust that collects on top of the plumbing where it attaches to the wall. If the whole sink is spotless and the taps aren't dripping, it will look new!
Dust shelves and vacuum or "Swiffer" the floors. Naturally, all beds should be made. At a recent open house for a home listed over $500,000 (and over 60 days on the market), they hadn't even bothered with these two simple steps! It made you wonder what bigger things had been neglected.
Remember clean windows let in more light and look newer. Hire a service if you have to— it's worth the investment.
If all this attention to detail seems over the top, remember that a very clean home leaves the impression that the house is well cared for. This helps put buyers at ease— especially a first time buyer who may be worried about the responsibilities of owning a house.
7. Let in some air.
Open some windows for at least 10 minutes. There is nothing worse than walking into a stuffy house or one that smells of smoke and pet odors.
8. Let in some light.
It might be mood lighting to you, but if you're trying to sell your home, keep it bright! Dimly lit rooms tend to look small and dingy— especially during the day.
If you have a particularly dark room, consider investing in a floor lamp that will bounce light off the ceiling.
If your walls are so dark that they're sucking up all the light, consider repainting. You can even buy a small can of a lighter shade of your wall color, mix it with glaze and rub it onto the wall. It will reflect light and give the room a more open feeling. This approach saves much of the preparation and clean up involved in repainting.
9. Don't forget fresh flowers.
You don't need to spend a fortune to have fresh flowers throughout your home. Even a daisy in a bud vase brightens a bathroom counter. Ask your florist which blooms last a week. You can also use potted flowering plants that are in season for a low-cost solution.
Don't use plastic or obviously fake flowers, especially in an expensive home!
10. Carefully consider music.
Soft background music can help create a soothing environment and camouflage neighbor and traffic noise. But make sure the volume is very low. Blaring TVs are definitely a no-no, but you'd be surprised how many people leave them on for showings!
Does your house look like a show home yet?
Step back and look at your home with the eye of a highly critical buyer. One of Debra Gould's clients said it well when he described what he called "the sock on the TV syndrome." In other words, something has been sitting for so long in one place in your house that you don't even see it anymore.
Be honest with yourself, if you've left a room looking like the one at left for years, will you really have the energy and the vision to turn it into the room at right before your house goes on the market?