Here in Mercer County, the first sign of spring isn’t crocuses sprouting up through sidewalks or flocks of birds chirping merrily in the morning. The first sign of spring, is, quite literally, signs. The kind that say “For Sale” and tend to pop up on lawns all over town, usually with a number to call and an agent on the other line.
Statistically, spring is usually the busiest time of year when it comes to new real estate coming onto the market. However, just because it’s a popular time to list a home doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to toss your home on the market if it hasn’t been properly prepared. After all, while the season is favorable, that also means the MLS will soon be packed with hundreds of new listings just as abundant as wild crocuses – so how can you make your precious abode stand out?
Here are seven ideas to get you started.
START WITH A CLEAN SWEEP OF THE OUTSIDE
First impressions count. From the moment your prospective buyer parks their car and walks towards your front door, everything is under scrutiny. Here’s where you come in. Walk that walk – but put on your prospective buyer goggles and try to imagine it from the buyer’s perspective. Is the driveway crumbling? Are there dead spots on the lawn? Broken stones underfoot? Could flowers brighten up the walkway? Is there dying bush near the front window? How about the front door, could it use a fresh coat of paint and maybe a new welcome mat? The importance of creating a bright, clean and inviting outdoor entrance can’t be underestimated. Remember, it’s the first thing buyers see, and the last thing buyers remember.
Yes, packing. You may not be planning to actually move for months. But eventually, you’re going to have to start moving your items from one house to the next. Why not start now. Even rent a storage facility if need be. Packing up clutter and unneeded items airs out your home, makes it look cleaner, and gives you a chance to organize the storage spaces within your domain to make them look roomier – and what buyer isn’t looking for more storage space!
DECLUTTER & DEPERSONALIZE
See above item. It’s one thing to pack away those VCR tapes you haven’t watched since the last time you had a working VCR (read: The first Bush was in office). But when you have sellers strolling about your home, you want them to be able to imagine themselves living in it. That means, it’s time to ‘depersonalize’ your home to the best of your ability. Remove pictures. Photo albums. Kids artwork you’ve got displayed on the fridge. Today’s buyers have become accustomed to looking at generic, Houzz-type photos of homes that have been professionally staged by pros who know all the tricks and right camera angles, so to make sure your house looks just as good — do what you can to de-personalize your home and give it that “dream home” feel.
CLEAN UP TIME
Not saying you don’t have a clean home. I’m sure you have a VERY clean home. But, let’s face it, just about everyone’s home could benefit from a forensic-style cleaning. So what can you do? Scrub the windows (outside and in). Dust the blinds. Open every cabinet, drawer and closet (you can bet your prospective buyer will). Is every nook and cranny of your casa as clean and organized as it could be? Could the walls use a good wash? Is the grout around the showers and toilets looking fresh as a summer’s day? Are the tiles shiny? Is the floor in decent shape? It may seem like a thankless job, but you’ll be happy when your home sells first!
You may love your darling Fido or grumpy cat or pretty parrot, but for some buyers, a home with pets is a huge turnoff. What can you do? Do your best to keep ‘pet things’ (bowls, leashes, toys) out of sight during open house and visits. Maybe arrange for a neighbor to keep your pet in their home while a prospective buyer visits your. It’s not a bad idea to have a third-party do a pet sweep, looking for evidence (litter box, carpet accidents) or other tell-tale signs that a four-legged or two-legged creature shares this space as well. And about those odors you hardly notice anymore, a scented candle never hurts.
GIVE EXTRA LOVE TO YOU KITCHEN
We all know that it’s not really the house that sells. It’s the kitchen. Whatever you can do to spruce up your kitchen will usually pay off, nearly dollar for dollar. Not saying you’ll need to splash granite on the counters and upgrade every appliance, but small “quick” fixes” can help. How about a fresh coat of paint? Or putting new knobs on the cabinet doors. Don’t forget about fixing broken drawers, leaky faucets or garbage disposals that make odd, guttural noises when you turn them on. De-clutter your countertops, and don’t forget to clean out the oven and any appliances that will remain. Here’s a quick tip: Purchase the highest-quality stainless steel counter appliance you can afford, even if your other appliances aren’t up to par, it will give buyers the idea your kitchen is high-end.
GET A SECOND OPINION (AND MAYBE EVEN A THIRD)
Like anything important in life, a second opinion is vital when it comes to getting your home ready to face the market. If you’ve lived in your home for any length of time, it’s likely you’ve grown accustomed to its darling quirks, peculiarities and maybe an odor or two you don’t even notice anymore. But, hey, that’s what friends are for. That leaky faucet that puts you to sleep with it’s dulcet tones – yeah, you know the one – your neighbor might red flag that as something that ‘needs to be addressed.’ It’s always a great idea to do a walk-thru of your home with a friend or even a professional REALTOR, to discuss ways that your home could be made more buyer-friendly before you go up against the other homes in the neighborhood. And if you really have your heart set on listing by spring – there’s no time like the present to get started.
Good luck selling. For more info or advice on selling your home,