A clean and tidy home will not guarantee it will sell quickly. But one that isn’t WILL keep it from selling.
Buyers are finicky, and will very quickly strike your home right off the short-list of candidates, regardless of if it meets all other criteria to entertain the property for an offer. If your home shows over and over and does not sell, or only attracts low-ball offers, maybe it’s time to look at how ship-shape it is. If your home is on the market for too long, realtors who have already seen it will begin to ignore it. It has become “stale”.
So, use this list to make sure it’s ready for prime-time before you start showing it.
Get a Home Inspection
Having a home inspection done by a professional inspector is money well spent. Running between $250 – $500, it will provide you with an un-biased, objective opinion by someone who has seen hundreds or even thousands of homes.
Sometimes, inspectors will find things you didn’t know about your home that are in need of attention and would make a potential buyer balk.
If necessary, make any repairs BEFORE putting your home on the market.
What If I Can’t Afford the Repairs?
Sometimes, a home inspection will uncover repairs you can’t afford, but are necessary. You should still get estimates for the work, because they will help a buyer determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Whenever possible, use all your manufacturer warranties to get things fixed.
Make sure also that all user manuals for your furnace, A/C, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other similar appliances are available for the potential buyer to review.
If Repair Costs are Minor. Do It!
Once again. It’s money well spent to make repairs of as many defects as possible. It will give the impression that you have maintained the home well, and a possible buyer will feel at ease that no major problems are to be expected if they decide to make an offer. Small things like sticky or squeaky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets, stained carpets, cracked drywall, burnt out lights, loose fixtures, worn door handles may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house wasn’t well maintained.
Eliminate the Mess
A lived-in home is not always ready to show. We all have pets, kids and ourselves rushing about to go to school or work, and that means we tend to leave things strewn about.
Unfortunately, that will work against you during a showing. The mess distracts the buyer and keeps from seeing the home itself. It provides too many “other” things that they may not like and will unconsciously influence the impression they form.
Take a tour and make a list of things to clear or clean out – kitchen counters, closets, bedrooms and beds, toys and pet items. Spend a little money on closet organizers if you don’t have them. Get rid of old clothes, shoes that you haven’t used in a while. If you have a lot of furniture that contributes to the impression of “clutter”, put as much as you can in storage, especially the large items. Remove personal items such as photos and wall hangings to depersonalize your home as much as possible.
Put things in perspective, and remove or store as much as you can during the period while you are marketing and showing your home. It’s only temporary!
Clean, Clean and Clean Again
First impressions are usually the strongest and longest lasting. Your home needs to show that it has been cared for and not mistreated or ignored. Once again, a small investment is money well spent, so if you can’t do it yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning service.
Areas of particular attention should be carpets & flooring, counter tops, cabinets, drawers and behind the stove & refrigerator. Under the sink, bathtubs and showers. Don’t forget to clean windows and doors and the attic or basement if you have one. Open the doors and windows to get fresh air in the home, pay attention to odors and use deodorizer if you have pets.
The Outside Matters Too
Don’t forget the exterior!! The exterior of your home must be made inviting so it will draw buyers inside for a look. So, make sure your roof is clean and if the paint is over 5 years old, consider giving the exterior walls a fresh coat. Inspect the driveway and fix any cracks or oil stains. Clean and polish door knobs and windows. Finally, clear any shrubs or overgrown plants that clutter the entrance and finish it off with some landscaping if you can afford it.
During showings, your home is “on a date”. It needs to look the best for someone to fall in love with it.