You’ve decided to sell your home. When you first moved in, you had nothing but what was in the back of your SUV and a rocking Pinterest board. But a marriage, two cats and a kid later, you can’t find an empty drawer.
Now you’ve got to prepare your home for the quickest sale you can, since you urgently need more space and want to move your family before the new school year begins. So what can you to do gain an edge?
Before getting started, take some time to get organized. When selling a home, the most important thing to remember is that buyers want to imagine themselves in your home and see it as the canvas where their individual dreams can play out. So as hard as it is to eschew your personal style and as intimidating as it is to rid yourself of gifts, toys and memories: it’s time.
But fear not. We’re here to help you turn your lived-in home into a Neat Home in three easy steps:
Unpacking is hard enough, having to detail a new house before you unpack adds unwanted inconvenience. Buyers need to know they’re moving into a clean home. First impressions are everything, and they begin at the curb. Prospective buyers drive by your home, see your Neat Homes sign from afar and if they like the neighborhood, you’ll be getting a call based on the exterior alone.
Start by mowing your lawn and covering up bald patches of grass. Trim branches and hedges. Fill in old, dry mulch with fresh mulch of the same color. And if you really want to impress, plant some new flowers to make your home feel more inviting.
Then look if there are any small projects you’ve been putting off. Are there broken walkways you can easily fix? Do your light fixtures work? Can you seal that crack you keep tripping on?
Then go deeper- obliterate cobwebs in the corners, flush out gutters, and even taking an afternoon to roll some fresh paint on the door. It’s amazing how a space can be elevated simply with a deep clean and new coat of paint. Zillow analyzed 135,000 homes and determined that houses with black or charcoal gray front doors sold or as much as $6,271 more! Red doors mean “welcome” in some traditions and good luck in others. In Scotland, it means a mortgage is paid off. Sometimes a tasteful novelty color like yellow can help a home look fresh and modern.
If your buyers can’t navigate your space, they won’t see what your home has to offer. This is the difference between clean and tidy. Too much clutter can make a home feel small, crowded, or uncomfortable. Numerous magnets from your travels to the 50 states can distract from your new stainless-steel fridge. If a buyer trips over kids toys or dog bones, even worse.
Now you don’t have to toss all your prized belongings. Instead, organize your treasures into boxes and neatly organize them in a storage unit, garage shelves or under beds. Keep in mind that every cabinet will be opened by potential buyers, so what you do have present in your home during the open house will likely be shown to the public. Consider this when organizing items throughout the home. You don’t want the same reaction Monica got when her secret hoarding closet was revealed on Friends.
Your home photos and 3D virtual tour are often the first thing home buyers see when researching your dwelling. So staging has to begin before you have your first showing. This is the final touch – like the makeup and costumes actors put on just before their big number. Check out our post on making your home camera ready here.
When you schedule your open house, your staging matters even more. Every single corner of your home will be shown and it’s time to create a space that is not only clean and organized, but also inviting and aesthetically pleasing.
Once you’ve put away all your personal items, cleaned and dusted, it’s time to make your home look as functional as possible. Reposition furniture to create symmetrical conversation spaces. That’s where buyers will discuss their offer with their agents. It doesn’t hurt if you position your chairs so they have a great view of the lake behind your house.
Have a small or quirky space? Find creative ways to turn it from wasteful to charming. Can you put a kids’ nook under the stairs? Does your tiny patio fit a charming Parisian-style table and chair? Is that awkward bit of the basement perfect for a yoga corner or wine alcove?
What season is it? Can you play to its strengths? Highlight fireplaces in the winter, make your pool area look irresistible in the summer. But if you’re that person who just can’t get enough of Halloween and are invested in reenacting your favorite horror movie, you may want to wait until after the decorations come down to list your home.
Consider your artwork. If it feels dusty or dated, consider swapping it out for some contemporary pieces. Swap out old rugs—a fresh new rug can bring a space to life—and cover up flaws. Another cost-effective quick fix is adding some stylish accent pillows to couches and beds.
Bathrooms are another prime area for staging. Towels should be clean, fluffy and thoughtfully folded. Lightly scented candles, healthy plants and new robes also can turn an ordinary bathroom into a spa-like room of relaxation and indulgence.
Lastly, make sure to spruce up your kitchen. Beyond removing items that cover your glistening quartz countertops, make sure everything is wiped down and smells great. Much like the bathroom, towels should be neatly folded and clean. Cut flowers or a bowl of lemons (nothing that smells too strong) will make your space look fresh and clean. Many home tours end in a kitchen—it’s the heart of a home so make it one where your buyers can imagine entertaining guests and feeding their loved ones.