You’re Ready to Sell Your Home…

…Is it ready to be seen?

Most sellers experience a great deal of anxiety when the time comes to open their homes to prospective buyers. Some sellers paint inside and out, install new carpet, or even replace the roof. Others merely vacuum and dust. There is a happy medium where getting your home ready to show may not be as difficult as you might think (or try to make it!).

An excellent excercise for you is to get in your car with a pad and pen, take a short drive, and pretend you’re a buyer going out to look at an open house. Now drive back to your house, but instead of going into the driveway park across the street from your house to get a buyer’s perspective. Get out of the car with your pad and pen and study your home’s curb appeal. (Your neighbors may think you’re strange, but what the heck, you’re moving anyway, right?!)

First pay close attention to your landscape. Now may not be the time for heavy pruning, but some light trimming may make give your home that “well groomed” look. A little shot of fertilizer can green up a lawn quickly, and a visit to your local nursery will reveal several varieties of colorful flowering annuals to brighten up beds. Keeping walkways and hardscape areas clean, eliminating weeds, fallen leaves and general debris is tantamount to putting a sign on your home that says “Come on in!”

The condition of the exterior structure should be your next area of inspection. Look for loose or missing shingles on the roof, cracked and/or peeling paint, stains on exterior finishes, torn window screens, etc. A buyer is likely to view any items of deferred maintenance to justify a lower opinion of value. One small investment that pays huge dividends is clean windows; they reflect light and make your home sparkle like a jewel!

Now step inside your home, once again pretending that this is the first time you’ve ever done so and try to be objective. Scan the spaces as you walk through the home and keep in mind that spaciousness is one of the most desirable characteristics today’s buyers are looking for. Make sure traffic flow patterns in the home are unobstructed and generally try to furnish rooms to make them look and seem larger (this may require you to put some furniture and/or artwork in storage).

The “brightness” of your home’s interior is also very important to most buyers. Someone once told me that dark surfaces “eat” light; how “hungry” is YOUR home? You may need to consider some painting, removing dark curtains (you can always offer to put them back if a buyer wants them), and perhaps even new carpet (choosing a neutral color is essential!).

Eliminating clutter in your home is one of the easiest and most inexpensive “home improvement” projects. Clean and clear countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as well organized closets and storage areas allow a buyer to mentally unpack THEIR possessions. If you appear to be overcrowded in your home, it’s very logical for a buyer to feel that they may also be.

The best advice you can get is from your real estate agent, who has seen hundreds of homes and knows how to best show yours. Once your home has been seen and/or shown by other agents, have your agent obtain feedback from them and their buyers as to what changes you can make to further enhance your home’s appeal. Remember, you don’t have to quit living in your home, but a few lifestyle changes could translate into more money in your pocket when it sells!