How to Prepare Your House for Sale

It’s time to move, your plans are set, the house has got to go. I’ve been in this position a number of times, two of which I was able to sell the house in a matter of a couple days. How did I do it? It was simple, all you have to do is think like a Buyer, then make your house look like that.

The first step should be to go and rent a storage unit. Everyone knows a house full of clutter gives the wrong impression. It will look like you just don’t care, or the house is too small, or even like your Grand Mother lives there. Items a young couple, looking to raise a family, will find a terminal turn off. Your first inclination would be to move all the stuff into the garage, don’t do it. Get it off the property all together. Let people think you live in a show piece with just the right amount of furniture and no clutter. I realize this sound rather Utopian, but believe me, get rid of the distractions and accentuate the positives.

Its not that uncommon for crowded families to have too many beds squeezed in a room. A situation you can put up with, but the buyer will find unacceptable. For the period of the sale make sure this isn’t the case, if it means someone sleeps on the fold out sofa so be it.

You’ve got the house cleared out, now of course this also means the basement where you store unused stuff, paint, home maintenance things. Even the attic, this is a good time to empty it. All this needs to be cleared out when you move, you might as well get a jump on it.

With the house cleared out take a real critical walk through every room. What can you do to make it look more attractive to a buyer. Fresh paint is one of the quickest, cheapest, and easiest ways to add value to your home. Be sure to go with neutral colors, wild is for your taste, mild is for the new owner. Who cares if they paint it purple after they move in. Now look at the flooring. Carpet needs to be clean, hire the professionals. A hundred bucks will make a huge difference in the appearance. If your budget will allow, think of putting down wood laminate flooring in the living room if your carpet is looking kind of tacky. The kitchen or bathrooms can get a quick face lift with some new peel and stick vinyl flooring.

If you have pets, make sure there is no odor, clean, clean, clean, then clean again. Pet hair or pet odor will kill a sale before it even gets started. Ditch the litter pan before the open house starts. Put out bowls of potpourri with a mild scent to give a fresh smell.

Head outside, walk around the yard. Kids toys, the lawn mower, doggy poo, get rid of all of it. The grass looking not so good? Get some fertilizer, water the lawn for a week or so then do a good job with the mower. Be sure to weed whack too, make it look fresh and crisp. A couple bags of cheap mulch will freshen up any planter areas giving a well maintained appearance.

One trick I used was to paint the window trim and front door just before the open house. Again a clean, crisp look is a definite eye pleaser. One time I had to repaint the front door again just before closing as with a house full of teenagers it was all scuffed up between the sale and final closing.

Window treatments, have your heavy drapes been hanging there since 1960? Time to change them, it doesn’t have to be expensive, simple and clean. Being new will make all the difference in the world.

The house is perfect, go find a Realtor. Don’t be cheap and think you can do it yourself. If time is of no concern, maybe you can save a buck or two. Be careful, it’s easy to be penny wise and dollar foolish. Don’t forget the Realtor does more then just take his 6%. They track the progress of the whole loan process, making sure any required inspections get done in a timely manner. They act like a General Contractor for the whole sale, remember they don’t get paid until after the sale goes to closing. A huge incentive for them to do their job right.

With a little effort on your part and a modest expense you’ll be able to get that house sold. In a reasonable amount of time, you’ll be on your way to your next adventure. You’ll look back at the process and think, that wasn’t so hard after all.

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