Preparing Your Home To Show and Sell

One of the most important aspects of marketing real estate is properly preparing the home for sale. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing a home sell far below it's potential, simply because it wasn't ready to be shown. In most cases, the market reaction to a home can be greatly improved with a minimal investment of time and money. Nobody wants to sink money into a property that they will soon be leaving, but in fact, the seller usually pays either way. Unfortunately, if you decide not to make repairs, buyers will grossly overestimate the costs and deduct them from their offer price. Pay now! Pay less! Let's take a look at the things you should consider doing at your home to market it for a top dollar sale.

Property Inspection
The first step you should take towards preparing your home for sale is to personally conduct a thorough inspection of the property from top to bottom, inside and out. This is the time to start seeing all those little things that you've decided not to see over the months and years, in hopes that they'd just go away. They're not going to go away by themselves. In fact, they'll come back to haunt you if you don't look after them now.

Take a notepad with you and walk through the home, one room at a time. Carefully inspect the property just as you might if you were thinking about buying it again. Ask yourself these simple questions as you go.

How does the paint or wallpaper look in this room? Battered walls give buyers the impression that the home is rough around the edges. There is not likely a better investment that you can make than a fresh coat of paint on dirty or beat up walls. Yes, the buyer might just repaint when they get there, but the better they look today, the more you'll be paid.

Are the floor coverings clean and presentable? Dirty carpets are a big turn off for homebuyers. You want potential buyers to feel at home. Don't make them feel afraid to remove their shoes. Get the carpets professionally cleaned if they need attention.

Are the door and closet knobs tight?  Spend a few minutes with your screwdriver. We'll bet you'll find some loose door and closet knobs. Check the hardware on the cupboards to.

Are the blinds clean, or do they look like there's something living on them? Is there guck and dirt in the window track? How about the windows themselves? Is the furniture dusted?
Overall cleanliness is the most important factor in presenting the home well. Even people that don't have the greatest habits when it comes to cleanliness are disgusted by the thought of cleaning up someone else's dirt. Yech! If it's not clean when it's shown, they'll naturally assume it will be dirty when they take possession. Look everywhere for dirt, and get rid of it. Check behind the toilets and taps, under appliances, on the furnace and water heater and on top of door and window casings. You know that fuzzy stuff that's stuck to the fans and cold air returns. It's gotta go too!

Are the personal belongings kept neat and tidy? Yes, this matters to. Buyers tend to view a home just the way it is and conclude as follows. "This is the way this home is. If I buy this home, it will look this way when I live here to". Now, you and I both know that that's not necessarily true, but if the buyer believes it's so, it's so! Take some time to get your personal effects in order. Start packing now. Box up the things that are just hanging around collecting dust and neatly stack them away in the storage room. Organize closets and remove unused or out of season items to give the impression of roominess. Can't move in a couple of those rooms? Try removing a piece of furniture or two to create a more open spacious feeling.

Kitchens, Baths & Entryways
Pay particularly close attention to these rooms. These are the places where dirt and disorder cause the greatest offense. Scrub those cupboards inside and out (yes, people do look in there). Remove as much as you possibly can from counter tops to show off just how much there is. Sure, you can keep the coffee maker and canisters there, but do the electric frying pan, food processor, juice maker, bread maker, and all that work you brought home, really have to be there. Oh by the way, see all that lovely artwork that junior did that's proudly displayed on the front of the fridge? Can we just put it away for a little while? Remember, we're trying to create as much order as possible and eliminate as many potential distractions as we can. Entryways should also shine, as this is the first area the buyer sees.

Exterior Inspection
We've all heard the saying, "you don't get a second chance to make a first impression." Spend some time preparing to make the buyer's initial impression of your home positive and pleasing.

Is the siding and trim well maintained or is it blistering & peeling? Is the doorbell working? Do the mailbox and house number look appealing or are they rusted and weather worn? Again, a little paint, a twenty-dollar mailbox, and a cheap doorbell can go a long way in improving the first impression that a buyer might have of many homes.

Are the trees and shrubs out of control or neatly trimmed? Is the lawn cut and edged? Does the driveway look like an oil field? If it's winter, has the snow been removed from the drive and walkways? You'll want to pay some additional attention to your yard as you market your home. Remember, buyers begin to scrutinize before they even get out of the car. Keep your lawn well watered and cut. Don't have the time? Hire a professional yard service to look after it for the short period of time that your home is on the market. It'll be money well spent!

Garage & Tool Shed
Give the garage and tool shed a quick once over. Cleanliness is not as important in these areas, but general tidiness is always a plus. Again, you'll probably find that there's lots of stuff you can pack up now and get out of the way. Hey, speaking of garages! Now might be the perfect time to host that big garage sale. You can get rid of all that stuff you keep hauling from one house to the next and never using in between!

For a more suggestions on preparing your home for sale view our Home Seller's Preparation List.