You may think your home is perfect the way it is, but after living in your space for a long period of time, you’re likely to overlook the smallest things that can have the biggest impact when it comes to selling your home. Part of the home selling process involves preparing your home to enter the market, and that requires more than just a quick clean. The longer your home stays on the market, the harder it will be to sell, so setting a great first impression is very important if you want to appeal to buyers and close the deal faster. Committing to the whole process may seem daunting, but if you take it step-by-step, you’ll wind up with a beautiful home that’s ready to welcome (and impress) any prospective buyer!
Remove Personal Items
Disassociating and letting go of your home before you’ve moved out can be a difficult task, but removing the personal elements from your home will help bring it back to its original state as a space to be filled by new occupants. Take down personal photographs, heirlooms, mementos and any other items that might distract buyers. The cleaner and depersonalized the space is, the easier it’ll be for potential buyers to envision themselves in the space and visualize how it may look filled up with their own personal items.
When looking at furniture pieces, try to remove anything that leaves a big impression, like a leopard couch, a bright green chair or a large eclectic rug. This way, buyers won’t be distracted from the functionality of the space or key features of each room while processing big, bold pieces.
The goal of decluttering is to make each room look and feel more spacious. To give you an idea of how intensely you should declutter, consider the fact that most home stagers recommend removing 50% of your items when showing your home. Potential buyers will be on the lookout for big kitchens, spacious bathrooms and ample storage spaces, so keep that in mind when you approach your decluttering task.
Don’t just throw items haphazardly in closets, because during an open house, buyers have the freedom to look at anything they choose, and you can bet they’ll be opening those closets to see what kind of storage space they offer. If you need to use your closets to store items when you declutter, do so by using neatly stacked and labeled bins, baskets or cubbies to make your storage solutions look more pleasing to the eye.
Decluttering also applies to bigger pieces in your home, not just small knick-knacks. Consider the size and scale of your furniture and make sure buyers can easily navigate around the pieces to explore the space. Make sure nothing large is blocking key architectural features, windows or doors.
If you’re reading this section and worrying about where you’ll store all your belongings during the home selling period, you may want to consider renting a storage unit to keep your belongings offsite. Most storage units rent by the month, and you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 – $300 per month, depending on the location, climate control, security and size of the space required. You may also consider hiring a professional organizer at this stage to help you go through all your belongings and downsize as you declutter to ensure what comes with you for the move is what you really want/need for the future.
In some seller’s markets, you may be able to sell a home in lived-in condition without much complaint, but in normal or buyer’s markets, repairs can actually make or break a sale. Repairs can include things like changing burned out lightbulbs, touching up paint, patching holes in the wall, fixing leaky faucets and replacing cracked tiles. Take a tour of your own home and make note of any issues/items that need to be dealt with. Then you can take on the task list one room at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed if you have a lot of small items to check off the list.
Stage Your Home
Once you’ve depersonalized, decluttered and made your repairs, it’s time to formally stage your home before welcoming buyers inside. According to Realtor.com, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than those that aren’t staged at all. Staging helps give rooms purpose so buyers can see how they might use them if they purchased the home.
You likely have an idea of what residents find appealing about living in your area and what may attract them to your home. For example, if you know your house is a good starter home that will attract young families, be sure to set up one bedroom as a possible nursery or playroom. If your two-bedroom condo unit is going to appeal to single buyers, think about staging that second bedroom as a home office or walk-in-closet.
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to professionally stage your whole home, you can still achieve great success by focusing on the most important rooms like the kitchen, living room, main suite and bathrooms. Staging is mostly about the little details so think about how you can freshen up each individual room and go from there:
Kitchen: Add a big bowl of fresh fruit and set the table with some beautiful linens.
Living Room: Place a comfy throw blanket on the couch, fluff up the pillows and put a vase of fresh flowers on the coffee table.
Bathroom: Put out fluffy new towels and a dish of decorative soaps.
Main Suite: Drape a decorative throw on the edge of the bed and set out a curated tray with a beautiful book, a bottle of wine and a candle.
You may have to look at updating your furniture if there’s a chance it will take away from the staging success (i.e., bad condition or outdated pieces). If you don’t have the budget to buy new furniture before moving, you could also consider renting some pieces and placing yours in a storage unit temporarily.
Keep It Clean
Once you’ve decluttered, you’ll need to deep clean as it’s likely all the movement of furniture and decor has exposed some not-so-clean areas. Doing a good deep clean can take some time, but hiring a professional can help you get things done quickly and efficiently at the start, which will make it easier to keep clean over the course of time while your house is on the market. Since showings can happen at a moment’s notice, it’s always wise to create a cleaning schedule and stick to it while your home is on the market. This means you’ll always be ready to show your space, even as you continue to live there. Enlist each member of the family to help with certain tasks and make it a habit to repeat certain tasks at a high frequency, like cleaning kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities, emptying garbage bins, keeping the landscaping tidy and sweeping/vacuuming the floors before you leave the house.
When you’ve lived in a home for a number of years, you may overlook the little details that can actually make or break a sale. If you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s important that you focus on seeing things from the buyer’s perspective so you can ensure that what you present, is what people are looking for and not what you like most. If you have questions about selling your home, or you aren’t sure where to start with the whole process, reach out to our team of qualified professionals.