Love at first sight applies to homes too. First impressions can decide if a buyer LOVES your home once they open the front door, or not-- assuming, that is, that they stopped after seeing the exterior. Don't forget, getting your home ready to sell is important from the exterior as well.
"Curb Appeal" is essential! A mowed lawn and weeded garden create a positive first impression. If your yard is out of hand, potential buyers may not see past the yard work they will have to do to make it look nice, to notice the beauty of the home. Plant new flowers, especially up the walkway, or at the front gate. If you have a fence and it needs work, get it done, and then put in a few colorful plants.
Inspect the exterior of your property: Make sure your shutters are not broken or hanging half off; there should be no broken or cracked windows, or tape residue left on from the last hurricane. If the house needs painting, or a new roof, buyers will notice these negatives and weigh them against the price you are asking. Make sure they see the value of the home and not the work they will have to put into it, or what defects they might use to ask you to lower your price. A good spray wash can make an enormous difference to your roof and walls, and you may not have to paint.
The front door and porch area should be clean and swept. Giving the front door a fresh coat of paint can spruce up your look in minutes! Potted flowers near the front door are especially cheerful. Buy a bright new welcome mat if yours is dirty or damaged. Fix those broken house numbers or invest in new ones. Little things can make a big difference. If you have too many things (birdbath, statues, plants in their pots you never got around to planting) in your front yard, all that stuff will distract from the house itself--remove them.
Now that your home has curb appeal, what are potential Buyers going to see when they open the front door? That’s where "Staging" can be a big help, especially if you’ve lived in a home for a long time, you might need fresh eyes to see where to edit the interior to make it attractive to Buyers. Let’s start with the basics.
What’s that smell?
That smell you’ve gotten used to and don’t notice when you walk through the door unless you’ve been gone a long time, might be the first thing that turns Buyers off. Cats and dogs bring their own odors to a home that we become immune to. First, clean, clean, clean, and if that doesn’t make your home smell inviting, get an automatic room freshener or simmer some potpourri and make that first impression an aaaaaah! not an eew!
Clean or Paint?
Give special attention to the entryway, door frames, kitchen, and bathrooms. Shampoo the carpet if necessary. If the carpet is worn or old, consider replacing or removing it if hardwood floors are underneath. Don’t forget the baseboards, and check for cobwebs in the corners, on the light fixtures, fans, and ceilings! When you’re done cleaning you might realize it’s time to paint. A fresh coat of paint can make all the difference in a room.
One of the first things that is distracting to buyer is too much stuff. We all have our nick-nacketty-doo-dads all over the place--gifts and souvenirs from places we’ve been--put these away! (Consider it your first step toward packing.) Remove personal items and photos that put your mark on the home (might be a good time to have a garage sale). Buyers want to envision themselves in the space: Make sure they see "a" home and not "your" home.
Repair and Replace
It's time to repair those easily fixable items you were going to do yourself but never got around to, such as, loose doorknobs, broken dishwasher, dripping faucet, or squeaky doors. Things you’ve gotten used to ignoring, a buyer will notice right away.
Closets (yes, here too)
Closet space is important to buyers, so it's critical to have well organized and clutter-free closets, regardless of the relative size of the closet. Even large walk-in closets should be neat and tidy. This is another great opportunity to start packing . . . less cluttered closets seem bigger, so don’t plan to hide the clutter in here.
Open all the curtains, turn on every light, and leave every door open so buyers feel welcome to look around and wander. This is when your hard work in cleaning will make the rooms sparkle! Sunshine through the windows is a big plus that’s free--a great view helps too. (Don’t forget the back yard. Now’s the time to remove that rusty old broken swing set. Make a trip to the dump--get it out of the way and get a big jump start on moving.)
Place a bowl of fresh fruit on the dining room table, fresh flowers on the coffee table, on the nightstand in the bedroom, even on the counter in the bathroom. A few fresh greens or flowers can turn a plain interior into a magazine layout. If you still feel your home needs help, try "staging"...
You don’t have to use Home Staging, but it helps! Home Stagers have an eye for where to remove extra furniture, or, where to add some if needed, to keep the decor relative to the size of the space. A balance of space and decor is something we lose when we accumulate things over years. If you do it yourself, be careful not to remove too much stuff, as bare rooms may also be unappealing.
Once the clutter is gone, consider re-arranging the existing furnishings to make the space flow. A home stager can bring a fresh eye to your static decor. You may need to invest in a few things, like new towels or rugs to freshen a tired kitchen or bath, a house plant or two, or new paintings or lamps. A professional can help you decide what to buy that will make the biggest improvement, and know where to get it to keep you within your budget.