How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

There are literally dozens of things you can do to prepare your home for sale that will make it look sharp and enticing to prospective buyers. This is by no means a complete list of everything that a seller should or can do to make their property stand out from the competition. These suggestions will help you get moving in the right direction so that when your home or condo is for sale you will get a better response from prospective buyers.

Exterior and Areas Surrounding the Property -

1. Eliminate all signs of deterioration such as an old mailbox or broken fence posts and replace as needed. If the exterior paint looks bad, you'll either need to paint the place or offer buyers a credit for painting.

2. Make sure the yard, flower beds, and plants all look appealing. This is a good time to have a landscaper visit your property and remove dead plants, trim trees and shrubs, mow the lawn, remove debris, clean fountains and bird baths, etc. If you have pets, pick up after them every day and fill in any holes where they have been digging!

3. Get rid of any clutter in your yard. Not everyone loves those lawn decorations, even if your best friend made that metal sculpture you adore. What you love, others may find offensive and they may not even get in the front door if they don't like the look of the yard and exterior of the property.

4. Repair, paint and dress up and kids toys, swing sets, dog houses, or other structures that will remain in the yard. Deferred maintenance of these items makes buyers wonder whether the inside has really been well maintained or just recently refreshed.

5. Check all outside lights and replace / repair any fixtures as needed. Make sure all light bulbs are working and that you have the right type of bulbs and sufficient lighting for your driveway and garage areas.

6. Clean that patio and barbecue grill so they look spotless. Do the same with lawn and deck furniture, or put those items in a storage area is they look dated or worn.

7. Patch, repair and seal the driveway and sidewalks, if needed. If you have any outdoors sporting equipment like a basketball hoop, volleyball net, etc., make sure it's in top notch condition. If it looks ancient and beat up, better to remove it temporarily or replace.

8. Look at the house numbers and replace if they are not readable from the street or they have deteriorated. Polish up the front door knocker, clean the glass, and spruce up the front entrance to make a good first impression.

9. Check all windows and screens for holes or damage. Repair or replace as necessary to maintain a high quality look. Wash all the windows one day before your property is on the local MLS tour.

10. Make 6 sets of keys for your real estate agent and test them all. If the lock is even a tiny bit sticky it makes a bad impression on buyers. Spray some lubricant (e.g. WD40) and if that is not good enough, then call a locksmith and have the lock repaired or replaced.

Interior Repairs and Improvements - Everything You Do Must Be Non-Offensive (i.e. Neutral)

1. Clean the entire home or condo from top to bottom. I recommend that you hire a professional cleaning service to assist you, or if you are an absentee owner, let them do the work. This includes cleaning the carpets, moving furniture and cleaning under and around all furnishings and decorations.

2. Remove clutter. You may love all 14 pictures of the grandkids lined up on the mantle, to a buyer it looks overwhelming and detracts from the "open feel" they are seeking. As gut wrenching as it is, this is a case where less is more. Leave enough pictures on the walls so the place doesn't look bare and an occasional knick-knack on the coffee table or mantle is ok. Pack away the dried flower arrangements, sports trophies and everything else of a personal nature so as not to distract buyers from "seeing" your property. Take a good look at all the furniture in your place and remove anything that is non-essential to make your place appear larger.

3. Paint is a cheap and relatively easy way to brighten up any property. Use neutral colors that are easy on the eyes and hire a professional unless you have done quality interior painting in the past and have confidence you can do a stellar job.

4. Replace all light bulbs that are out or missing. Replace dated light fixtures if within your budget.

5. All closets and storage areas need to be organized and cleaned. Put loose items in boxes so the place looks neater. Buying uniform size boxes from the local box company in bundles of 25 will save money and help to create a cleaner look than just grabbing boxes from the local liquor store.

6. Do you have pets? It is critical that your house not smell like animals, no matter how much you love Fido or Fluffy. Areas where pets reside must be kept meticulously clean. If you have to, burn some incense, put potpourri in strategic places and remove and replace and carpet that has been soiled. It is extremely difficult to sell any property that has pet odors or residue.

7. Put a chair or bench near the front door if people need to remove their shoes before touring your property. The lack of a place to sit is a real turn-off, especially in resort markets with aging populations.

8. Do minor repairs. Many sellers overlook the need to do touch up repairs such as caulking the tub, fixing a leaky faucet, driving loose nails into deck boards, etc. Taking care of these little details eliminates the biggest objection that buyers have when they see something amiss; "What else is wrong with the place?" Remove doubt in the minds of buyer prospects by attending to these minor repairs or hire a handyman.

All of this may seem like a daunting task, but millions of sellers do these things every year to prepare their homes for sale. Whether you hire help or do it yourself is your own personal decision. Remember, the properties that sell fastest and for the highest price are quality properties that are in good condition.

In a resort market such as Incline Village NV at Lake Tahoe or Vail, CO where buyers are looking at real estate and writing offers during a very short sales season, all of this preparation is even more essential. The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is never more true than when it comes to a buyer walking into your place for the first time. Most buyers in a high end market such as Incline Village do not want to do anything more than paint or carpet. So, do yourself a favor and make your property appeal to the greatest number of prospective buyers.

Copyright - Don Kanare - 2007 - All Rights Reserved