If you've done any research about selling a home (or watched more than 30 seconds of HGTV) you know all about curb appeal, painting, staging, depersonalizing, and other ways of getting your home ready to sell.
But when you're serious about selling your home, there are a few simple, and unusual (but effective) things you can do to maximize your home's showing condition. You'll need lots of boxes, some packing materials, and a self-storage space down the street (we recommend a POD).
Here are 5 things we suggest you do to put the "show" into your home's showings:
1. Remove 2 out of every 3 things on a surface: If you're like most people, you love to see your collectibles, photos, and nick-knacks. Unfortunately, "stuff" is distracting to buyers. Especially if they share a similar collection hobby. More often than not, buyers can't see past your belongings to see the house itself. The only way to fix this is to start packing. Since you're moving anyway, you might as well get started.
2. Create storage space: Buyers want to make sure that all of their stuff will fit into your home. Whether it's yard equipment, holiday decorations, or clothing, buyers need to know there is plenty of room for them to keep expanding. To create a sense of "extra" space, you want to clean out these areas without making them completely empty. For example, if you have a lot of holiday decor boxes, remove all but 3 or 4 boxes that are clearly labeled "holiday decorations." Arrange those in a neat stack. Do the same thing with "camping gear," "mementos," and so on. The impression you're creating is that you have plenty of room for all your belongings - and so will they. You will employ this technique in every storage space and closet in your home. Remove out of season clothing, reduce the number of pillow cases and sheet sets in your linen closet, reduce the number of kitchen appliances you have in your cabinets (as well as glass ware, dishes, and cooking utensils), and don't forget the garage!
3. Swap out light switches, electrical plate covers, HVAC registers, and light bulbs: While it may seem odd, replacing these items with new makes a difference. While subtle, by replacing these, you'll remove discolored (and dirty) covers and switches (especially the ones that are covered in paint), and create a sense of consistency from one room to the next. In any event, this is one of the easiest ways to "spiff-up" your home.
Why light bulbs? Over the years we tend to stick whatever light bulb we have into whatever fixture or lamp needs it. We'd wager a bet that if you were to walk into any room in your house that has multiple bulbs or lamps, they'd all be glowing with a different hue. Replace your bulbs with 40 to 60-watt soft white bulbs... it makes a difference! Besides if you're one of those people that have $60, programmable, blue-tooth light bulbs, you'll want them in your new home.
4. Give every room one purpose: Every room needs to have one easily identifiable use. For example, if you have a bedroom that is also a home office, make it one or the other. This may seem odd in that you're normally told "make sure the buyer knows that they could use this room for either a bedroom or a home office." In the real world, buyers react much differently. As a matter of fact, multiple use rooms tend to blur the room and sometimes just confuse the buyer. It's much better to have a room staged as a home office and allow the buyer to determine other uses for the space. Let the buyer "discover" what they want... a bedroom, a home office, a gift wrapping room, a pottery studio, or a space for their 13 cats.
The only thing worse than a room with multiple uses is a room with no uses. Make sure that every room in your home has a defined use. An extra closet (if large enough) can be a home office or a child's study room. A storage room in the basement could be used as a wine cellar. Get creative but be realistic!
5. Take it before the arguing begins: Have you ever wanted something only to be told you can't have it? Chances are you only wanted it more at that point! That's how we're wired - and how your buyer is wired as well. If there is something that you're not going to include in the sale, for whatever reason, it needs to be removed before the first buyer walks into your home. For example, if you just love grandma's chandelier in your dining room, take it down and replace it with one from a home improvement store (or one you found at a neighbor's garage sale). Not leaving the Washer & Dryer? Remove or replace them before your home hits the market. Remember those light bulbs?! Replace them.
Some agents suggest you leave those items in your home "to help it show better" and indicate somewhere on the listing or disclosure statement that it's not remaining. This is exactly what you don't want to do. The second a buyer sees something they want, they want it... and anything you do to prevent them from getting it means "you're being unreasonable" as the seller. Remember, buyers don't start by reviewing a list of things that don't stay with the home.
Of all the things on this list, this is probably the most important piece of advice you should take. If you don't want the fight, and don't want to lose something you want (for whatever reason), do the right thing and remove it before the buyer sees it.
While not on the list, it should go without saying (but we say it a lot), rule #1 is: Your home has to be clean. Not "clean." Clean! Every surface needs to be wiped with the appropriate cleanser, every wall that needs painting gets painted, every appliance gets a deep-clean, the carpets are professionally cleaned, the yard gets new mulch & plantings, and every odor gets eliminated (not covered up) - have a friend come over and give you an honest opinion on that issue!
Finally, if you're considering a move in the near future, there are things you may be considering that don't need to be done. So If you're planning a move in the next few years, or are curious about how well your home shows, invite one (or more) of us over... we're happy to help you make good decisions!