You can’t possibly do everything to make your house like new before putting it on the market, short of gutting it, but there’s a minimum level that buyers will expect. What and how much you are willing to do has a direct effect on the overall success of the sales process. But how much is too much and what is too little?
There are always little projects that you meant to get to and didn’t, and things that probably weren’t perfect, but didn’t bother you enough to fix. How many of those things are left on your “to do” list? This is the mindset you have to take when you are getting ready to sell your home.
Once you make that decision to list your home, you will want your Realtor to do a quick walk-through with you. They can give you a punch list of items they think should be updated, fixed or addressed in some other way before you sell your home. Your house needs to be ready to go from the moment you put it on the market.
Now I’m not talking about gutting and completely remodeling your home, you need to simply change your focus from the owner to someone who would want to buy it. You absolutely need to make sure everything is in proper working order and ready for your buyer. That can be a lot to wrap your head around, though. If you get overwhelmed, start with the list below.
Entry / Living Room
For most homes, the living room and foyer are a combo unit, but if yours are separate understand that this same advice applies to both. The moment that door opens, and even before it does, your potential buyers are forming an opinion of your home. What the open door reveals had better pack a punch (or at least not terrify them).
Make sure that the windows are very clean to let in as much light as possible, that all your light bulbs are in good working order, the flooring is clean and in good shape, any tile grout is intact and the walls are flawless. A neutral color is always a good idea, if you have a bright orange kids room, you may want to rethink that.
Your dining room should follow the same advice as your living room, with one exception. Since there’s probably some amount of eating that happens in this part of the house, you’ll want to check the flooring to ensure there’s no staining or spots under the table.
This is a particular problem if there’s carpet. Do not attempt to cover spots with a rug, this could be considered a “hidden, latent defect.” Basically, it means that you’re hiding damage from a potential buyer. That’s a big fat no go.
Instead, call a professional carpet cleaner or just own it and be prepared if the buyer asks for the carpet to be replaced or cleaned before closing.
The list of things in your kitchen can be long, but overlooking this main room in the house could cost you the sale.
Check all the items on this list, one at a time:
Appliances that stay with the home
• Are they fully functional?
• Do they have an attractive appearance?
• Do they match one another?
• Are they clean?
Kitchen sink area:
• Is the sink free of damage?
• Does it drain well?
• Does the disposal work?
• Does the sprayer work?
• Is the faucet leaking?
Counters, backsplash and cabinets:
• Do the counters have worn or burned spots?
• Are there grouted areas that are needing regrouted?
• Do the cabinet doors open and close properly?
• Is there water damage anywhere?
• Is everything clean and not tacky to touch?
• Do the cabinets have worn finish?
Bedrooms are by far the hardest, especially if you have kids. If you’re going to have to live in the house until you find a buyer, invest in some storage systems — they’ll pay off in the long run. Organize everything as best you can to give the rooms the appearance of more space, clean the windows, install the lightbulbs, clean the carpets and instruct everyone to keep it tidy. If anything can be moved out to a storage unit, do it.
Bathrooms are much like kitchens, they have a lot of wet, moving parts. That being said, they also have basically the same punch list. The only addition would be the shower or tub units. Check the faucets and showerheads for leakage and make sure there’s no mold on your tub or shower surrounds. Clean that stuff within an inch of its life and if you can’t get rid of the stains, recaulk. It’s an easy way to make that tub or shower look like you’ve never even used it.
Make sure your door opener is functioning properly, that the wheels on the door are lubricated. You don’t want it making a terrible sound when you open it or close it. If you don’t really use your garage, you can dress it up a lot by applying an epoxy coating to the floor. The DIY kits run around $100 and, although they don’t add any value to your home, they’re far more impressive than an old, stained concrete floor. Most importantly, make sure the garage is clean and organized.
Overall, it’ll help a lot if you run around your house and make sure that all your lightbulbs are fresh, all the windows are cleaned, you remember to leave the blinds open during the day and that the paint makes each room feel bigger. The key is to bring in more light and then use lighter colors to keep it bouncing around the room. A new coat of white ceiling paint won’t hurt your efforts, either.
Paint is great for a lot of reasons. It can seal in smells you might have never noticed, as well as giving the house the scent of fresh construction. That smell paints a picture for a buyer that says this house has been taken care of and they can trust that it’s in great shape!
When it comes to the great outdoors, keep your lawn mowed, trim your hedges, clean up any projects that you started and never finished. Landscapers, trash haulers and metal scrappers can help a lot with these tasks. You’ll also want to check out your roof and gutters to make sure they’re in good shape because your potential buyers will be doing the same thing.
The first thing a buyer sees is the view from the street, make sure you run out there during the outdoor prep work to check your look. When you start to wonder if you should actually sell this amazing house at all, you’ve probably got the curb appeal knocked out.
When You Can’t Get It All Done
You don’t have an unlimited timeline, that’s completely understandable, but your home should be ready to sell if you want to get top dollar. If you can’t do the work, just call on someone who can.