It’s easy to forget about all the bulbs that have burned out over the years, but you want your home to be as bright as possible. Lighting makes an incredible difference in how a home looks to potential Buyers.
Buyers and agents are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now: utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, survey and rental contracts.
A big part of the adventure you’re about to embark on involves reducing clutter. Many local grocery stores will give away boxes if you ask.
If you’re going to be moving a lot of stuff out of your house for the sale you might want to consider renting a storage locker.
Prospective Buyers and their agents will need to access your home, so you’ll need an extra set of keys. It’s worth it not to have to open the lockbox every time you want to come home.
Remove all the toiletries you have on display (nobody wants to know you use Head & Shoulders). Invest in some new white towels (and no, you don’t get to use them). Find some affordable accessories: soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc. If your toilet seat, shower curtain or bath matt are gross (be honest with yourself), replace them. Consider replacing the toilet paper holder and towel rack/hooks too.
The kitchen is one of the rooms Buyers are most attracted to so if you’re looking to skip a room, this shouldn’t be it. Remove your blender/George Foreman Grill/Kitchen Aid mixer/toaster/bread machine from the counters – you want the counters to be as clear as possible. Clean inside all the cupboards (and yes, I mean remove everything and wipe them out). Don’t cram all your dishes and food back in – again, you want to convey to Buyers that your kitchen has enough storage for the Buyer’s stuff. Clean inside the fridge (and remove the magnets, photos and reminders). Turn on your self-cleaning oven (probably for the first time). Store your booze collection (and take out the empties). Consider investing in some fresh flowers and a beautiful bowl with some fresh fruit in it.
The bedrooms should be inviting, and that means more cleaning and decluttering and investing in a few props. If you don’t already have one, invest in a neutral-coloured duvet cover and some new fancy pillows. Straighten the bookshelves. Remove personal photos, knick-knacks and personal grooming products. Clean out the closets. Consider getting an area rug if the floors are cold. If you’ve jammed in a dresser or armoire that doesn’t really fit into the space, consider storing it offsite. If you’ve converted two of your three bedrooms into offices, convert at least one of them back to a bedroom.
Clean the sofa and chairs and invest in some new throw pillows. Consider getting an area rug to bring the room together. Hide the magazine rack and all the clutter that has accumulated. Hide the wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.
Remove the kids’ homework and the piles of stuff that have accumulated on the dining room table. Clean up the hutch. If your dining chairs have seen better days, consider getting them reupholstered. Invest in a new tablecloth to hide an old table.
This is probably going to take more than one day. Whether your basement is finished or just a storage area for extra crap, you’ll need to invest the time to make it look as spacious and clean as possible. And what a great way to rid yourself of all that stuff you never use.
Much as I’d love to say that you can cram all the stuff you don’t want on display into your closets, Buyers will open your closets. They’ll look in your cupboards. The last thing you want is for Buyers to think there isn’t enough storage in your home, so take the time to pack away what you don’t need in the immediate future.
It’s a pain (and expensive) to store all the stuff you don’t really need. Consider what you want to keep and then Donate and Throw away the rest.
Remember that most Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it, so what they experience at the entrance is critical. You want your entrance to be clean, de-cluttered and inviting. And no, you won’t really wear all your shoes and coats while your house or condo is for sale, so be disciplined and store things away. If you don’t have a hall closet, don’t pile 15 coats on a coat rack – that’s just drawing attention to your lack of a closet.
You want your house or condo to appeal to as many Buyers as possible, and that will only happen if they can picture their own stuff in your house. Get rid of all or most of the family photos, the collections and the souvenirs from your trip to Asia. Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a Buyer. If what you see helps people get to know you as you, consider removing it.
If you haven’t already hired someone, today is the day. A REALTOR will likely need one to two weeks to schedule and prepare the marketing. An experienced listing agent will also guide you through the home preparation and staging process, so you don’t have to do it alone
Day 16: Paint Touch-ups and Re-painting
A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home. Bold colours are bound to be a turn-off to some Buyers, so to appeal to the most people possible take the time to re-paint that red bedroom and blue bathroom. (Tip: light colours will help small rooms look bigger). Don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings – they might need some paint too.
We all have that list of never-never repairs and fixes. Now’s the time to get to it, including fixing the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc. and get it done once and for all. If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a handyman to take care of it (we know some good ones, we can help).
I know, you probably don’t even think about cleaning your windows, but rain, snow and construction can really make your windows dirty.
Curb appeal matters and will significantly impact people’s first impression of your house. Stand on your street and take in your front yard: what do you see? At a minimum, clean the scuff marks off the front door and touch-up the chipped paint or give it a fresh coat. And if your front door has seen better days, consider investing in a new one. If you have a front porch, make it look inviting. Invest in some seasonal plants. Clean up the garden. Buyers may see your home at night, so make sure that your outdoor lighting is showing off your home.
What you can accomplish in the back yard will, of course, depend on what time of year you sell. If you’re selling in the spring/summer: clean up the gardens, trim the trees, cut the grass, stain the deck and clean the patio furniture and BBQ. If it’s winter: do your best to make it look presentable. If you have a garage: tidy it up and fix any peeling paint and the sagging roof.
Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them steam cleaned (or do it yourself). You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
You’ll need more than a Swiffer to get into all the corners and cracks. If your floors are scratched, there are some great products out there to make them look almost-brand-new.
If your walls and doors are scuffed, buy some Magic Erasers and go to town. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. If your art needs an update, now’s the time to do it too.
By now you’re probably exhausted. While you can do this final step yourself, we always like to recommend using professional cleaners who will make sure to clean all the spots you don’t: the baseboards, inside the lights, the fridge, etc.
No Buyer wants to look at all your kids’ toys, finger painting works of art or dirty diapers, so put it all away and make a plan to keep it concealed. I love my dogs too, but prospective Buyers won’t appreciate the barking/jumping/submissive peeing. Make a plan to get your pets out of the house: Doggie daycare? Grandma and Grandpa? Multiple walks
Some people use a professional Stager. If you choose this option they will come and stage the house. They’ll move, re-arrange and add furniture and use accessories and colour to make your home look it’s best. Talk to your Realtor to see if you think this is something that they would recommend for your home.
Day 27: Make Your Home Smell Good
If you’re a dog owner, wash any couches, beds and surfaces where the dogs sleep. You may not smell him anymore, but Buyers will. Tuck the litter box away (and clean it twice a day while your home is on the market). Consider lighting some candles (but avoid strong air fresheners).
When your house or condo is de-cluttered, cleaned and ready for prime time, it’s time for the Realtor/photographer to work their magic. This will happen a few days before you list your home for sale, and may include a virtual tour or video.
You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time to step back and admire your work. How does it look? Do you see anything that might distract or turn off a Buyer? Take one final walk through all the rooms and adjust as necessary.
Now…Don’t. Touch. Anything. Back away slowly… et voila!
It is important to remember that you are only human. Just do your best and what you are able to do and then let go. Your Realtor has it from here.