My family and I are in the process of buying and selling a home. This will be the third home we’ve purchased. In our search for our next home, we’ve toured many homes on the market. Having gone through this process a few times, we’ve learned a thing or two. Through our talks with various realtors, our many (many!) home tours, and our experiences selling our homes, we’ve stumbled upon a few easy things you can do to help your home sell.
1. Keep it Clean
Do a quick 30 minute clean prior to having a showing. Make sure you do a 10 minute tidy each night before you go to sleep, so the house is manageable in the morning. A clean home will show INFINITELY better than a messy home – and boy, have we seen some DIRTY homes for sale. (Not just cluttered – but I’m talking about dirty underwear on the entry table, beer and soda cans all over the floor, “business” in the toilet” kind of dirty.) Here are the chores you should make sure are done prior to a showing:
- Make the beds
- Wipe down counters
- Load the dishwasher (aka – no dishes in the sink!)
- All obvious piles/clutter taken care of
If you have time, wipe down your bathrooms, including the mirror, counter, and the area around the toilet.
A home for sale is a great time to start getting your kids more involved in chores as well. This is a great time to implement the “one toy at a time” rule and to enforce that the children are responsible for picking up all toys.
2. Do You Need It?
If you can live without it for a few months, pack it up. Scale back on as much furniture, decorations, counter-top appliances, toys, etc as possible when trying to sell your home. It is amazing how much bigger, cleaner, and more marketable your home will look simply by storing a few pieces of furniture and unnecessary items.
We’ve gone to look at a few homes that seem more like furniture stores than family homes, simply due to the amount of STUFF in their house!
Buyers want to visualize living in your space. It’s hard to picture how you’ll function when the home feels cramped, over-crowded, and full. If you can live without it, pack it up, or store it out of sight.
Nobody wants to live in a messy and cluttered house. When potential buyers walk through the door you want them to think, “This would be a great place to live”, not “these people should get a maid.”
Intellectually, people know that your mess will go with you – but it is VERY hard to imagine having dinner in your new dining room when the table is covered with papers and clutter. If you can’t remove some furniture and you can’t keep the house clean, make EVERY effort to keep the clutter to a minimum.
*The first three tips alone will make a HUGE difference! It is amazing how much better a clean and tidy home shows. People can visualize living in a clean home that is free from excess furniture and decorations. Buyers want to picture THEIR items in the home, and struggle to do that when your home is over-crowded or messy.
4. What’s That Smell?
Do you ever notice that some people’s homes have a smell? Yours does too. We get used to the smell of our home, so that we don’t notice it anymore. However, potential buyers may not love the smell of curry and garlic, litter boxes, trashcans full of diapers, cleaners with a strong chemical smell, or floral perfume. A negative smell can definitely influence a buyer.
We toured a home that was pretty nice – but we could not get over the intense animal smell. Likewise, we had potential buyers say they got a headache from our Scentsy. People are VERY sensitive to smells – especially strong smells. Here are a few “smell” tips:
- Steer clear of meals with strong odors when you know you will be having a showing. Fish, garlic, strong spices, etc can wait.
- Empty your trashcans!
- If you have indoor pets, clean up after them. Empty the litter box. Vacuum up pet hair. Stash the pet bed in the garage. Clean the cage.
- When choosing a scent for your diffuser, wax warmer, etc – choose something LIGHT. (And yes, that means no more “Blackberry Cobbler” scentsy for me!)
5. Leave a Treat
My husband and I started doing this, and it always gets a very positive reaction. When food is involved, people gather – they feel at home. When our home gets ready to go on the market, I buy a box of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough balls from Costco. When we get a call for a showing, I just pop half a dozen in the oven. A small plate of cookies, and mugs and K-cups let our “guests” know that they are welcome to take their time and stay awhile. I want the buyers to sit and have a cup of coffee and a cookie at our dining room table. More time in our home means more time for them to visualize living in our home.
A gimmick like fresh-baked cookies may also help your house stand out. If you’ve ever looked for a home, you know that often you see 5-10 homes in the same afternoon. This way, when the couple discusses the houses they saw that day, they’ll remember the “cookie house.”
6. Where is Fido?
Let me tell you, nothing shuts down a home tour faster than opening a door to have an angry dog rush out at you. (And this has happened more than once!)
If you have a pet, and cannot take it with you, inform the realtor who will be showing the house WHERE the animal is. Even if your animal is in a cage, it is best to disclose the animal’s presence. While you may love ferrets, snakes, or mice, potential buyers may not. If you forget to tell the realtor, leave a note. People WILL open all the doors and look in every bedroom and the garage. They probably don’t want to be attacked or taken by surprise. Disclose that you have animals and make sure to let someone know where they will be.
It may not be financially possible for you to neutralize every room in your home. However, potential buyers are most attracted to “move-in ready” homes. People don’t want to have to paint every room right away if possible.
You may love the colors, patterns, and decorating choices you’ve made. However, potential buyers will have a difficult time looking past things like bold or bright paint colors, wallpaper, and other decorating techniques like sponge painting, decoupage, stenciling, and large wall decals. If you can afford the cost and/or the time, neutralize a few rooms in your house. Many buyers will walk away from a house that meets their needs simply due to paint and/or decor.
We personally opted to leave the kids rooms colorful, but chose to paint over the brown and turquoise striping in our bedroom. While we loved the stripes, we recognized that buyers may not have been able to see past them.
8. Open the Windows
People are attracted to light. The last thing you want is for your house to seem dark and dismal. Open the curtains or blinds and let as much natural light in as you can. This is a super easy way to make your house seem more appealing!
9. Out on the Front Porch
You know what they say about first impressions….it’s true with homes too! People will start to judge your home and if they want to live there from the second they pull in the driveway. Does your home have curb appeal? Here are a few first impression tips:
- Stand at the end of your driveway. What catches your eye first? What do you see that is unattractive? See your home from a buyer’s perspective.
- Mow the yard.
- Pick up any bikes or toys
- (When the timing is right…) Plant flowers! A nice pop of color can be so inviting
- Fresh welcome mat
- Sweep your front porch
- Consider painting your front door
- Pull weeds, rake up leaves, pick up stray branches, etc.
10. Go Away!
We have arrived for home tours several times when the owner is still present. It’s pretty awkward. If you’ve ever gone to look at a house, you know that you “nit-pick” as you walk through. You complain about the bathroom tile and talk about how the first thing you’d do is paint over the powder blue in the kitchen. It’s pretty hard to be honest about a home when the owner is standing there.
When the owner is home, a buyer will also feel rushed. You don’t want buyers to rush through your home – you want them to take their time and visualize living there. So leave! (And don’t just sit in your car – that’s awkward too!) Try to be gone 15 minutes before the scheduled show time, and allow for at least an hour. (You can always do a “drive by” to see if people are still there!)
Find places to go during a showing. My kids love when our house is on the market because they know it means lots of time at the park!
If you are currently selling your home or looking for a new home, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you find exactly what you are looking for.
*These are solely my opinions. I am not a real estate professional.