As many of you know when we moved into our Airstream on April 1st we also put our home on the market. The listing posted on April 4th 2016. By 6pm on April 5th we had 3 offers, including one for $11,000 over the asking price. Were we just lucky? I’d like to think that we stacked the deck in our favor by doing the following things to make our old home show as well as possible.
9 Ways to Make Your Home Show Well & Sell Quickly
- CLEAN. Now I hated this believe me. I kept the house generally clean but before we put it on the market we did the DEEPEST CLEAN I have ever done. We dusted and wiped down every surface and swept and mopped the floors (even under the beds). We cleaned the baseboards, the walls, the doors, the door handles, the counters, the cabinets, and anything else we could think of. I even cleaned the windows for the first time since moving in 5+ years ago. It sucked. But the house sparkled and the crystal clear windows reflected the view out back gorgeously. You don’t want a buyer to walk into the house and think about having to clean it. You want them to walk in and think about how they want to live there right now. Eventually they’ll come to the realization that they will have to clean it if they move in, but let that be after the house in under contract!
- Unclutter everything! This will make step 1 a lot easier too. Again you want the buyer to walk in and think about living there, or view your home as a luxury resort they’d want to stay in. You know what you don’t see in luxury resorts? Knick-knacks. So put all of that away. Our house looked almost bare by the time I was done uncluttering it. But while it seemed empty to us (who were used to a little more), to the buyer it seemed relaxing and simple.
- Pay attention to the details. We had done some upgrades to our home when Steve moved in, in 2014. Part of that upgrade was switching out the fixtures in the bathrooms from brass to nickel hardware. Then we stopped. Before we put the house on the market we knew we had to finish the job. For under $1000 we changed out all the brass in the house to nickel finishes. That money was well spent. One of the biggest thing people notice when viewing a house is anything dated (and brass is high on the list). They also notice when things aren’t finished. The two colors of fixtures would have been immediately noticeable and made the buyer think about the work they would have to do to finish it (rather than thinking about how much they’d love to live there). So notice the details because your buyer sure will.
- Unpersonalize. I goofed on this one and forgot to take down our family photo near the master bedroom, but we did get rid of all other photos or personal items in the house before putting it on the market. I feel like a broken record but we want the buyer to imagine themselves living in your home. That’s hard to do when staring at someone else’s kids and family.
- Highlight the Good (not the bad). We knew what was going to sell our house: the view and the backyard! We also knew what buyer’s wouldn’t like: the kitchen cabinets and counters. So we did everything we could to highlight the first by making sure the pool sparkled, there were no maintenance issues in the backyard, and that all the plants looked healthy and vibrant. We wanted the buyer to walk into the kitchen and immediately walk outside to see how gorgeous it was. We also tried to minimize the kitchen’s impact by clearing off all the counters (so they’re eyes wouldn’t be drawn to anything) and making sure everything was very clean. In general it’s best to do everything you can to direct the buyer’s attention in your favor.
- Smell. Smell your house. I’m serious! Smells effect us a lot more than we think. A house with a bad or weird smell is NOT a good thing. Meanwhile a heavily perfumed house is also NOT a good thing (as a super taster, heavy perfumes actually make me sick). So we made sure that while not smelling bad, the house was a pretty neutral scent. We had candles spread around and open which allowed some scent to permeate the air, but by not burning them it was not overpowering. We also chose clean scents rather than sweet scents given the time of year and the feeling we wanted the house to convey.
- Time it right. Speaking of time of year, we completely changed our plans in order to list the house at the ideal time. While this might not be feasible for everyone it can make a big difference in your bottom line. In Arizona one of the major buyers are the snowbirds who come down from up north in October/November thru April/May. We knew our house would be very appealing to a snowbird couple and so we moved up our plans. Instead of staying in the house until November/December and then moving into the Airstream, we decided to push our move up to April 1st. For people in other areas, summer is a great time to list, because families want to move between school sessions. The timing of placing your house on the market is something to consider when trying to get the best return.
- Take good pictures! This should be obvious but it’s amazing how many homes are listed with awful pictures. This is the first impression to many buyers and you want it to be amazing! While they may not remember every detail from when they actually viewed the home in person, you can be sure that they are studying every detail of the pictures online when trying to make their decisions. So please, PLEASE make sure that your house is as perfect as possible when the pictures are taken.
- Remember it’s not your home any longer. The general theme behind most of these tips and tricks is that we want the buyer to imagine living in your home. So you need to make the house into THEIR home and not your own. This is hard when you are still living there because we like having the things we love around us. So imagine for these weeks where you are living in the home that is no longer your own, that YOU are living in a resort. Unfortunately we still have all the chores and to-dos of normal life but if we were spending 3 weeks on the beach somewhere we wouldn’t need that family photo next to our bed, or our stuffed dog from childhood on the living room sofa.
So those are my top tips and tricks on how to prepare your house to sell quickly and *hopefully* for more than you are asking for it. It worked for us! I hope this helps you the next time you are thinking of putting your house up on the market.
What have you done in the past to help sell your home? What as buyer drew you to the home you bought?