When it’s time to put your house on the market, you’ll want to prepare. After all, the way you live every day in your house is much different than marketing a home for sale. (There’s nothing wrong with that, either! Day to day, we don’t need to be focused on maintaining a spotless house – there’s just not enough time for that!)
But how far do you go? You can’t do everything, right? While you may need to pick and choose your projects, I can tell you that everything counts! Clean the top of the refrigerator? Yes. The paint spills on the trim boards? Buyers will notice. Sweep the front steps and clean the leaves out of the window wells? Definitely.
Here’s the truth – buyers will notice everything. In fact, they’re looking for stuff like that. Perception is reality to them, and they’re looking for clues. If they see enough ‘little things’ that aren’t done, they assume there are bigger things that also haven’t been done. Fair or unfair, that’s how they think – and if they see enough little things, you won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Here are some easy and basic things you can do when you’re preparing your home:
- Let the light in. If you’ve got heavy curtains or shades, you might consider taking them down, or putting up something lighter.
- Turn the lights on. Even with plenty of sunlight streaming in, let the buyers see the house. Consider using timers for evening showings when it might be darker.
- Clean off the fridge. Yes, dust the top, but also take down grocery lists, wedding invitations, homework, pictures, and everything else. Wipe down the inside, too.
- Sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets.
- Clean the kitchen. The kitchen is usually going to make or break the sale, so make sure it’s clean! The counters should be wiped off, and the sink and faucet should really shine. No dishes in the sink, and only necessary items on the counters (2 or 3 at most!)
- Close the toilet seats.
- Clean the bathrooms. Don’t forget to wipe the mirrors. Toothbrushes/toothpaste and shaving items should all be stowed out of sight, too.
- Clean the windows. This is especially true if you’ve got older windows – you may not replace them, but they must be clean.
- Make the beds. Put laundry away. Toys should be organized and put away.
- Pets should be gone, but if that absolutely can’t happen, they need to be kenneled.
Pretty basic, I know, but you’d be surprised how often some of these items are neglected. And they do matter – remember, buyers are looking at this stuff, and all of it forms their overall impression of the house. Too many marks on their mental checklist, and they’re on to the next house.
The good news is that you can take care of that entire list for no cost! Sometimes, though, the house may require you to spend some money to get it ready. That’s another article for another day!