by Shelley Lindauer, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Keller Williams NYC Realty
Your home may well be the most valuable asset you own. You want to sell it quickly and for top dollar. When you are getting ready to put your home on the market, approach the sale as a business transaction – you need to give the potential buyers what they want, much as you would with any product. The goal is to make those buyers see the property as their home, not yours. In the end, you will get a better price and sell far more quickly.
How do you go about doing this? There are several steps that you can take which will make your property as desirable as possible, both for agents who want to show strong properties to their clients, and to the buyers they bring.
De-personalize Your Home
Yes, you like to look at those photos of your children and your wedding picture, and you’ll do so in your new home. Keeping a couple of framed pictures is fine, but if there is a family photo wall, take it down. For now, you have to believe that the property you’re selling is no longer yours – it belongs to one of those buyers who will come to view your home. Any personal photos, artwork, or family treasures should be removed and stored for your new home. You’ll be way ahead when the time comes to move!
De-clutter Your Home
Secondly, de-clutter every room in your home. Go through each room with as though you are the buyer looking critically at a possible purchase. Is there clutter that has piled up over the years? Piles of books, magazine, clothes on a rack, extraneous furniture, shoes on the floor, toys – sort them, pack away what you’ll take with you, and throw or give the rest away. It’s a good idea to do this with your closets as well. Pare down clothes and outerwear that you haven’t worn in more than a year and give to charity. Your home will appear bigger and buyers won’t think you don’t have enough storage. Again, you’ll have less to pack and move to your new home.
Clean your home thoroughly and make any necessary repairs. Wash your windows to let in light; Dust the baseboards, blinds, light fixtures, chandeliers and furniture. Vacuum and mop the carpets and floors. Scrub the bathrooms and kitchen. Make sure your home is spotlessly clean all the while it is on the market; if you’re not able to keep up with the cleaning, hire a service to do it. Have fresh towels in the bathroom and have beds dressed every time a prospect visits the home. Is there a leaky faucet, a toilet that runs when it flushes, or an air conditioner that doesn’t work? Have all repairs done before a buyer has the chance to use those issues as a bargaining tool.
Keep Things Hidden
In the kitchen, clear off counters and store appliances you don’t regularly use. Open your cabinets and if they’re not already organized, do it now. Buyers will open your cabinets and closets! In the bathroom, de-clutter counters. Move medicines that are in your medicine cabinet into a dresser drawer (which won’t be opened!) Over the counter medicines that cause an uncomfortable reaction should also be hidden –laxatives, Preparation-H, athlete’s foot lotion, etc. Don’t leave the toilet bowl brush or a plunger out and visible to buyers. Once again, keep fresh towels and a clean soap dish out during showings.
Use a Critical Eye
Take a long, critical look at your home – remember to look as though you’re the prospective buyer. Do the walls need to be painted? Is there too much furniture or furniture positioned so that it blocks access to a doorway or closet? Is your sofa shabby and threadbare? Each of these items can be handled in a cost-effective way. You can paint yourself or look for a handy-man on Craigslist. If there’s too much furniture, pare it down to increase the feeling of space in your rooms. Worn furniture should be replaced with pieces for your new home, items bought online, or even some inexpensive furniture from Ikea. If those options don’t work for you, a slipcover will improve the look of the furniture you have. Keep fresh flowers in one or two appropriate spots around the house as well.
Listen to Your Agent’s Opinion
Finally, do a walk through with your real estate agent and ask for his/her honest opinion. Are there still details that need to be improved, changed, or remedied? Does the value of your property and your furnishings dictate that a professional staging is in order? Listen to the advice of your agent to maximize the ease with which your home can sell, and for the highest price. There’s a lot of competition – you want your home to be the one that buyers want.