Prepare Your House for a Successful Sale
By Amie Walton
you list with an agent or sell on your own, you can ensure a quick
sale by proactively preparing your house to be a highly marketable
and attractive commodity.
Don’t wait for the sold sign to get started with packing.
Packing away items that are used infrequently has multiple benefits:
It’s a head start for you when you do have the house sold;
It removes the clutter that might impact negatively on prospective
buyers; and It creates a more spacious atmosphere making rooms
To determine what improvements should be tackled first, view your
house as though you were the buyer. If you have a difficult time
with objectivity, ask a friend, neighbour or relative to help.
Begin with driving or walking on your street. Does your house
stand out as less attractive than those around it? Does your landscaping
match up? If not:
Make sure your lawn is well trimmed and free of any bald or brown
spots. Plant mature bushes and flowers to add volume and colour.
Avoid any plants or trees that will take time to mature. You are
going for immediate appeal, over long-term results. Clear away
any lawn furniture that mainly provided function over aesthetic
appeal (i.e. resin chairs). Clear away the kids bikes and toys
from the lawn and driveway. The path from your curb to the door
should be unobstructed and clean. Rent a power washer and clean
the walkway, if needed. Tighten any loose banisters or steps that
lead to your door. If you have personalized items on the door
and mailbox remove them. Add a clean mat at the door (this is
a purchase that can be taken with you when you move). If your
doorknob, street number, mailbox, or light fixtures are dull or
rusty, polish or replace them. Clean Doors and windows at the
made it past the curb and are in the door. When you enter the
house, the first thing that will grab you is not going to be visual.
If your house does not have a pleasant odor, it probably won’t
matter how beautiful it is visually.
Avoid sprays that cover up odor. Although it is better than an
initial unpleasant scent, Buyers will pick up on it and feel tricked.
Instead, try ‘lightly’ scented candles, potpourri,
or a pot on the stove with vanilla and water. If you are very
ambitious, bake a pie. Remove odor at the source:
Smoke - For those who have smokers in the family, it
would be wise to restrict smoking to outdoors until the house
sells. Purchase an ozone spray which eliminates odor rather than
covering it up.
– Clean kitty litter daily and add baking soda. Keep dogs
outdoors as much as possible and make use of carpet freshener
on a frequent basis.
Cooking – Use the overhead exhaust while cooking and
clean up immediately after you are finished. Lingering food odors
are not noticeable while you are in the house but are very apparent
when stepping in from outdoors.
The most expensive renovations are the kitchen and bathroom. If
these rooms are not appealing to a Buyer, it might be very difficult
to sell your property’s other assets.
Kitchen and Bathroom
Counter tops - Keep them cleared of all clutter. In the
kitchen, put away all counter top utensils such as toasters, coffee
pots, etc. If you have a microwave on your counter, consider purchasing
an inexpensive microwave cart instead. Bathroom counters should
be cleared of hair products, hair dryers, electric shavers, etc.
Loose trim on counters should be glued. If your counters are in
need of replacement, consider replacing or painting with a melamine
Cupboards and Drawers - Clean the cupboard and door fronts
with a grease cutting cleaner. You will be surprised at how much
brighter they will appear afterwards. If that doesn’t help
brighten them up, you should seriously consider painting with
melamine paint as an inexpensive update. Replace outdated cupboard
hardware for an instant updated appeal. For an inexpensive alternative
to replacing hardware, spray paint with a metallic finish. Clear
out as much clutter as you can live without. You want your cupboards
to appear as though there is more than enough room for the Buyers
to store their items.
Sinks and Bathtubs - You can bring your stainless steel
sink back to its original shine, with comet cleanser. Be sure
to pay close attention to the drain, drain plugs, and outer edges,
where grime builds up. Taps and faucets can be brought back to
original shine with the use of a dry cloth and q-tips. Simply
polish with the dry cloth to remove dullness and add shine. Q-tips
in between cracks and tap grooves will remove the ‘gunk’
and have your taps looking brand new. If your faucet and taps
are hopeless, you should replace with a set of inexpensive ones.
Kitchen Appliances - Whether or not the appliances are
included, they need to be presentable to add to the appeal of
the kitchen. Clean the oven and stove to a shine. This will also
take care of some possible odor sources as well. Remove the magnets,
notes, and artwork from the fridge and clean the top.
is a common fact that people tend to look down more than up. If
your kitchen or bathroom floor is in need of repair, repair it.
If the floor is beyond repair, this might be the best investment
to consider in making your house more sellable. Remember, if you
are going to invest in a new floor for resale value only, purchase
inexpensive neutral flooring. You are making the purchase for
immediate appeal to buyers and not for yourself.
The most lived in room tends to be the most cluttered. If the
room appears small, remove extra furniture and all clutter items
such as papers, remotes, videos, etc.
If you have a lot of personalized items, such as family portraits,
trophy’s, collectibles, pack them away. Personalized items
tend to alienate potential buyers.
the beds and remove clutter from under the bed. As with the kitchen
cupboards, clear out the clutter so they appear larger. If you
have teens or themed rooms, replace bedding and curtains with
a more neutral alternative. Patterned bedding will detract from
buyers viewing the room and its features. Take down any posters
that may be on the walls. Fill holes left behind or hang framed
artwork in their place.
if you have converted any rooms in your house, you should convert
them back to the house’s original design. For example, a
bedroom converted to a den or home office should be changed back
to a bedroom, especially if it is one of the rooms that you have
included in your listing as 3 bedroom home.
decision as to the amount of improvements you are willing or able
to make will always be your own and there is definitely quite
a bit of effort involved with implementing some of the suggestions
above. It would make sense to think that buyers should look beyond
the personal items that will be removed after a sale and, although
there are some buyers who will be able to do that, most buyers
won't. The suggestions made above are for ensuring a quick sale
by targeting the majority of buyers rather than those rare ones
that can see beyond these items.
February, 2004 - XstreamRealty Incorporated
Amie Walton is the president and founder of Xstream Realty Incorporated,
a Virtual Agent online real estate service. She has retained her
ASP designation in Home Staging and is managing both XstreamRealty.com
as complementary businesses for assisting homeowners to sell their
homes quickly and profitably.