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Preparing Your House to Sell
Now that you’ve decided to sell, you should de-personalize and remove the emotion associated with your house and think of it as the marketable commodity that it is, real estate. You want potential buyers to easily visualize the house as their home.
This is where potential buyers get their first, and arguably most important impression. So, pretend you’re the buyer -- step out on the street in front of your house. How does it look? Take a look at your neighbors’ houses and landscaping -- how does your's compare? For selling purposes, it should look at least average in comparison. But here are some tips to spruce up the landscaping.
If your house appears to lack plantings in comparison with your neighbors, consider putting in a few bushes, annuals, and mature flowers. Don’t bother with trees since they are expensive (you will not recoup your investment) and are a long-term decision for the new buyer. Don’t bother with bulbs since they will not have time to develop. You want to add an immediate splash of color. Overgrown trees and shrubs should be pruned and dead or diseased plants should be removed or replaced
How does the entranceway into the front door from the driveway look? And how does it look around any doorway into the house? If it appears sparse, consider adding some potted and/or hanging plants along doors, stairs, edges of decks/patios/porches. Again, a splash of color, to frame and accentuate the entrances to the house, helps make for a very inviting impression. If you have potted and/or hanging plants, make sure to keep well watered.
How does the exterior painting of your house look? How does it compare with your neighbors? Does the paint look faded, cracked, or chipped? This is a major expenditure, we know. You might want to ask your friends, neighbors, and a real estate agent for their impartial opinion. If your conclusion is that it does indeed need painting, then consider neutral tones, not too different from your neighbors’ houses. Take comfort in that indeed some of your painting investment will be recouped, in that this first, fresh, clean impression to the buyer is very important.
Now, walk to the very back of your yard, how does it look? Try to remove “stuff,” and give it the appearance of being as spacious as possible. If you can’t remove things, then move them to the perimeter of your yard. If you have animals, be sure to remove any clutter from them as well. If you have a pool or spa, keep it cleaned and well maintained. Also, make sure you have all of the needed “pool-tools,” manuals, and warranties handy.
Now, go to the opposite perspective - at the back door of your house looking to the back of your yard. If you have a deck or patio, try to create the transition from the interior to the exterior. The deck or patio should feel like a natural extension to the back yard.
Inspect your roof. If you can’t do it, it’s worth a professional inspection. The buyer will be paying for one anyway, so it’s good not to have any surprises. If it leaks, repair it; it’s one less potentially contentious issue. If it doesn’t leak, then we suggest leaving it as is. Whatever the other potential repair issues, they can be negotiated after the buyer has a chance to understand the inspector’s report. After all, it will be the buyer who has to live with the repair conclusion.
Check the front and all entry-way doors. Do they open easily and are devoid of creaks? Do the keys for each door work well? This is especially important as your extra keys will be used by the real estate agents to let buyers into your house -- having your key not work or not work well makes for a bad first impression. Do the doors need painting? Are the windows clean around the door? Remove any personalization around the entry-ways, such as name plates. Also, consider new door mats.
At night, turn on all of your outdoor lighting - porch, lamppost, walkways, etc. Make sure all are functioning, straight, and clean. Some buyers will drive around, looking at the houses at night, so keep up the good impression even then.
Again, the main point is to depersonalize your house, increase the sense
of spaciousness, and make it look inviting, bright, and clean.