Preparing Your House To Sell
Preparing your house to sell is a great time to prepare yourself to move into another phase of your life. All the memories that come rushing back as you pack the scrapbooks, hobbies, photos and stuffed toys can be bittersweet.
But, selling a house is also a time to focus on the financial aspects of the transaction. Your house becomes "inventory" along with all the other houses for sale. Your house must compete with all the other houses that buyers are considering when they make a decision. People going to Open Houses on Sunday are no different from shoppers going to the mall as they search for the perfect "product".
With that in mind, it is important to make your house appealing to buyers. There are two aspects to achieving that "appeal." First is the emotional appeal - the "I'd love to live here!"
The other is the practical appeal - the "How good a shape is this place in?" Sometimes one buyer responds emotionally and the other practically; in other cases, both respond emotionally at first and then begin looking at the practical issues as they sit down to make an offer.
We need to make sure that your house wins on both counts! Some features cannot be changed; in that case, the pricing of the house must be such that people still will consider it.
Overall, what you are trying to achieve is to make the house have the following characteristics to give the impression of Pride of Ownership. Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression!
Exterior first impressions
Many people who now have internet access and many realtors who see many houses a week, simply "drive-by" to see whether they want to take their time to actually go in. This is very unfair to both the house and the seller, but, it is a fact. You must make sure that they like what they see when they take the first look. Is everything tidy, painted, trimmed?
_____ Mail box upright with numbers readable.
_____ Driveway/Entry Area tidy with gravel replaced, if needed, landscaping trimmed.
_____ Structures, if any. Removed if possible, or painted, cared for.
_____ Gates/Security Screens. Latches that work, washed down, repainted
_____ Landscaping. Trimmed. All dead parts removed. Gravel or ground cover fresh.
_____ Steps. Patched, painted/refinished.
_____ Handrail smooth, painted/ refinished.
_____ Front door/doorstep clean/refinished
Interior First Impressions
Is it neat, tidy, fresh, clean, shiny, uncluttered, well-cared for? Can I just "move-in" or am I looking at lots of problems and high costs to fix them?
_____ Windows washed.
_____ Carpets cleaned
_____ Floor tile cleaned and shined . Grout repaired.
_____ Wood trim/doors painted or cleaned; any gashes or missing pieces repaired
_____ Walls painted or touched up
_____ Cracks in walls and ceilings patched and painted (if the problem has been corrected. If
not, correct the problem, i.e. if there is a leak, fix it.)
_____ Handrails clean, smooth, refinished/painted.
_____ Sliding doors repaired (rollers replaced) so that they slide easily
_____ Hinges oiled so doors open easily
_____ Latches on doors, gates, oiled so they move easily
_____ Steps patched/repaired and painted or carpeted.
_____ Cabinet doors/shelving, polished with a clean/shine product
_____ Light bulbs working in rooms and closets
_____ Blinds dusted. On windows that face views, pull up or leave open for showing
_____ Closets neat, floors vacuumed.
_____ All clutter (boxes, old magazines, excessive knickknacks, lots of notes on fridge or
bulletin board) removed. Allow people to focus on the house, not on all your
_____ All surfaces and items cleaned/dusted/shined.
_____ All sources of odor removed. (Old paint cans, old dog blankets or baskets, musty
books, bedding in seldom used rooms, etc.)
_____ Items that would not be ordinarily in use in a certain type of room should be removed.
(If a bedroom has been used as a hobby space, remove any thing that would prevent
a buyer from seeing this as a "bedroom.")
Living Room, Great Room, Family Room
_____ All overstuffed furniture vacuumed and/or cleaned.
_____ All tables cleared off and polished.
_____ All lampshades repaired (or remove the lamp from the room)
_____ Fireplace area washed down. Any stacked wood removed.
_____ Virtually all items removed from surfaces except toaster, canister sets, an item or two
_____ Counter tops, sinks/showers scrubbed, resurfaced if possible.
_____ Cook top cleaned. If aluminum trays under burners, replace with new ones.
_____ All faucet leaks fixed .
_____ All faucets shined. If in terrible shape, consider replacing.
_____ Replace torn shower curtains, even with just a fresh liner.
_____ Wash all mirrors/ glass panels in doors.
_____ Remove beat up trash cans or laundry hampers.
Pool area/back or side yards
_____ Pool as clean as possible. Consider having it professionally cleaned. Repair
the filter system, treat the water. Must look inviting enough to "jump in."
_____ Decking/patios repaired/refinished.
_____ Foundation areas that are cracked or peeling painted . Repair first if a problem exists.
_____ Ceiling of patio roof washed down/repainted.
_____ Patio surfaces washed down/ major stains removed. Uneven surfaces addressed
_____ Landscaping trimmed/tidied. Dead plants/limbs taken out. Get all plants, tree limbs
as far away from house as possible.
_____ Leaking hose bibs repaired.
_____ Weathered awnings, patio furniture, removed.
_____ Trash, debris, anything unsightly removed.
_____ Fences, structures repaired/painted or removed (if not required by code).
_____ Roof checked. If it needs repair, consider having it done before the inspection.
(Note the warranty on your SPDS*, especially if an older home.)
_____ Termites or other pests such as pack rats checked out. Have the condition treated and
note on your SPDS.
_____ Flashings repaired/replaced/repainted if they need it.
_____ Garages, storage rooms, etc. cleaned out, painted or washed down.
_____ Air conditioning/evaporative cooling and heating units operational,
wiped off, debris removed. Water leaks fixed to eliminate any
*SPDS - Seller's Property Disclosure Statement