If you’ve had your house listed for sale for what seems like forever and you aren’t getting any bites, then there could be a multitude of reasons. From too high of an asking price, to too low of an asking price, to a bad location, to a dip in the market, to a lazy real estate agent, and a host of others. However, if you haven’t effectively prepared your house for viewing then the most likely culprit for a lack of offers is YOU.
The biggest role you can play in the selling process is to make your house so alluring that anyone who enters cannot help but to make an offer. I realize that idea sounds farfetched, but it can at least be a goal to aim for.
Most agents are good at explaining how to prepare your house for showings. But, if you are doing a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) or if you were forced to go with a crappy agent because he is your brother, then you could probably use a little direction. The following suggestions should go a long way in making your house irresistible to potential buyers.
“Pretend your overly judgmental mother-in-law is coming over for dinner…”
- Declutter your house.
- Clean up all the stuff that you never put away and leave lying around because you know you’ll use it again in the next few weeks. This includes that blanket draped over the la-z-boy, the magazines on the coffee table, that box of random junk you’ve been meaning to go through, and all of the kids’ toys that are scattered throughout the house. Pretend your overly judgmental mother-in-law is coming over for dinner and you want to avoid all her comments about how unkempt the house is.
- Clear off all the counter space in your kitchen and bathrooms. The less stuff you have on the counters the larger and more spacious they look. Put away the coffee maker. “But I use it everyday” you say. That may be, but take the extra 5 seconds to put it in the cabinet when you’re done. Don’t leave mail on the counter. Put the butcher block full of knives away. The only things that should be on your counters should be decorative in nature, such as a vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit, or an attractive soap dispenser.
- Put away most of your decorative items, including that shelf full of Precious Moments figurines. You’ll want to leave a few decorative things in place to prevent an institutional feeling, but put away 70-80% of your home decor. Think of how the reveal looks on one of those HGTV shows. The rooms look amazing, but they are totally impractical because the only useful items in the rooms are chairs and sofas. This is how you want your house to look.
- Start packing.
- Go ahead and box up everything that you don’t plan on needing in the next couple of months. If it is summer time then pack up your winter clothes. Pack up all of those kitchen items that you only use once a year. Pack the camping gear piled up in your closet. Pack the books from the bookshelf. You want your house feeling nice and roomy. In the worst case scenario, you need that turkey baster and you have to go and pull it out of the box; big deal. Also, don’t forget to label all of your boxes well. It may be a pain at the time, but you’ll thank yourself later.
- Put all of your boxes out of sight, don’t pile them in that empty corner in the dining room. Stack them in the garage, in a storage shed out back, in an unfinished part of the basement, or go ahead and rent one of those portable storage pods and fill it up.
- All of this will help your house be and feel more spacious. If someone is viewing your house and opens the kitchen cabinet, you don’t want them to see 37 casserole dishes piled on top of each other. You want them to see a nice spacious cabinet with one or two items inside and plenty of room for more stuff.
- De-personalize your house.
- When people walk through your house and see pictures of your family it makes it difficult for them to imagine themselves living there. They feel like they are in someone else’s home. You want them to feel like they are in their home. Take down all family photos, art projects, and anything else that is uniquely personal to your family.
- You’ll also need to change any design improvements that you’ve made that are on the fringe of design tastes. For example, paint that hot pink wall gray, take down the uber contemporary chandelier in your dining room and replace it with a more standard fixture, paint over your child’s growth marks that are on the wall, and put away the taxidermy. You get the idea.
- Fix stuff.
- You’ve probably been putting off all kinds of small issues over the years, so now is the time to take care of these. Replace that broken outlet cover, patch that hole in the drywall, spray WD40 on that squeaky hinge, change out the weathered front door handle, paint that shutter that was replaced, and hammer in the nails sticking up out of the deck. All of these little things will add up with a potential buyer. By the time they see the 2nd or 3rd issue they are thinking about how much work it will be to own your house.
- If you get a contract and the buyer has an inspection done, they may ask you to do some repairs. If you can do some of the repairs yourself then by all means do, especially if you only need a few cheap parts from the hardware store. This will help the buyer to see that you care about the house and are willing make things right. Otherwise, higher a handyman or other professional to take care of the repairs.
- This one should be obvious. Your house needs to be spic and span, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. It should not only look and feel clean, but it should smell clean, too. Make sure to clean up all the things that you’ve ignored over the years such as the mildew in the shower, the dirty baseboards, and the windows.
- For pet owners, this may be your most difficult step. You need to remove as much pet hair and pet smell as possible. Stock up on Febreze and spray your furniture and carpet on a constant basis. Remove as much evidence of your pet as possible, such as putting away chew toys, the dog bed, and the scratching post. The less evidence a buyer sees, the more likely they are to forget that a pet even lives in the place. If your buyer is a fellow pet owner, then you might be in clear, but pet odor and pet hair is not something you want to overlook.
- Add some ‘wow’ factor.
- Now that your house is all ready you need to add that extra pop to really make it stand out. Add some fresh cut flowers in the kitchen, stack some wood in the fireplace (even if it’s summer), put some fruit in a decorative bowl as a centerpiece on the dining room table. Don’t go overboard here; it’s the subtle things that can make the difference. Watch a few hours of HGTV to get some ideas.
- The biggest opportunity for wowing buyers is with curb appeal. The more attractive your house looks from the street, the more likely buyers are to fall in love with it. Most buyers make their decision within the first minute of arriving at your house, and most of that minute is spent in the driveway, walking to the front door, and waiting on their agent to unlock the house. Make sure your grass is cut regularly, edge the driveway and sidewalk, and keep your shrubs pruned. It wouldn’t hurt to plant some flowers in your beds or in some containers on your front porch, or both!
“Most buyers make their decision within the first minute of arriving at your house, and most of that minute is spent in the driveway, walking to the front door, and waiting on their agent to unlock the house.”
You never know if an impromptu showing will occur while you’re away so always keep your house in showing condition. It will require some extra effort on your part, but it will be worth it in the end if it helps sell your house sooner. Putting all of these ideas into practice will greatly increase your chances of getting an offer. If you have any more great ideas of how to prepare your house for selling then please add them in the comments. But, if you don’t want to go to any of this trouble, then give us a call or fill out the form on our website. We can pay cash for your house, close quickly, and you won’t to do any clean up or mess with any repairs.