• Trim the lawn and shrubs. Fertilize and water if needed, and pull the weeds.
• Store anything that is not being used, such as children’s toys, car accessories, etc.
• Your clutter will make it hard for prospective buyers to visualize the home as their own.
• If possible, fix cracks and bulges in walks and driveways; remove oil stains, etc.
• Replace stray or warped roofing shingles. Straighten sagging gutters.
• Repaint old siding, windows, shutters, doors and even the mailbox.
• Replace a worn doorbell button. Polish any brass on the front door.
• Clean all of the windows, especially around the front entrance. Replace a worn doormat. These things say you care about your house, and the doormat will protect floors and carpets.
• Clean the kitchen including oven, exhaust hood and inside of dishwasher.
• Remove clutter from counters and cabinets.
• Remove the personal photos and magnets and school menus, etc. from the refrigerator.
Some buyers will judge the maintenance of the entire house by the cleanliness of the kitchen. Buyers also need to be able to envision the house as their own. And the more personal knick-knacks of yours that you are willing to remove, the easier you can make this possible.
Few things increase marketability and give you a better cost return than new paint.
• Freshen any worn or soiled walls and woodwork with neutral-toned paint or wood polish. Replace dated colors like “70’s Orange”. Paint over kid’s murals or wild colors as most potential buyer’s taste will not match your own.
• Polish wood floors and stairs.
• Steam clean or consider replacing dated, worn and dark carpeting.
• Repair dripping faucets, crooked drawers, sticking doors. Tighten the hardware, especially doorknobs. Any minor flaws in your house suggest neglect to prospects.
• Replace appliances that are especially old or malfunctioning.
• Clean windows and screens inside and out.
• Scrub counters, polish bathroom fixtures and wipe down tiles.
• Clean out the closets and storage spaces.
• Clean exterior of water heater and furnace/air conditioner where prospects will be inspecting. You can also drain a bucket of water from the water heater to remove any rust particles.
• If your garage has become a two-car attic, take some time sell or throw out the things you were ready to let go of anyway, then straighten your garage as much as possible. Buyers will look at a chaotic garage as evidence of a homeowner who doesn’t care for their house.
After you’ve completed all necessary repairs, go over your house with a fine-toothed comb before the first prospect arrives. Everything should be sparkling clean inside and out, and in good working order. Be ruthless. Put things in their places. Get rid of the trash. Open all of the blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible. Make each room look as roomy as it can. In general, tidy up, open up and especially eliminate clutter!
People react emotionally to your home’s smell when they first enter–either positively or negatively. When your agent’s office calls to make an appointment, allow time to air out the rooms. Consider a mild air freshener or run a lemon through the disposal. Baking cookies, bread, or simply boiling a pot of cinnamon or vanilla can add a nice aroma. Aromatherapy has proven to be an effective way of creating a “buying mood” by adding a drop or two directly onto light bulbs – Ylang Ylang is a common, recommended scent. Turn on the lights and open window curtains and shades to let in maximum light. Turn off stereos TVs and radios. (playing soft, classical music can be OK) Keep children out of the way; park the pets outside. Get the whole place ready for close inspection.
It is best if you are not in your prospective buyer arrives, however if that is not possible, greet prospects politely and excuse yourself. Leave the selling to the agent. Agents know what your house has to offer and what these particular buyers are looking for.