Every homeowner wants their home to sell as quickly as possible for “top dollar”, but they often overlook simple things that can help them accomplish that goal. If I had a nickel for every time I was asked “Should I remodel my bathroom?” or “Should I paint this front door?” I would be able to retire quire comfortably in Costa Rica right now. So, I have compiled a list of ten things you can do to prepare your house for its future owner.
- Put away the nick-nacks and family photos! I know that wall covered in your daughters baby photos and awards warms your heart, but it’s just going to cause a potential buyer to think “I am going to have to repair all those nail holes!” If you do have photos displayed in areas such as a mantel, side table, etc., consider using photos of your family enjoying your home. If a potential buyer sees a beautiful family picture next to the Christmas tree in that perfect spot in your living room, or a family having fun in the backyard pool, they are more likely to imagine hosting their own family events in the same space. Use your select photo display areas to show the future homeowner how much you love your home.
- Clean your closets and drawers! You know that guest room closet that is bursting at the seams or “junk drawer” in your kitchen that is full of pens, notepads, receipts, and flashlights? Clean them out as if you are moving tomorrow. While you may not qualify to be featured on an episode of Hoarders, potential buyers still want to see the size of closets and picture their clothes in them. They want to open drawers and see how they close. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. If your kitchen drawers or closets explode when a buyer opens them, they will remember THAT instead of the good things about your home.
- Have your home “deep cleaned”. For a small amount of money, you can hire someone to come in and professionally clean your home (including that oven that has never been cleaned!). If you don’t think a potential buyer can be turned off by your refrigerator, you are mistaken. As an added benefit to a potential buyer, consider allowing your Realtor to “throw in” having your home professionally cleaned before the next buyer moves in. This can be done during negotiations if you have gotten a price that is suitable to you. A good will gesture can go a long way.
- Fix your mailbox and clean the front door! A dated, rusty, dirty, or dented mail box is unattractive. While it sounds like a minor detail, details affect perception and perception affects price! If your mail box is close to your front door, make sure the entrance is clear, clean, and attractive. A nice, inexpensive coat of paint goes a long way! Your front door and entrance to your home will be the first and last thing a buyer will see when viewing your home.
- Pressure-wash your driveway. We live in an age where most families have at least two cars in Florida. In the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area, parking is a premium! Your driveway will look larger and more inviting if it has been freshly cleaned. Your home will also look more inviting, and a potential buyer will appreciate how well your home is cared for. It’s one more thing a buyer will not have to worry about when they move in, and that is a selling feature!
- If you have already moved out of your home, consider having all of the interior walls painted with a neutral color (think builder beige or a clean, soft white). While many buyers want to add their personal touch to a home, having a freshly painted blank canvass allows a buyer to personalize on their own timeline. Your home will also feel newer, cleaner, and ready to move into.
- Keep your yard maintained. Nothing screams “I don’t care” more than an overgrown yard. Whether you are living in your home still or you have already moved out and into your new place, it is essential that your yard stay kept. Curb appeal goes a long way when it comes to a buyer falling in love with a home- and in today’s market, one of the keys to a buyer feeling like they are getting a “good deal” is them LOVING your home.
- Be careful with the smells! If a potential buyer walks into a home and finds a lit candle in every room, or an air freshener in every outlet, they will assume you are covering something up. It is much better to buy a small air purifier and place it in a drafty area…or use the cookie trick! Buy some “break and bake” cookie dough at the store, and bake a couple of cookies before the buyers arrive at your home. Be sure to cover them with plastic wrap on an attractive plate before you leave the house. As long as you don’t burn the cookies, this works quite well. When a potential buyer goes to the next home they will still smell the freshly baked cookies from yours! If you want to go through the effort of making cookies from scratch, just be sure to call me to come over and discuss the showings around desert time.
- Give your Realtor copies of any operating manuals for your appliances, maintenance and warranty information, notes about paint colors, and recent utility bills. Your Realtor can determine which items to use to “entice” potential buyers and set your home apart from the rest. This will also let potential buyers know that you are serious about selling your home.
- Consider having a home inspection done. Home inspections can run anywhere from $150-several hundred dollars depending on the inspector and the size and construction of the home. If you can have an inspection done before you put your house up for sale, it is well worth the investment. Many homeowners don’t want to have this done because they “don’t want to know about any issues”, but my opinion is that this is a flawed way of thinking. Most buyers will have an inspection done, which means they will discover any issues with your house. When they discover those issues they will either ask you to repair or replace them by a licensed contractor, or they will want to deduct the cost of those repairs from what they are willing to pay for your house. If the buyer walks away, you now have to disclose those issues to all future buyers. Often, issues are minor and can be fixed inexpensively on your own (think sprinkler heads) which can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars down the road. If there are repairs that exceed your budget (ex. roof issues), you can shop for quotes and be prepared for negotiations. You can then let potential buyers know of the repairs that were made and show them a clean inspection! For buyers who have been shopping for a while, this peace of mind is priceless. Remember, surprises waste everyone’s time and they cost you money in the end!
While this list is not EVERYTHING you can do to get your house ready for sale, these items will definitely help give your home an advantage above its competition. If you are considering selling your home in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I would be more than happy to come take a look at your home and help you sell it! I can be reached at 352-697-2522 or at Bobby@BobbyPoth.com. If you are not in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I would be happy to refer you to a qualified, licensed real estate professional in your area!
Bobby Poth has been Florida Licensed Real Estate Salesperson since 2004 and has been recognized as a top producing agent. Bobby is currently at Revolution Real Estate in St. Petersburg, FL. and is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Realtors, and the Pinellas Realtor Association.