Getting your house or condo ready to put on the market can be a daunting task, but by putting together a game plan and sticking to a check list, it can be done. 

Buyers have a certain expectation when looking at property.  They want it to be clean, updated and available for showings.  There is a lot of competition in the market place right now, so what can you do that will set your home/condo above the others.  Some of these may seem very obvious, but in my 18 years of real estate, it never ceases to amaze me that Seller’s don’t follow some of these very easy details.  Keep in mind you can never replace the first impression

1.       De-Clutter!  Grab your bins and start packing them up.  If it is summer, pack up the winter clothing and get it out of the house.  By clearing out a closet so that it is only half full will give the appearance of a larger closet.  You may have to rent a storage space but less stuff means more room and a sense of space for the Buyer.

2.      Organize- Spend some time in the garage and get the equipment organized.  It will amaze you how many bikes, skis, tools and other outdoor items that you no longer use or the kids have grown out of.  Get rid of it.  Same thing in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Buyers will open drawers so make sure they have been cleaned out and are tidy.  Most importantly, de-personalize your home.  Buyers become distracted by looking at family photos or personal keepsakes.  It is very distracting for the Buyer and it makes them feel as if they are intruding into someone’s space, they can’t visualize and make it their own.

3.      Lighten it up- Go through the house and make sure all light fixtures are working.  Change burned out bulbs and put in higher wattage bulbs.  Buyers want sunlight so open drapes, turn lights on and make sure the windows are clean.

4.      Keep it Neutral- If you like electric blue with Bronco orange walls for highlight, most likely the new Buyer won’t.  Keep it neutral will be the top 3 words for you to use during this time.  Paint those brightly colored rooms down to a subtle neutral tone.  That goes for furnishings too.  Furniture is an affordable option to think about.  If your kids or pets have destroyed the couch that is the centerpiece of a room or you still have the same couch from college; change it.  A very small investment can go a long way here.  If you are not sure, there are great experts in our market place that will walk the house with you and help you with colors, furniture pieces and staging.  Rearranging the furniture may be one of the easiest ways to give your house a mini-face lift.

5.      Clean, Clean, Clean- Not only should you clean the house as you typically would, but when getting ready to put the house on the market, now is the time to go where no man has gone before… (or at least in a very long time).  Clean inside and outside cabinets, clean the windows inside and out, repair grout in the bathrooms and kitchen, reach up into the corners of the rooms and the highest light fixture and get the cobwebs down and clean the carpets.  This is one place you cannot skimp.  Call in the professionals as needed as having someone new brings in a new eye to things you don’t notice anymore.

6.      Home is Where the Kitchen Is- Families spend a huge amount of time in this room so make it as inviting as possible.  Complete makeovers are expensive, but there are ways to spruce it up without a total makeover.  How do the appliances look?  Do they match?  Are they damaged?  If so, a small investment of one or more appliance is very appealing to a Buyer.  Another easy upgrade can be adding new hardware to the cabinets and touching up the paint in this room.

7.      Think Seasonally-Make your house on the outside season ready.  If it is winter, make sure the driveway, decks and all walk-ways are well shoveled and clear of snow.  If we are going into the Holiday Season, you may want to consider putting up Holiday lights.  During the summer, plant shrubs and plant flowers with plenty of color.  Put flower pots by the front door and reseed or add sod as needed.  Make that walk to the front door something that they will remember.  If you have a deck, sand and stain the wood.  Wouldn’t it be better if the Buyer talked about your house as the one with the beautiful walk-way rather than the house with the dead lawn.

8.      No Trace of Felix or Fido- I know we love our pets, but not everyone else does.  Put the dog bed under the bed, make sure their food area is clean.  If there is a cat, the litter box should be cleaned out daily.  There is nothing worse than smelling a litter box.  And when the house is on the market, clearing the pets out of the house during showings is best.  I have seen cats bite and dogs growl at potential Buyers; not good and can be a little scary.

9.      Sweat the Small Stuff and Fix it- Go through your house and evaluate if there are any issues such as small leaks at the faucets, a light switch that isn’t working, making sure doors open and close properly and that closet doors are on track.  If you can see it, don’t think for one minute that it won’t be glaring out at the Buyers

10.   Hire a professional that knows how to market your property.  They should be putting your best features first.  Making sure your pictures, and verbiage tell a story that Buyer’s appreciate and understand. And most importantly, do your part. Keep the house clean, available for showings and leave for the showings.  This is a team effort… Your Realtor’s success is your success.