If you’ve decided that 2014 is the year to sell your home but you want to wait a couple of months to take advantage of the spring housing market, you’ll make your real estate transaction a lot less frantic if you start now to prepare for your home sale.
Ten Tips for Sellers
1. Start packing now. You may be thinking that you don’t plan on going anywhere for months, but the idea of packing now is that you can start to de-clutter your home before you show it to potential buyers. Tackle your closets, your basement and your storage room if you have one and pack up anything you want to move but won’t need until you arrive at your new home. Sort everything else to decide if it’s trash, something you can sell or something you want to donate to someone else. Think about de-personalizing your space, too. Buyers want to visualize themselves and their family in your home, so you’re better off putting away your children’s finger paintings and family photos. Consider renting a storage unit for your extra boxes.
Go through your clothes closets and see what you can get rid of or pack away so that your closets look emptier and as if they can accommodate your buyers’ belongings.
2. Replace your knobs. If your doorknobs, especially on the front door, look dated or can’t be cleaned properly, you can easily replace them for less than $50. Check out all your cabinet knobs in the kitchen and baths, too, and see if they should be replaced. Shiny knobs in brushed nickel will give an instant lift to your rooms, especially if you have outdated gold or brass hardware.
3. Replace your switch plates and outlet covers. New, clean and matching covers throughout the home will cost very little but give a more polished look to your rooms. Buyers aren’t likely to notice them individually, but the overall look will be fresh.
4. Replace your faucets. An old-fashioned or chipped bathroom or kitchen faucet can be replaced for $100 or less. Some homeowners can do this job themselves, but others may need to hire a plumber to make sure it is done properly.
5. Paint or replace your front door. Buyers linger by the front door while they wait for a Realtor to open your home, so make sure that their first impression is a good one.
6. Paint your rooms. While you’ll have to wait for an improvement in the weather to do any outdoor landscaping or to buy a few plants, you can paint your rooms to brighten them or make them more neutral. Don’t stick with just white paint, either. The new neutrals are pale grey or creamy beige. If you decide to skip painting the entire house, at least touch up trim near the front door and around windows which are particularly visible to visitors.
7. Check out your light fixtures. If you’re still using older looking brass light fixtures, updating them with new ones from a hardware store can make a big difference in appealing to buyers. Don’t forget to look at your ceiling fans, too, to see if they’re worn out. Make sure you have as much light as possible in every room when you start showing the house. If you don’t have overhead lighting you may want to extra lamps if you can find a way to do it without making the space look cluttered.
8. Replace faded curtains and old blinds. A quick and inexpensive way to brighten the windows and rooms of your home (besides cleaning the windows) is to add new curtains. If you have enough privacy, consider leaving your windows uncovered for extra light.
9. Shop for new towels. You can pick up some inexpensive towels and never use them except for when your home is being shown. Fresh towels, a new bathroom rug and a new shower curtain will make your bathroom look cleaner and brighter.
10. Grout and caulk. Check out the caulk all over your home to see if you need to clean it or dig it out and replace it, particularly around your tub or shower. You can also re-do the grout on your bathroom tile to make it look as if it’s been renovated.
While you’re working on these little projects, take a break and visit a newly built home in your community so you know what your competition could be when you put your home on the market. You may be able to pick up some tips that you can try in your home when you list it.