Do you ever wonder what you should be doing to make your house sell? Well - it is time you take a really good look at your home, and ask yourself:
"Does my house look like a showhome?"
I spent many years working for one of Calgary, and Alberta's, best home builders. I learned a lot of things along the way, but what I noticed were these things:
1) People love looking at houses
2) People love dreaming about living in the houses they're looking at
3) People will spend a lot of time sitting in a house that isn't theirs if they're in love with it because they're dreaming about it becoming theirs
So how do you attract these kinds of buyers?
You have to create a space they can visualize themselves living in.
This is definitely easier said then done, but here are a few helpful hints:
1) Remove all the clutter
You're moving anyway, right? So, why not start packing before your house is even on the market.
Throw out all the paper that tends to collect on that one counter top. If it's important - file it. If you don't have a filing cabinet, go to Staples, and buy a small filo-box for all the files you're definitely going to create by buying and selling a home. Trust me, you're going to need it!
Clean out your kitchen cupboards, the linen closet, that 'Monica' closet (if you didn't catch that 'Friends' reference, I'm not sure how else to explain it). I hate to break it to you, but people will open your closets and your drawers. I know these are great hiding spots when guests come over, but buyers aren't guests! They are looking at every nook and cranny to see if they can live in your home, so make it easy for them to see around your stuff.
Don't use it? Donate it / Recycle it / Sell it
Can't part with it? Pack it
Still use it? Decide if you can live without it for a couple months. If you can, pack it; if you can't,
put it back.
**side note - don't pack everything in the furnace room. This tends to be the place where everything gets forgotten, and where things go that never come back. Buyers need to see the furnace room. They need to know how it works, how old it is, when was it last inspected and cleaned... not to mention the hot water tank, electrical panel, etc.
Clear out that book shelf and pack all those books. Keep a few "pretty books" (i.e. books that belong to a set, hardcovers), these can all be used once we get to the 'staging' part.
2) Keep your Counters Clear and Clean (this includes table tops, dressers, night stands, etc.)
I understand - this is still your home, so you still need to live there. But be as practical as you can. If you need 50 bobby pins to hold your hair up every day, then make sure you have a nice jar to put them in. People love looking at a nice jar, but hate looking at 50 bobby pins. I bet if you walk into a showhome right now, there will be a jar on the countertop!
Feel free to add a nice runner, or some generic pictures. A picture here or there of your child isn't going to deter a buyer. But having every picture in your family tree sitting on the Baby Grand probably isn't the best way to allow a buyer to picture themselves living in your home.
Whatever you do, keep the table tops and counters clean of dust and crumbs.
3) Take Down Anything Personal (including personal photos and religious symbols)
I touched on this in #2, but this pertains more-so to your walls. It is important to allow buyers the ability to visualize themselves living in your space. Take some time to figure out if something would be too hard for them to overlook. Do you have a wall full of 8'x10' wedding photo's, beautifully framed, and hung symmetrically? I don't doubt it looks beautiful, but it's awfully hard for anyone else to see themselves in that room, if all they see is you.
4) All Those Kids Toys
I know, this is the bain of my existence too. But try to contain it. I know there are a ton of toys your children have outgrown, or they've broken, or have pieces missing, and you've been meaning to throw them out. This is your chance! Whatever is left after 'the purge' store in some neutral bins, or storage cubes (you know, those cool ones that have the dual purpose of a bench or ottoman, as well as a storage space?!) Also, try to keep everything contained to one area of the home other then the kids bedrooms. If you can keep it contained to the bedrooms, you've won this round, and good on ya!
Once you've removed all the clutter and items that you simply don't need in the immediate future, pack them all neatly, and stack them in a tidy and orderly fashion in your basement or garage (where ever you would like). If you have a lot, and the boxes are overflowing your basement, see if you are able to utilize some space with family or friends. Remember, the less clutter, the better.
That's the worst part - I promise. The fun part (in my opinion) comes next.
Your house probably feels pretty sparse and unfriendly by this point, but we're going to fix that with...
Don't be afraid of this. A few dollars at HomeSense and your house will be ready.
Focus on adding texture and color to all the rooms, with a common thread throughout the entire home. For example, the color blue. This can be incorporated into almost every room, even if it's just a throw pillow, a runner, a vase or a tiny jar for your bobby pins.
Move your furniture around. I know this may seem redundent, but moving a couch from a crowded living room, to the den that you never use, could give your living room the opportunity it needs to 'breathe' and provide the den a little purpose as well.
Add texture with throw pillows, throw blankets, and runners (curtains too if you're brave enough). If your house isn't already full of these items, they're easy to find at stores all around Calgary. Remember to mix and match your color palette and texture wheel. Not great at this, ask for help! This doesn't take long at all, and you don't need a lot.
Don't leave the walls bare. We've put some work into taking things off the wall that are too 'personal', so replace them with something a bit more generic. Mix and match your textures here as well.
Mirrors provide the illusion of a larger space and more natural light, so they're always great to have hanging. Add some metal pieces to the artwork that you're hanging. Frame a nice landscape that your grandma painted. I've even bought a few matching frames from IKEA, and gone to Michaels for some pretty scrap book paper to frame. It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to look pretty.
Tips for Hanging Things on the Wall:
- make sure they're hung at eye level. Not too high, and not too low. You want about a third of the picture
above eye level
- ensure the item fits the wall. A tiny picture on a 10' wall will look funny. Make sure it's symmetrical, and put
that tiny picture on a smaller wall
Add some light. Side tables are made to have lamps on them. Light up the room!
6) Keep it Clean!
This is by-far the worst part of having your house on the market. I encourage all my sellers to do a major clean of their home before doing pictures. This includes cleaning glass/mirrors/windows and baseboards. Once the major clean is out of the way, here are some helpful hints, so you're not feeling like your doing an overhaul clean everytime I call you (because I am your Realtor®) to tell you there is a showing in half an hour.
- Dust every 1 to 2 days. Annoying? Yes. But also, very quick, because there wont be a lot of dust
- Only touch things once. Done using it? Put it away while you're thinking about it, instead of having things
pile up. Don't want to go up and down the stairs all day? Put a nice basket at the bottom (or top) of the
stairs, to take with you to empty when you're ready
- Do a load of laundry every day, that way it doesn't pile up
- Stay on top of the dishes
- Make your bed every morning
- Empty the garbages every few days (including the laundry room and the bathrooms)
- Sweep. Vacuuming can take a long time, and isn't necessary all the time (although, who doesn't like those
vacuum lines in the carpet?!) Give your house a good run through with the vacuum on a weekly basis, and
you should be good - don't forget those high-traffic areas, including the stairs!
- Spot clean, especially with kids! Sometimes there's a sticky spot on the hardwood, that all the dust and dirt
sticks to, and then it's just a giant black spot on your otherwise clean floors. Just take a damp cloth and
scrub it clean.
- Wipe down the banisters and doorways, again, especially if you have children. Pay attention to the 4' mark
There you have it. A guide to ensuring your home is ready to sell. This seems like a lot, but most of it is a one-time deal. #6 is the only real daily chore. I promise, if you use these tips, your home will sell faster and you'll get fair market value too.
Have questions or comments? Let me know!