Home Preparation: Clean and Spacious are the Magic Words

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Preparing your home for sale can feel completely overwhelming, especially if you tend to save all of your kids’ art projects or you haven’t gotten around to that silly maintenance stuff. Home preparation can also be completely painless if you’re a minimalist who already keeps a clean and tidy home. Either way, this is a no-judgement blog zone, so start your purge by turning over a piece of art to take notes on, and read on.

Clear the clutter

The goal of home preparation is to make your house look like it could be anyone’s home, and that it’s practically brand new. The less stuff you see, the bigger and more welcoming a space seems. So thin out what’s hanging on the walls and planted on tables, counters, shelves, mantels, and the refrigerator. Think major pare down. Even your small appliances should be tucked into cabinets. But don’t just stuff everything in either: opening doors and cabinets is fair game for prospective buyers, and you don’t want that hockey trophy from 7th grade falling on some poor prospective buyer’s head.

Now is also the time to clear clutter and make donations, or have a yard sale. Pack the rest of your extra stuff in boxes and leave it, neatly organized and ready for your next home, in a corner of a closet, basement, or attic. Asking friends and relatives to store your stuff is another option — they love to keep extra boxes of treasure in their garages. If all else fails, take advantage of one of those storage facility first month free deals. In summary: get your overflow out of your house flow.

Speaking of relatives, prospective buyers want to picture photos of THEIR relatives in the house, not yours (no judgement zone, undoubtedly all of your relatives are extremely attractive), so off to the boxes in the basement your family pictures go. And definitely pack away that naked gnome painting. It may be hard to believe, but the perfect (in all other ways) buyer might not think it’s funny.

If you want to take prep to the next level, consider staging your house: hire a professional decorator to make your home look as attractive as possible. Stagers move, rearrange, or get rid of (off to the basement) existing furniture and accessories to improve visual appeal. They may even bring in items that make your spaces show in the best light.

Refresh the walls and floors

Whether or not you decide to have your home staged, you’ve got to think about your walls. Even if they look freshly painted, dated wine red dining rooms and dust-grabbing popcorn ceilings don’t appeal to today’s buyers. So, the walls have to be painted, whether by you or by someone you hire, and if at all possible, the popcorn should be scraped.

Neutral, boring colors, such as white, cream, light gray, or beige are best. Lighter colors make a space look bigger and more open, plus many people want to buy a move-in ready home. Even if the walls are already a light neutral color, if their best days are behind them, it’s still smart to paint. Don’t forget baseboards either. People want to see that you have taken care of the house. And while some sellers offer a painting “allowance” for buyers, the human brain is tricky, and despite knowing the walls won’t remain red and the ceilings won’t remain pointy, they still make a purchase that much less appealing.

The same goes for flooring. Replace dirty rundown carpet, or offer an allowance if you are in a big hurry or can’t stand the thought of dealing with it. Wood floors are another feature that, depending on condition, may need to be refinished or replaced. In general, houses with floors that are new or in primo condition are easier to sell. There are lots of flooring options available today in a wide range of prices, so don’t assume the cost of replacement will be astronomical.

Think clean and consider curb appeal

If you haven’t figured it out yet, your house should be squeaky clean before it goes on the market. Consider hiring a deep cleaner if you, well, have never deep cleaned (one more time: judgement-free zone).

Finally, don’t forget curb appeal. Some homeowners replace the roof and have the exterior of the house painted in preparation for selling. If the roof and the exterior are in bad shape and you don’t give them a makeover, the buyer will most likely ask for a lower sale price.

You know what they say about first impressions. Many buyers will scratch a house off the list as soon as they pull up. Keep grass cut and alive, weeds pulled, bushes pruned. Fix anything that’s falling apart. A large potted fern on each side of the front door is nice, but don’t go overboard with plants or yard decor.

Now that all the prep work is done, you might not want to leave your home to let prospective buyers visit! But keep your eye on the prize: if all goes well, your hard work will result in a great offer, and you’ll soon be on your way to your next home.

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