In the last 3 decades of my life, I have lived in 3 countries and moved from one home to another a total 12 times. During this period, I also purchased and sold 4 principal residences, and finally, as a realtor I have witnessed hundreds of home owners’ struggles in planning their move to their next dream home.
Although every home is different and may require additional work to get it in pristine condition, I soon realized there are some common turn-offs most buyers have when looking for a house.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing your home for sale:
Check and repair plumbing
Plugged drains and leaky faucets are two of my least favorite home maintenance issues. I also know these are the most common problems all homeowners face with their plumbing. What I learned is to identify and fix these common problems rather than avoiding them. This could be as simple as checking sinks being clogged at the top or pop-up plug in bathroom sinks.
Clean your home
I always consider house cleaning as a seasonal deep cleaning duty. I call it spring cleaning, summer cleaning, fall cleaning, winter cleaning! It personally gives me motivation, meaning and purpose. At the end it is all about mindset, isn’t it? Clean your home from top to bottom until it sparkles inside and out. Have fun with the process and envision the outcome. Clean the gutters. Pressure wash walkways. Wash windows. Clean bathrooms (re-caulk the tub, shower, and sink). Air out all rooms. Remove cobwebs. Wax floors. Polish appliances and faucets. Dust everything from furniture to light fixtures, fans, bookshelves. Vacuum every day. Steam clean any carpets.
Conquer your mess
My incredible son is a passionate collector of all kind of sports gadgets and tennis shoes. My mom is a collector of dishes. My dad is a collector of comforters for our dogs and I am messy with my paper work (thank god we become more green every day 😉 . So, imagine the serious and engaging conversations I had to have with every member of the family when our house was on the market. We simply want buyers to focus on how awesome our space is, don’t we? So, pack up everything you don’t need and think as if you are getting ready to move out and start a new beginning. Get rid of any extra or oversized items that could make your space look smaller than it really is. You may want to rent a storage unit until the house sells.
De-personalize your home
Buyers want to envision themselves in your home, so remove anything overly personal, like family photos in the hallway or your kids’ artwork on the fridge. Get rid of any art or décor that might conflict with people’s different tastes. I had to remove my Persian rugs and decorations to make it more neutral. Let’s just keep it simple.
Don’t be home during showings
Let’s face it, most buyers want to look at a house without the owners telling them stories or giving them advice. I had to make sure my parents were not home during the showings specially my sociable dad who loves to chat with everybody even with his broken and limited English. Buyers also find it difficult to visualize living in the house with the owners around.
The smell of cooking are big turn-offs to potential buyers. In my household, my mom cooks rice almost everyday. Although I can personally give up everything to taste the basmati rice, I know that the rice smell can be very overwhelming to some people. So, if cooking was unavoidable, I opened windows to let in fresh air. Cigarettes are another big turn off. If you are smoker, consider taking it outside as cigarette smell can be a deal-breaker. Instead give your home a lived-in flavor. Put some fresh-cut flowers in a vase by the sink. Place a basket of fruit on the kitchen counter. Place a few small potted plants in an empty corner. Spray the bathrooms with a zesty, clean smell. Keep your home smelling fresh. Bake bread, cookies or pies on the day of the showing. This will make buyers feel home and welcome in the house.
Enhance your entire home’s curb appeal
Don’t spend all your time indoors. Make sure your home’s exterior looks excellent as well. I have been lucky to have my parents, nature lovers, maintaining our outdoor life experience. My dad enjoys trimming our shrubs and my mom has a blast adding rows of potted plants along the walkway which has made a huge difference to our home curb appeal. I am sure you will find away to get inspired to do so too. Tidy up the outside. Mow the lawn, remove weeds, remove dead plants and plant flowers. Also remember to remove trash cans and store them in the side or the garage. Park down the street or in the garage. Keep garage door closed. Spray down corridors and sidewalks. Place a few flower pots in the porch or near the front door. Add lighting to your landscaping.
Fix the doors
I once missed the peak of the market because of my obsession to change my front door. Please don’t do what I did. However, make your doors easy to open and close and more attractive to potential buyers. Doors might stick or close improperly due to faulty locks, handles, latches, or door frames. For serious door and lock problems, call a professional locksmith. A fresh coat of paint will make the front door stand out.
Give spirit and character to your home
I am personally obsessed with home décor. I can come up with tons of ideas to give spirit and different energy to a tiny home space. I get inspired by every opportunity to move furniture around in my own home space and find it is the perfect set up every time, till next time. I invite you as well to change the energy and make your home original. Use every corner of it with purpose so that the buyers can see themselves in it. Turn your unused living room into a conversation area. Help buyers picture themselves relaxing into your family room. Create a theme for your office space, guest room, study room. An inviting chair, a tray with tea/coffee cup and an art book can turn an empty corner into an inspiring sitting area. An Aix-En Provence soap in a decorative tray can make your tiny powder room the charm of a floor. A unique welcome mat will make buyers feel more at home.
Highlight focal points
Bring buyers attention to any awe-deserving element with bright colors or accents pieces. Believe it or not this year, I had craving for yellow colour, the colour of prosperity and beauty. So, I painted my home ceilings yellow and added yellow throw pillows among others which draw my eyes towards them and every morning I wake up to the most beautiful picturesque wall to wall window with sunrise and greenery background. Sky is the limit with our imagination. What do you think of a bonsai tree on the mantle showcasing your fireplace?
Let mother nature fill your home with love
Showcase focal areas or empty corners of your home by placing a few potted plants in your living room/den, kitchen. Potted plants or a few pretty buds in a vase can help bring world of energy into your home space. I spice up my home’s flavour daily with fresh flowers from my garden and use palo santo wood as incense brought from Chile by my friend. You may want to add a bowl of fresh fruits in your kitchen or something else from the nature that talks to you.
Light it up!
I love natural light. In fact, in my home you don’t see any window coverings because of it. Natural light is a free gift and brings so much aliveness to our daily life. Bring it in with abundance and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim. A bright, cheery room looks much more inviting.
Organize closets and drawers
Organized and well-arranged closets give buyers the impression that you have taken good care of your home. I have a rule in my household to box winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. This allows me to make our closet spaces airy. How is it for you? It is a good practice to invest in some boxes, dividers that will help you getting more organized. Remove any items you don’t need immediately. Messy closets give the appearance that your home doesn’t have enough storage space.
Walls, trim, baseboards, and cabinets might need to be repainted to give a fresh look to your home. Paint your walls a neutral color that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. Any off-white, gray, or cream color is a good choice. Avoid bright loud colors as they make your decor extremely personalized. I remember when we painted our home from coffee to Champagne colour, I felt our living/dining room was much brighter and bigger. Isn’t it amazing how a choice of colour can give a different feel to your home? Hiring a professional painter might be a good idea to save time and leverage as they know what kind of paint and colour to buy for different areas of your home.
Take care of pets
To most people, pets are members of the family, as they are for me and my family. Unfortunately, dogs are also messy and in some cases their odor can be a huge turn-off to potential buyers. I remember last time I was on the market to sell my home, I had several things to take care of, including my two dogs. After doing a thorough cleaning of the house, it is best to keep pets out until the house is sold. Take your pet to a friend or family member. I took my dogs to my sister and they had a blast together for a couple of weeks. If you don’t have that option available, remove pets when you have scheduled house showings.
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