So, you’ve watched countless hours of HGTV and want to sell your house, but just can’t afford to do the remodel or updating you’d like to do to make your house the dreamy modernized destination for hopeful homebuyers. What now?
Well, you may not be able to replace Formica with granite or switch the harvest gold to stainless steel, but you still can take your home to the next level and set the stage for an eager buyer, all the while getting what you might consider a fair price for what still could be a quality home.
This might sound like common sense, but these are things that must be reinforced when selling a home. If you’re ready and willing to put forth some effort, it’s time to get to work. Here’s how to begin:
Remove even the slightest hint that dirt or dust ever existed in your home. In other words, clean the place from top to bottom—from molding and ceiling fans to baseboards, shelves, closets and everything in between. Make every visible surface spotless. Don’t cut corners, and don’t hide dirt; inquisitive homebuyers will always find it. And a dirty place says something about an owner’s efforts to care for the overall well-being of the home, regardless of age.
Attack the biggest dust-makers with a vengeance: Central air vents spread dust and dirt like nothing else. Remove all vent covers and clean them thoroughly. It’s worth the expense to replace ones that are dented, damaged or dirty beyond recovery. Also, change the filters in your air handler/furnace system. Get rid of any trace of lint you can find.
De-clutter like never before. After the place is spotless, de-cluttering takes it a step further. Personal items and knick-knacks make your place look messy and unappealing. Empty some shelves and lose the trophies on the mantle; get them packed and have them ready for your future new home. Store the shampoo, soap and shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom closet or under the counter. Display clean, empty vanity tops and tub and shower surfaces. Store various kitchen toys and appliances—from electric juicers, mixers and food dehydrators to toaster ovens and that cool coffee grinder—out of sight. The more you remove from the countertops, the more counter space your buyer will see. New homebuyers want to visualize how their stuff will look in your place. Give them a canvas to work with. If you must, rent a small storage space for a short time reserved for only the most offending clutter. Pack it well, and have it ready to move to your new home. At the same time, make some serious decisions about things you can just throw away. Today, all sorts of storage solutions exist to help you out. You might want to give PODS a try.
De-personalize as much as possible. While it takes on many forms, depersonalizing is a pretty simple concept. If anything on the walls, shelves, cabinets, tables or countertops tells a prospective buyer “who” you are, save it for another day. A personal photo strategically placed here or there is nothing to worry about, but the tree of 200 family photos that graces a stairwell needs to go. In the D.C. area in particular, pack up any politically oriented items, just in case. Even seemingly innocuous things can turn off a potential buyer.
Also, make several quick, relatively inexpensive fixes. Here are a few examples that can go a long way and won’t dent your pocketbook:
* Replace electrical outlet and light switch covers. A pack of 10 standard, white nylon plates is less that $4 at Lowe’s.
* Update the cabinet and drawer knobs/handles in your kitchen. It may not sound like much, but it can make a big difference.
* Keep the exterior neat and clean: Mow the lawn, edge to give it good lines and trim back the bushes.
Most important: Keep it clean! Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Even an empty home sitting on the market gets dirty. Make sure you maintain a steady regimen of cleaning touch-ups to ensure your house is sparkling for that picky homebuyer.