1. The rule of thumb is, "if something needs repair, fix
it!" There are probably many things in your home that you
have simply become used to over time, things that you have
been "promising yourself" that you will attend to. Well, now
is the time. The buyer will mentally add up the cost of
repairing all those minor flaws and end up with an amount
that is generally much higher than what it would cost you to
do the repairs. You might be saying to yourself, "These
repairs aren't any big deal", but the buyer might think, "If
the owners didn't take care of these little items, then what
about the roof, or the furnace?" Small needed repairs or
perceived owner neglect and will either lower the purchase
price or lengthen the time required to sell.
Check all walls for peeling paint and loose wallpaper.
Concerning large repairs, in today's climate of open
disclosure and vigilant professional home inspections, the
rule is: Treat a buyer as you would yourself. Repair any
problems with major systems or offer an allowance for the
buyer to make repairs after closing. Always disclose
anything that you know about the property. Having been a
consumer yourself, you know that buyers will more readily
make a purchase decision with someone whom they can trust.
4. Every area of the home must sparkle and shine! Each
hour spent will be well worth it. Would you rather buy a
clean car, or a dirty one? Would you hurry to buy a pair of
shoes with mud on them?
Clean all of the windows, including attics and basements.
Clean all wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs. Clean and
polish linoleum, tile, and wooden floors. Consider refinishing wood
floors if necessary.
polish all woodwork if necessary. Pay particular attention to the
kitchen and bath cabinets.
polish all of the light fixtures.
9. Be cautious about selecting colors when painting or replacing
carpeting. Your objective here is to make your home appeal to the
largest possible buying segment. Consider facts such as, how many of
the available buyers would be able to move into my house with their
own furniture and not have to replace the carpeting. Position your
home on the market to be as livable to as many people as possible,
and to allow the buyer to mentally picture the home as their own.
your personal taste, as the market is always demand driven! The
average buyer will have a hard time looking beyond blue carpeting
and bold wallpapers. Consider replacing unusual or bold colors with
neutral tones. Two coats of off-white paint may be the best
investment you could ever make.
(This involves creating the illusion of more space)
Arrange furniture to give the rooms as spacious a feeling as
possible. Consider removing furniture from rooms that are crowded.
If necessary, store large furniture.
collectibles - both to protect them, and to give the room a more
spacious feel. Leave just enough accessories to give the home a
personal touch. Dispose of unneeded items.
clutter, and make it a habit to pick up clothing, shoes, and
personal possessions each day for possible showings.
closets of off-season clothing and pack for the move. Organize them
to demonstrate the most efficient use of space. Leave as few items
on the floor or shelves as possible.
to create a sense of space. All drapes should be open. Turn on all
of the lights throughout the home.
16. A clean-smelling house creates a positive image in the
buyer's mind. Be aware of any odors from cooking, cigarettes, pets,
etc. that may have an adverse effect on potential buyers. Remember
that some people are much more sensitive to odors than others.
Smokers rarely notice the odor of tobacco that fills their homes,
and pet owners may be oblivious to objectionable doggy odor.
use products like carpet deodorizers, air fresheners, and room
deodorizers, but the best strategy is to remove the source of the
smell rather than cover it up.
Unfortunately, often the only way to remove the smell of pet urine
from flooring is to rip up the carpet and padding and replace them.
If this is preventing the sale of your home, don't hesitate to make
and cooking odors have permeated your home, have your carpets and
furniture cleaned, and air out or dry-clean your drapes.
odors are another no-no. Don't allow wet towels to accumulate in
hampers, or dirty laundry to pile up in closets.
offensive odors are removed, consider adding delightful ones. Recent
studies have shown that humans have strong, positive responses to
certain smells. Cinnamon, fresh flowers, breads baking in the oven
are all excellent ways to enhance your property for sale.
22. Study magazine ads or furniture showrooms to see how small
details can make rooms more attractive and appealing. A vase of
flowers, an open book on the coffee table, a basket of birch logs by
the fireplace, etc., are touches that can add a special effect and
make a difference in the room. Be careful not to over clutter.
23. The use of
a brightly colored pillow in a wing chair, or a throw blanket on a
couch can add dimension to a sterile room.
potentially offending views, but always let light into your rooms.
Replace heavy curtains with sheer white panels. Never apologize for
things you cannot change. The buyer will either decide to accept or
reject the property regardless of the words your say. Just present
the home in the best way possible with complete honesty.
25. Go through
your photo albums and select pictures of your house and yard during
all four seasons. If hung at eye level in a well-lighted area, the
pictures will speak for themselves and give you yet another selling
advantage of natural light as much as possible by cleaning windows,
opening shades and drapes, etc. Add lamps and lighting where
necessary. Be sure that all fixtures are clean and have working
light bulbs. Increase the wattage of the bulbs in the darker areas.
Check your home for any needed maintenance just as a buyer
would. Repaint or touch-up as necessary. You can't make a better
investment when you are selling your house. Don't let the outside
turn buyers off before the inside turns them on.
27. Color has
the power to attract. A tub of geraniums, a pot of petunias, or a
basket of impatiens on the front steps is a welcoming touch.
28. If you are
selling during the winter months, consider using a wreath of dried
flowers on the front door, or an attractive milk can on the porch.
29. If you
have a porch or deck, set the stage with pots of flowers and
attractively arranged furniture.
30. Check to
see that all doors and windows are in good working order. Give
special attention to your home's exterior doors and front entry.
Clean and paint doors if necessary. Remember that first impressions
are likely to color the remainder of the house tour.
31. Wash all
windows and replace any broken or cracked windowpanes.
should be free of any tears or holes.
all locks to ensure that they are functioning properly.
34. Check for
loose or missing shingles. Clean out gutters and down spouts. Touch
up peeling areas on gutters.
35. Invest in
a new doormat that says, "Welcome".
36. Make sure the yard is neatly mowed, raked and edged.
37. Prune and
shape shrubbery and trees to compliment your house.
adding seasonal flowers along the walks or in the planting areas.
Display plants in things such as a well-placed wheelbarrow, or an
old-fashioned washtub. Nasturtiums, petunias, impatiens, and verbena
are flowers that are easy to maintain if watered regularly. Try a
row of sweet smelling alyssum to line a short sidewalk, or plant
some perky dwarf marigolds to form a cheerful oasis of color in your
39. Add an
inch or two of bark mulch around your shrubs and trees.
40. Set up
your old badminton or volleyball net -- suggest a scene of family
41. It is
important to devote at least one area of your yard to outdoor
living. Buyers will still recognize a scene set with picnic table
and chairs and respond positively to it. Cover your picnic table
with a fringed, red-and-white checked cloth topped with some plastic
plates and glasses. Bring out the barbecuing equipment, and buyers
will almost smell the hot dogs cooking!
The driveway is no place for children's toys. Not only are
such things dangerous, the clutter is unsightly.
surface of your driveway should be beyond reproach, as it's one of
the first things a buyer will see when he drives up. Sweep and wash
the driveway and walks to remove debris, dirt and stains. Repair and
patch any cracks, edge the sides and pull up any weeds.
The Front Entry: Whether a graciously proportioned center-hall or a
small space just large enough for a coat rack and tiny table, this
part of your home deserves particular attention.
44. Study your
entry hall and ask yourself what kind of impression it makes of your
home. Dried flowers or a small plant can make a striking focal point
on a hall table any time of the year.
any entry hall will benefit from a well-placed mirror to enlarge the
46. Your entry
hall's flooring will be observed carefully by the prospective buyer.
Make sure the surface is spotless, and add a small rug to protect
the area during showings.
47. The entry
hall closet is usually the first one inspected, therefore it needs
to appear roomy. Add a few extra hangers. Hang a bag of cedar chips
or a pomander ball to give a pleasant, fresh scent. Remove all
Think of these areas as if they were furniture showrooms. Your job
is to make each room generate a positive response. Add touches that
make a room look truly inviting.
clean the fireplace. Place a few logs on the grate to create an
attractive appearance. You are welcome to have a fire going for
showings during the winter months, this creates a great atmosphere.
something colorful on the mantel, but don't make it look like a
country craft store.
the traffic flow by removing excess furniture. Have easy traffic
flow patterns. Be sure that all doors open fully and easily.
attention to exposed beams or a cathedral ceiling with special
lighting. Be sure to remove any cobwebs and dust.
oversized television sets if they dominate the room. If necessary,
substitute with a smaller one until you move.
The Dining Room:
Avoid going overboard to be effective. Any stage setting that you
create should reflect the character of your entire home
53. Set the
scene by setting the table with an attractive arrangement. Add fresh
or silk flowers as a centerpiece.
enlarge a small dining area. If your dining table has extra leaves,
take one or two out. Consider placing your dining table against a
wall, and remove any extra "company" chairs. Consider putting
oversized pieces in storage until your house is sold.
Pay particular attention to your kitchen as this room continues to
be the "heart of the home". A pleasant, working kitchen is near the
top of the list of priorities for most buyers, and is a room that is
Avoid clutter! Clean counters of small appliances and store whenever
possible to maximize the appearance of work spaces. Check the
counter top around your sink, and remove any detergent or cleanser
that may be cluttering the area.
cabinets, appliances and counter tops should be clean and fresh.
appliances should be absolutely clean, bright, sparkling, and shiny!
58. Clean off
the top of the refrigerator! If you must use that space for storage,
use baskets and bowls to camouflage the items kept there.
59. Set the
scene with an open cookbook, a basket filled with fruit, a basket of
silk flowers, or a ceramic mixing bowl and wire whisk.
60. Create the
aromas associated with happy homes! Bake some cookies from
pre-mixed, refrigerated cookie dough, start baking a loaf of
refrigerated bread dough, or pop a frozen apple pie in the oven. A
delightful kitchen aroma can be created with commercial potpourri
61. In the
heat of summer, place a bowl of lemons or limes on the counter to
provide a fresh and pleasant aroma.
62. Clean and
organize all storage space. If your cabinets, drawers, and closets
are crowded and overflowing, buyers assume that your storage space
is inadequate. Give away items you don't use, store seldom-used
items elsewhere, and reorganize the shelves. Neat, organized shelves
and drawers look larger and more adequate for prospective buyer's
cheerful kitchen windows are an advantage and should be highlighted
as a special feature of your home. Take a critical look at the
window treatment. Make sure it is clean, sharp and up-to-date. Do
the curtains need washing or the blinds need cleaning? Would the
window area look better without any window treatment?
64. If you
have a counter top eating area, set two attractive place settings
with coordinating napkins and place mats, and place cushions on the
65. Set the
table for an informal meal with bright place mats and a generous
bowl of fruit as a centerpiece.
A separate laundry room is a true asset and is one of the most
frequent requests that buyers make during a home search. Don't hide
this treasure behind closed doors. Spruce up the room and open the
door proudly for inspection.
66. Add a
fresh coat of paint or put up cheerful wallpaper.
all closets and storage areas
current with your laundry. Remove or store all dirty laundry in a
69. Clean and
polish the washer and dryer.
adding an attractive, coordinated throw rug.
Stairways should provide an
attractive transition from one level of your home to another.
Make sure the stairs are safe! Stair lighting should be more than
adequate, and stairs must be clutter free. Stair railings must be
tight and secure, and all runners or carpeting securely tacked.
Remove any items from the surface of the stairs and store elsewhere.
Check the condition of the walls, and paint or re-wallpaper if
72. If the
stairs are a focal point of the main living areas, carefully choose
accents to improve the visual appeal. If you have a wide, gracious
staircase, emphasize this feature by hanging a few pictures along
the wall. Draw attention to a handsome lighting fixture by polishing
the brass and dusting each small light bulb or crystal prism. Any
stair landing should also have an attractive focal point, be it a
fern on a plant stand, a dramatic poster, a chiming clock, or maybe
a special chair on a large stair landing. If the staircase is
narrow, fool the eye by minimizing clutter.
Imagine for a moment that you're in the 'bed and breakfast'
business. How would you change your home's bedrooms to appeal to a
paying lodger? Naturally you would make up the beds with your
prettiest sheets and comforters. Maybe you would add a vase of
flowers on the dressing table or a cozy armchair in the corner.
Every bedroom in your home should invite prospective buyers to
settle right in.
master bedrooms are particularly popular among today's homebuyers.
To make your bedroom appear larger, paint the room a light color,
remove excess furniture if the room is crowded, and minimize clutter
to maximize spaciousness. Aim for a restful, subdued "look".
74. A private
bathroom off the master bedroom is a real plus. Decorate to
coordinate with the color scheme of your bedroom, creating the
all buyers are looking for a house with plenty of closet space. Try
to make what you have appear generous and well planned. Remove and
store all out of season clothing. Remove any items from the floor
area, as this will make a closet seem more spacious. Arrange all
shelves to maximize the use of space.
76. Make sure
all articles in the closet are fresh and clean smelling. When
prospective buyers open your closet door, they should be greeted
with a whiff of fresh smelling air.
77. Make sure
all closet lights have adequate wattage and are operating. Add
battery operated lights to those closets that lack them. Lighted
closets look bigger, are more attractive, and allow buyers to
inspect the interiors easily.
78. Take the
time to explain the importance of marketing to your children.
Encourage them to participate in preparing your home for showing,
emphasizing the principle of appealing to the widest possible market
segment. Ask your children's cooperation in making their beds and
picking up their rooms prior to showings. Consider promising a
special reward if they willingly participate in your house-selling
79. Have them
pack up any items that are not currently in use and dispose of
80. Remove any
crowded, unusual, or personal wall hangings such as posters, and
store them until your home is sold.
Wise sellers take special pains with preparing their bathroom(s) for
scrutiny by strangers. The bathroom is a room after all, and a very
personal one. Prospects will inspect yours carefully, so be sure it
is immaculate. Cleanliness is the key! Make sure that all surfaces
worn or dirty shower curtains, clean and repair caulking, and remove
non-skid bath surface decals that are in poor condition.
82. Clear off
countertops and store all personal care products out of sight.
83. Repair any
faucets that leak or do not function properly. Clean off mineral
deposits with vinegar or commercial products.
84. Clean and
organize all cabinets and drawers. Check the medicine cabinets,
discard old prescriptions, and polish the shelves. The same goes for
the storage cabinet under the sink.
to appeal to a wide range of buyers. Play down dominate colors with
contrasting neutral colored towels and accessories. If your bathroom
is mostly white or neutral, add a few cheerful accents of color and
use towels in the popular new shades. Don't hesitate to buy a few
new towels or a rug, as you will be taking them with you to your new
86. Scrub and
wax an old floor. Cover the largest area you can with a freshly
washed scatter rug.
and personalize creating a pleasing, individual look. Consider
bringing out your best towels and perfumed guest soaps. Add a plant
for color and freshness.
88. A gentle
hint of fragrance in the air is fine, but keep it subtle.
89. Clean and organize the basement. Be sure that the stairs are
cleared, well lighted and that the handrail is secure. Remove and
dispose of any items that you will not be taking with you. Pack
other items neatly in boxes and arrange them neatly in the center of
the room so those basement walls can be inspected.
90. Make sure
your major systems such as the furnace and electrical service are
operating properly. If appropriate, vacuum out the furnace, and
install a clean filter.
91. A dark,
damp-smelling basement, will have trouble selling. Clean up mildew
stains, throw out any upholstered furniture that retains that musty
smell, and check the basement walls for high water marks. Many
basements are a turnoff simply because they're too dark. Increase
the wattage of your existing light bulbs, and if needed, install a
few more lights. Be sure, however, to disclose any problems with
your basement drainage system. Most states require that sellers list
adverse defects of material significance. This should be noted as
exceptions to the seller's warranties.
92. As a final
touch, take a damp cloth and wipe off any dust and grime from the
surface of your water heater and furnace. Apply a coat of wax when
you are finished.
93. Sweep and wash the floor to remove dirt and stains. Organize
tools, garden equipment, bicycles, etc. A clean, organized garage
94. If the
area is dark, add more light. If it is small, and accommodates only
one car, remove your car before buyers visit. An empty garage always
looks larger. If a two-car garage has very little extra room, remove
one of your cars so that buyers can make their inspection in
95. If the
basement is appropriate to use as a recreation area, set up your
ping - pong table (with balls and paddles as props), hang some
bright posters, put down an area rug, and you've transformed the
place into a teen retreat. Your setting does not need to be complete
and shouldn't cost a large amount. It's only meant to suggest
further possibilities to buyers.
96. Clear off
and organize the workbench in your basement and draw attention to it
as a sales feature. Make sure the lighting is excellent, and stage
the area as a comfortable place in which to work. Add a throw rug as
cushioning against the cement flooring.
Whether a high-ceiling room or a crawl space under the eaves for
storage, your attic area will be examined and should not detract
from the well-kept appearance of your house.
97. If your
attic is reached by a steep flight of stairs, be sure they are clear
of objects and well lit. If your attic space is reached by a folding
set of stairs that you pull from the ceiling, be sure the mechanism
is well oiled and there is adequate lighting.
98. Spruce up
your attic space, hide the mousetraps, and install bright lights. If
your attic does have windows, be sure to clean off grime and let in
as much light as possible. Clean as needed.
99. Get rid of
anything that you don't plan to move to your new home. Place
remaining stored material neatly in boxes and trunks, and position
away from the walls.
100. If the
attic is windowed and can be expanded under the current municipal
building codes, be sure to inform your prospective buyers of this
potential. Be sure to verify this information first.
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