As real estate professionals, we are invited into homes of all ages and price ranges. Often homeowners who purchased a home new or nearly new and have enjoyed living there for several years must sell the home for one reason or another. Sometimes they need to sell due to the empty-nest, a change in lifestyle or simply because it is time to move on to the next phase of their lives. Nonetheless, there is a period of “letting go” of the home and readying for their move.
- 1. De-clutter. One of the most important things a selling homeowner can do is de-clutter and remove their personal photographs from the rooms. This accomplishes two things: it begins the transition process for the sellers and it also allows potential buyers to better picture their family (belongings) in the home.
- 2. Maximize the space. Often homeowners have collected extra furniture by inheriting it or buying new furnishings and deciding that the old items were “too good” to throw out. The excess furnishings should be removed and stored elsewhere to allow free movement through the home and to maximize the size of the space. I cannot emphasize this enough–I’ve been in homes that you literally couldn’t walk through.
- 3. Deodorize. Make sure the home isn’t stale or smelly. Ask a friend or relative to “smell test” the home and be completely honest about the results. And when they are, don’t get mad! Fix it! If you have pets, make sure their beds are clean, food bowls cleared and the “evidence” in the yard has been picked up. If you have felines, don’t leave the litter box in an obvious open area and make sure it is as clean as possible. Pets are not the only source of odors in a home. Check for tobacco odors, check closed spaces, including closets and kitchen trash cans.
- 4. Call a professional. One of the things I see often is sellers who don’t want to spend money for servicing the heating, air conditioning and water heater. An issue that I see repeated in home inspection reports on older homes is the need for pans under the water heater. Installing a pan may be a larger-than-expected expense due to code changes/requirements. Ask a professional if you have questions.
- 5. Update. Lastly, wallpaper was widely used in homes built in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the wallpaper you loved when you bought the house in 1985 may still be serviceable, today’s home buyers are looking for more modern finishes in a home. If possible, remove and replace the wallpaper with freshly painted walls.
This may seem like a long list of “to-do’s” on a home you think is perfect, but your intent is to sell your home so you can move on. To do that, your home has to be #1 on the buyer’s list.