Selling Your Home: First Steps

When putting your home on the market yourself, you need to think like a salesperson and make your home as attractive as possible to your potential buyers. Here are some tips for prepping your house for the market:

Limit traces of your pets: No litter boxes, no pet hair and no pet odors. Use a special “kids and pets” carpet and upholstery cleaner. Consider leaving your pet with a friend or boarding service when potential buyers will be visiting.

Keep bathrooms pristine: Make sure to have clean towels out, all personal products and medications tucked away, and touch up the grout between any tile work.

Get rid of clutter: Stow away your personal items, collections, piles of back issues of Cat Fancy, spare electrical equipment and kids’ toys. If your rooms are full of stuff, put some of your things in a storage facility. Your rooms will look roomier and brighter with less clutter.

Don’t throw it all in the closets: Potential buyers will, indeed, be looking into your closets to see what kind of storage space the house offers. If you’ve shoveled all your clutter in there, it won’t look very roomy.

Make the kitchen an inviting space: Clear off countertops to avoid a cluttered look and to give the illusion of a larger room. Keep sink, counters, floor and refrigerator clean. Remember, people may be opening the fridge and seeing what’s lurking inside. Finally, no dirty dishes!

Think about smells: Place inconspicuous containers of baking soda in areas of the house that may tend to get smelly. Don’t use strong-smelling air fresheners as many people are allergic to these scents and they can quickly become overwhelming. And then there’s the oldest trick in the book: store a few rolls of cookie dough in the freezer and when visitors are coming by, throw a tray of cookies in the oven, share them with guests (or don’t) and enjoy the smell of fresh baked treats the rest of the day.

Think light and bright: Keep a vase of fresh flowers at the entrance and another on the dining room or kitchen table. Pull back the drapes to let in natural light, replace any burned out light bulbs, and turn on lights and lamps when visitors are arriving. If it’s a dreary winter day, light a fire in the fireplace.

No safety hazards: Be careful to move all objects that people could trip on from the stairs and hallways. Have no extension cords or other electrical cables in a place they could be a tripping hazard. If you think families with children will be visiting, consider inserting electrical plug protectors and keeping all cleaning products in upper cabinets.

The exterior is the first impression: Keep your lawn, garden and hedges well maintained and watered. Consider planting some new flowers at the entryway. If your showing the house in the winter, show visitors pictures of the house during the spring when the garden is in bloom. Touch up your house’s exterior paint job if there is any sign of flaking or peeling.

Take advice from the professionals: Hire a real estate professional to walk through the house and give an evaluation of what could be done to increase the attractiveness of your home to potential buyers. And improve your house’s chances on the market by listening to real estate agents’ suggestions when they come through to visit – consider it free consulting service!

Inform your visitors: Choose a place by the front door where you can leave important flyers, forms and information for your guests. Also, leave a box or tray where visiting real estate professionals can leave their business cards.

Get a home inspection: Most buyers will have a home inspection done anyway, so take care of it on your end right away. This will reveal any repairs or upgrades that need to be made before putting your house up for sale. Professional inspectors will typically charge around $300 for a basic home inspection.  

  • Written by: M Spatz
  • Monday, 23 January 2012