Keep in mind the importance of a buyer's first impression. You only get one chance to make that impression. The curb appeal that your home offers a prospective buyer is extremely important. Generally, paying close attention to the following guidelines for preparing your home for showings will help your home sell quicker and for more money.
Start in the Front Yard
It's impossible to over-emphasize the importance of curb appeal. Make sure the landscaping and lawn are neatly trimmed, and any loose sticks or debris are picked up. Fertilize if necessary, and always remove ice and snow from steps and sidewalks during the winter. Consider adding potted flowers for an extra boost and make sure the driveway and any walking paths are clean and clear of debris or trip hazards.
A Welcoming Front Door
Again, it's one of the first things a prospective buyer sees. Make sure your door is clean, and paint it if necessary. A seasonal decoration, such as a wreath, adds an inviting touch.
This is the most important step. Make sure everything sparkles, from the hardwood floors and crystal-clear windows to the kitchen countertops and toilets. Don’t forget the smaller details, either, such as taking out all the trash, doing a final dusting of the fireplace mantel and making sure all bath toiletries are tucked away.
Wear and Tear?
Minor imperfections that we often overlook in our own homes tend to turn prospective buyers off. Faded and scraped walls; damaged trim; things that are loose, leaky, sticky, or squeaky; or any other minor quirks should be restored to good condition. A little paint and furniture polish can go a long way in increasing the appeal of your home.
Buyers have a hard time looking past clutter, but removing clutter is an absolute necessity before showings. By removing items that you seldom use, you let people see the space your home has to offer. Fluff your throw pillows, fold and store blankets and make sure all shoes are stored neatly in the closet. Items such as paperwork and toys should be put away, and stairways should be clean and free of clutter as well.
Don’t Forget About Closets
It can be tempting to simply throw everything into a closet before a showing. Doing so certainly declutters the home, but don’t think for a second prospective buyers will simply walk past closets without opening them. The amount of storage space a home offers can be a pivotal selling point for buyers, and clean, organized closets are an indicator of whether or not a home has enough storage space.
Be smart about what you cook the night before or morning of a showing. That broccoli is certainly good for you and the bacon tasty, but the lingering smell might turn off others. The same goes for candles or air fresheners. Smells are just like tastes in that everyone’s is different, so try to be as neutral as possible and think ahead so you’re not scrambling to cover up a smell at the last minute.
Highlight Key Areas: Kitchens and Bathrooms
Kitchens are traditionally a big selling point, so make sure yours sparkles. Put away all pots and pans, and make sure your sink and stove are as shiny as possible. If your oven could use a cleaning, take care of it ASAP. Clean the interior of your dishwasher, making sure to remove any stains, especially on the door. Make sure the countertops are clean enough to eat on and free of clutter. Clean out your kitchen cabinets, packing away unnecessary items.
Bathrooms are also important and, like kitchens, often areas where cleaning can be the most difficult. All tile, grout, glass, and linoleum should be clean and free of soap scum, mildew, and stains. Fixtures should be free of water marks and polished. Set out freshly folded, unused towels. If there is a window in your bathroom, open it to allow a fresh breeze to flow through. A small potted plant or herb like rosemary can do wonders to freshen your bathroom and make it more inviting.
Remove Yourself (and Your Family)
Obviously, you won’t physically be present for the showing. Neither should any of your personal items. You want prospective buyers to picture themselves calling this house home, so remove all family photos and other items such as children’s artwork or report cards. Most people like dogs, but they distract attention, so try to keep your pet out of the way during showings.
Open It Up
You can make it easier for prospective buyers and agents to walk through by rearranging the furniture or removing other large items that hinder sight lines and might make the space appear smaller than it is. Clean windows and open draperies highlight your walls and ceilings. By letting in natural light, you are letting buyers see how bright and cheery your home can be.
Step Into Their Shoes
This might be difficult, but try walking through the home as if you’re the prospective buyer. What looks good? Bad? Does anything negative catch your eye or seem out of place? You won’t catch everything but chances are, if something doesn’t look right to you it definitely won’t look right to others.
Keep it Ready to Go
Hey, life happens! But try to keep your home as show ready as possible so you’re always prepared for any unexpected showings. After all, the more showings your home receives, the more likely it will get sold, and sold quickly.