If you’re mentally gearing up for the process of selling your home, you may be wondering what you can do to attract prospective buyers and, more importantly, get a solid offer at or above your asking price. While not every home will appeal to every buyer — a luxury estate in Windermere won’t even be on the short list for a young couple looking for a downtown Orlando condo, for example — there are several tried-and-true strategies for increasing your home’s “curb appeal” and overall presentation, making it more likely that your drive-by visitors call for an appointment and make an offer once they’ve come for a look.
Stand on the street outside of your home. What do you notice? Look at it as a first-time visitor, not as a homeowner with memories and experiences tied to every paint scratch and crack in the pavement. Here are some areas that might not occur to you:
- Consider replacing the numbers on the home and/or mailbox for a fresh look.
- Check all of the landscaping. Is the sidewalk edged? Are there weeds in the flower beds or around the trees? If you usually do the yard work, it may be worth hiring a professional landscaping company for a few weeks, to make sure that your property stays neat and trimmed while you’re in the process of selling your home.
- Make sure that any toys, sports equipment, and other non-essentials aren’t lying in the yard. You want your prospective buyer to be able to picture themselves in your home — and to be able to walk in the house without tripping!
- If it’s been awhile since you’ve swept or power washed your driveway, sidewalk, and entryway, add it to your list.
- Give your windows and front door a good cleaning.
- As you look at the exterior of the home, talk with your real estate agent at The Property Source if you spot any areas that might require major repairs (like missing shingles, cracked paint, etc.) — to determine if you should fix these items before your first home showing.
Moving on to the inside of your home, this is where you might want to take a deep breath before you get started. The main focus of preparing your home’s interior for showings is this: just like the outside, you want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves in the home. What does this mean for you?
First, don’t go crazy trying to redecorate or remodel. You’ll spend a lot of money that probably won’t result in an increased selling price. If the carpets are old or the walls need a more updated paint color, you can always offer a credit for those items as part of the listing. Your agent will help you make those decisions.
Second, you might want to decrease the quantity of personal items that are out on display. So, pack up the family photographs and stow your yoga mat in the closet (or better yet, start packing for your upcoming move when you get a great offer from an eager buyer by putting the boxes in the garage, a storage unit, etc.). Again, prospective buyers want to picture themselves in “their” home, so making it look less like your home definitely helps.
Tips for a buyer-attractive interior:
- Fix or replace anything that gives the impression of a home in disrepair. If you’ve got lots of broken tiles in the kitchen or a cracked bannister leading to the second floor, it’s worth the money to take care of them.
- Time to tidy up! Scrub the handprints off the walls and remove any grease and grime from the backsplash in the kitchen. Floors should be swept / mopped / vacuumed as appropriate. Definitely remove any clutter on countertops or on floors (even if you have to throw it all into a box to sort later).
- Pay particular attention to the bathroom. No one likes to see a drain clogged with hair or a grimy toilet (gross!). If you’ve got a leaky faucet or a shower nozzle that doesn’t work quite right, take care of it.
- If your closets are stuffed from side-to-side and top-to-bottom, they’ll give the impression of not having enough room. It’s a great time to donate that sweater you haven’t worn since 2002 or the jeans that are probably not going to fit again anytime soon. Again, you can start packing for your move, relocating items to storage, or Marie Kondo anything that doesn’t spark joy.
- Straighten up your storage areas. If you’ve been using that three-car garage as your catch-all place for everything from extra furniture to your collection of license plates, it’s another area that should be decluttered, tidied up, and prepped for your moving day.
- Look at how much furniture is in each room, and take out anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. You want people walking through to feel that each room has ample space, walkways are clear, and there’s an open flow for traffic.
Tips for Occupied vs. Unoccupied Homes
If you’ve already moved into your new home, it’s much easier to make sure that the house you’re selling is always showing-ready. Until closing day when everything transfers over to the new owners, you’ll need to keep all of the utilities on. We recommend that you keep the AC set to 78°, in order to prevent mold and to keep the house at a comfortable temperature when prospective buyers are on tour. If your home has had many showings — maybe you’ve recently had an open house — it’s a good idea to go over surfaces with a duster, vacuum / mop / sweep and wipe down bathrooms as needed, to get it back to top shape for further showings.
What if you’re still living in the home? Especially if you have kids or pets (or even less-than-neat partners!), it can be nerve-wracking getting a call saying that a real estate agent would like to show the house — in 15 minutes! While you might be tempted to ask them to come back at another time, we recommend that you do everything you can to accommodate all requested appointments. You don’t want your ideal buyer to check out another house in the neighborhood and decide to buy it, just because you weren’t ready for them to see your home!
Here are your “Ready? Set? Go!” tips for showing the home you’re still living in:
- Turn on the lights. A brightly-lit home feels comfortable and safe, and the real estate agent showing the home shouldn’t have to hunt for the right light switch in each room.
- Do a quick sweep of every room. Is there dirty laundry on the bedroom floor? Crumbs on the kitchen table? An overflowing trash can in the bathroom? You don’t have time for a thorough cleaning, so just try to touch up the easy-to-do, more noticeable spots.
- If possible, leave! Your prospective buyers and their real estate agent will be able to talk more freely if they’re not worried about being overheard. Load up the car with your family members — including pets, if you can — and go for a drive until you get the all-clear.
- If it’s not possible to leave the house, offer your guests a quick greeting and choose a room to stay in — or better yet, hang out on the back deck with your kids and pets. You want to give the touring agent and their clients as much space as possible to see all of the features of your home (including those decluttered rooms and freshly-tidied counters!), discuss options, and hopefully come in with an offer right away.