Getting your home ready to sell
There are several factors to consider when getting your home ready to sell. Simple and often forgotten things can make a big difference.
Air Quality, Odour, Pets & Holiday Decorations
These everyday items can make an impact on a potential buyer. Buyers want to envision themselves living in the house; it can be difficult to do this if the home is not presented in a manner that allows them to do so easily.
Check for mold, mildew or water damage and have it repaired.
Depending on what year your house was built, have it checked for asbestos and lead paint.
Inspect your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector. Replace them if they are not working. If you do not have these items, install them before you list your home.
Avoid cooking with strong spices or foods that have lingering smells.
Scented products are fine, but avoid using too many. If potential buyers see room deodorizers in every room, they may wonder if you are trying to cover up an unpleasant odour.
Remove your pets while your home is being shown. If your pets must stay in the house during a showing, do your best to hide them or keep them out of the way. Having so many unknown people through your home can be difficult for your pets, so keeping them out of the way can also minimize their stress.
Remove any signs of your pets. Put away food and water dishes, toys, litter boxes and leashes. Keep the litter box out of sight and clean it daily.
If your home is for sale during a holiday, decorate using simple and tasteful items.
Remove holiday-specific items in a timely manner once the holiday is over.
Curb Appeal - Front, back & side yards
The exterior of your home speaks volumes to a potential buyer about how the rest of your home is maintained. A quick drive-by or seeing photos of your home will create a lasting impression on a potential buyer, so show them how much you care for your property. An attractive exterior can entice a buyer to view the rest of the home.
Make a list of major repairs. This list can include roofing, siding, lighting and cracks in the driveway or foundation. Repair as many of these items as you can.
Make a list of minor repairs. This list can include painting, minor landscaping and small holes or dents in walls. Repair as many of these items as you can.
Keep walkways, driveways, patios and decks clean and free of snow or other debris. Salt all walkways/driveways in the winter.
Maintain front, back and side yards. Mow the lawn, prune shrubs and trees, weed flower or garden beds, rake leaves in the fall.
Adding flowers or seasonal arrangements to your front porch can make your home feel more welcoming.
Promptly remove any seasonal lights or decorations.
Depersonalizing is an important and often difficult step in the selling process. Having made the decision to move, you will have to commit to removing your identity from the house. You will have to let go emotionally and focus on turning your home into a place where another family will be able to see themselves living. Disconnecting yourself will allow potential buyers to feel that this could be their next home.
- Remove personal and family photos
- Remove memorabilia, sporting trophies, models of cars, airplanes or space ships, collectible dishes, figurines or toys. Remove hunting trophies - this can be a very polarizing issue and may deter potential buyers.
- Start packing your collections or other valuable items that you don't want on display. While the majority of people are honest, don't risk having something important go missing.
- Start packing books or music that may not appeal to others.
- Pack any items that others may find offensive or disagreeable.
- Keep children's toys and games organized and put away.
Buyers want homes that are move-in ready, so flooring can be important when getting your home real to sell. The condition of the flooring can reveal how well the home has been maintained, so up-to-date flooring can be a top selling feature.
- Have your carpets professionally cleaned, especially if they are looking worn or dirty.
- If the carpets are old, damaged or out of date ('70s shag, anyone?) consider replacing them.
- Consider what rooms you will be putting carpet into. This will help you decide what kind of carpet will go best in each room.
- If you have vinyl flooring, consider its condition. Are there cracks or missing corners? Vinyl is a versatile material and many different looks can be created - including slate, ceramic and stone - without breaking your pocket book.
- If you have hardwood flooring, consider its condition. Is it under the carpet? Have it refinshed if possible.
Furniture Placement & Lighting
Furniture placement can help display the full potential of a particular room, so mind the flow of traffic through the space and try to visualize what a potential buyer will think when walking through the room. Lighting is also important to consider when getting your home ready to sell. Turn on all the lights for pictures and showings. Having properly placed furniture and lighting will show off the prime features of your home and allow buyers to see the full potential of each room.
- Take a look at how much furniture is in each room. Having too much can make a room look small, and having too little can make it look uninviting. Remove over-sized pieces that make the room look small.
- Arrange the furniture to allow good traffic flow from room to room.
- Take a look at the furniture itself. Is it worn or outdated? If you can afford it, consider buying a few new pieces. Another option is to rent furniture while your home is on the market.
- Make sure there is ample lighting in each room. Consider adding a small lamp in dark corners.
- Take a look at the light switches in each room. How old are they? Consider replacing them with new ones, or even dimmer switches.
- Consider replacing fixtures that are old or in poor condition.
Having your home inspected before listing can alert you to possible issues that may affect the sale. This will help you determine what your next step will be. When deciding if you should have your home inspected, here are a few things to consider:
- Do any lights flicker? Do you have fuses or breakers that frequently blow?
- Does your home have a fuse box or electrical panel?
- What kind of wiring is in your home? Is it aluminum or knob and tube?
- What condition is your plumbing in?
- Does your toilet run? Does the tank leak?
- What kind of pipes does your home have?
Furnace & Hot Water Tank
- How old is your furnace? When did you last have it serviced?
- How often do you replace the furnace filters?
- How old is your hot water tank? When did you last have it serviced?
- Do you have a water softener?
- Is your roof in good condition? When was it last replaced? Are there any shingles missing or broken? Is there moss growing anywhere on the roof?
- What is the condition of your home's foundation? Are there any cracks?
- What is the condition of the siding? Does it look outdated or dingy?
- What condition is the deck or patio in? Is it safe for people to walk on?
Main Selling Rooms
To ensure that your home gives the best possible first impression, your main selling rooms should look exceptionally enticing to potential buyers; these are the rooms they will focus on!
- How do other rooms look from the front entrance? They should look presentable and inviting.
- Do your best to create a spacious entry.
- Put away everyday items that can contribute to clutter - shoes, jackets, keys, backpacks.
- Keep your kitchen looking clean and crisp. Put away clean dishes and keep the sink clean and dry. If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, run some lemon rind through it to keep it smelling fresh.
- If your kitchen needs some updating, decide what needs to be done to make it look more inviting.
- Paint your cupboards or update appliances/hardware if necessary.
- Show potential buyers that they can easily entertain in the living by making it look inviting.
- Give the room a focal point and position your furniture to highlight it.
- Consider any necessary repairs or upgrades.
- Do you have a fireplace? Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned or serviced if it has been a while.
- Make sure the room shows its function. Remove anything that distracts from it, for instance, craft projects, school books, etc...
- Position the furniture to show how easily dining and entertaining can be done.
- Check for any necessary repairs.
- Change lightbulbs, replace any missing pieces from chandeliers, clean ceiling fans.
Main Floor Family Room or Great Room
- Show the function of the room. This is a room where the everyone gets together for family time, so make it comfortable and inviting.
- Position the furniture for good traffic flow.
- Check for any repairs that can be made. Are there any stains or tears on the carpet? Are there any scuffs or dents on the wall?
- Create a calming atmosphere in the room.
- Create space by positioning the furniture so you can move around it easily.
- The bed is the focal point of the room, so display it well.
- Make any necessary repairs.
Bathrooms & Ensuite
- Clear away clutter and personal grooming products.
- Set out clean linens.
- Make sure the sinks are clean and dry.
- Make and necessary repairs.
Most buyers want a home that is move-in ready, and painting can be an added expense that some may not be willing to make. If your home is full of bright or unusual colors, potential buyers may lose interest or feel that they can further negotiate the asking price. Neutral colors can be much more inviting and pleasing to the eye.
- How long has it been since you painted last? If it has been more than five years, think about painting.
- Give your home a thorough look and decide whether it has a warm tone or a cool tone. Take into consideration your furniture, book shelves, paintings and other artwork.
- Choose paint in neutral tones that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. Select tones and colors that are restful to the eye and create the right kind of ambiance in each room.
- Consider removing wallpaper if it is old or torn.
- Doors and trim can be freshened up with a coat of paint.
- Repair holes and cracks in walls and ceilings.
- Consider painting the ceiling so the whole room looks refreshed.
Updates & Repairs
Taking an objective look at your home can help you determine what updates and repairs are needed. Developing a timeline and budget can also help you determine what should be done to improve your home's overall presentation. Most buyers want homes that are move-in ready; they don't want a home that requires a lot of work. Many are willing to pay a bit more for a house that has been well maintained, so show them how much you have cared for it.
- Create a list of needed repairs.
- Create a budget and timeline to complete the repairs.
- Are there any updates you have been putting off that need to be completed?
- Repair and replace even tiny items - lightbulbs, floor vents, door handles, etc...
- What condition are your windows in?
- What condition are your permanent light fixtures in?
- What is the condition of your doors and trim? Look at interior doors as well as exterior.
- Repair holes and cracks in walls.
- Kitchens and bathrooms will usually provide the best return on your investment, so keep this in mind if your home needs significant updates.