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7 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale


Posted on February 20th, 2018 at 4:09 PM
7 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale

As we sit in the dead of winter, it may seem like summer is never coming back; but in reality, it’s right around the corner. While the weather might make you feel unmotivated, it can also provide you with a surplus of time to start prepping your house for sale.

Do some early spring cleaning and you’re instantly giving yourself a stronger foothold in the market. To help you increase your chances of a successful sale, we’ve provided seven ways to spruce up your house for listing.

1.    Simplify and Declutter

Pause for a moment and think about how much “stuff” has accumulated in every room of your house. From the collage of family photos on the wall to the dust magnets we call knickknacks, we collect far more bric-a-brac than any potential homebuyer needs to see.

This brings us to our first piece of advice: “Number one, declutter” says Natalie Washburn, Broker and Owner of Maleno, a premier custom building, real estate, and property management company. “When I say declutter, I mean get rid of anything you wouldn’t use in your daily living.”

The idea is simple: you want your potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the home, not necessarily you and your family. For that reason, ditch the hundreds of books that may have accumulated on your bookshelf (perhaps keep a few for aesthetics), take down family photos, and pack up your knick knacks.

“Make it look clean and fresh, the less stuff the better,” Washburn reminds sellers. However, this rule doesn’t just apply to small items. “Furniture is a big deal. I tell people the less furniture the better. Put extra couches and chairs in the basement, in storage, or if you know you’re going to give it away to a family member later, just give it away now.”

2. Start the Moving Process Early

Even if you plan on moving in the summer, start the moving process now. “The more things in your home, the less space is available,” Washburn says. When it comes to what’s in your house during a showing, it’s really about quality over quantity. “You want to keep things simple and tasteful.” 

3. Focus on Symmetry

Everyone from photographers to architects know that symmetry is aesthetically pleasing, and yet we often forget to implement such a simple concept in our own home. However, when it’s time to list your house, it’s time to remember your geometry.

“I like to focus on symmetry when placing things around the room,” says Washburn. “If you’re placing pillows on a couch, make sure they’re symmetrical. Put one on one side and on the other.”

4. Lighten Up

“Dark rooms are unattractive,” notes Washburn. “If you know a room has a weak overhead light, go out and buy a ten dollar lamp and put it on an end table. Just make sure your décor is appealing and bright.”

In her book, Language of Houses: How Building Speak to Us, Author Alison Lurie writes that, “Whether it is achieved through painting the walls white or putting high-watt bulbs in the electrical fixtures, the room that is full of light after the sun goes down, or on a cloudy day, encourages a positive attitude.”

On the other hand, Lurie also asserts that “an ill-lit room has the opposite effect… It can produce suspicion, uncertainty, and feelings of being alone in a crowd.” The lesson is clear: make sure each room has ample lighting.

“Any light is better than no light, that’s for sure,” affirms Washburn. Moreover, if the house needs a fresh coat of paint, stick to bright neutral colors like tan, cream, white, or grey.

5. The Sale is In the Details

You definitely want light, so open up your drapes and/or blinds and let some sunshine it. Just be sure that your windows are clean. “People forget that cleanliness goes a long way,” asserts Washburn. “Get some Windex out and clean those windows.”

She also recommends doing a double check in your kitchen to wipe the face of your cabinets, dusting trim, and removing hard water stains from any faucets. “Little things can go a long way,” Washburn adds.

Flowers are also a great touch to any home. A fresh aromatic bouquet or a nice potted plant can make the house feel more homey and natural. In fact, Nursery & Garden Industry reports that greenery has a significant effect on mood. When plants were placed in an office (of course we know your home isn’t an office, but the effect remains similar) employees showed a:

  • 30% reduction in confusion
  • 37% reduction in anxiety
  • 38% reduction in fatigue
  • 44% reduction in anger
  • 58% reduction in depression

6. Clean Up After Our Furry Friends

Most of us love a fuzzy friend to cohabitate with, but when it comes to making a sale, our pets can be our downfall. Washburn recommends hiding the food dishes and litter boxes. The last thing you want is the potential buyer to start imaging how often your dog or cat had an accident around the house… and then there is the odor.

“Pet odors are a big one,” declares Washburn. “Febreze, vacuum, clean, dust, and be sure the litter boxes are cleaned out.” Washburn does caution sellers about burning candles to cover up smells.

While they do make a nice ambience, there is always the risk of the homeowner or Realtor forgetting to extinguish the flame. However, if you do use candles, stick to fresh scents like eucalyptus, mint, or linen. Steer clear of anything too fruity or musky as to not offend prospective home buyers.

7. Shovel Your Snow

If you’re going to show your house during the winter and early spring, be sure to keep your driveway and walk clear of snow and well-salted. “If I walk up to a listing that hasn’t been shoveled or plowed in weeks, that’s a turn off to me right there,” admits Natalie. “That might mean they don’t care about the house and no one is taking care of the property. Show [the buyer] you care about the property.”

Beyond snow removal, be sure to take care of any shrubs or bushes that are making the entry way look shabby. If you have piles of dead leaves or sticks showing through the snow, rake the yard and dispose of the debris.

When You’re Ready To Sell

We know how stressful selling a home can be and how much there is to do in preparation for listing, which is why we’re here to help. If you’re looking for a Realtor that will maximize your sale price, click here to contact Maleno or call us today at (814) 833-6516.