This list is not all-inclusive, but the tips below are what I’ve picked up along the way when it comes to getting your home market-ready. Spring is known in the real estate business as the “magic time”. Home purchases tend to happen more often in spring and summer. Buying a bigger home to fit your growing family will almost always involve selling your current home. Check out the punch list below to get your home market ready in record time!
Declutter. Declutter. Declutter.
Throw away trash, old receipts you don’t need and items that are not worthy for donation. Spend time going through all items in each room, closet, cabinet and drawer in your home. It can seem overwhelming, so you may want to attack one room at a time. I chose one night to declutter and clean up bathroom cabinets and drawers. It took me an hour and the difference was spectacular. Make a pile for donations and a pile for storage. If you have items that can’t be stored in the attic or another space for free, you may have to rent a storage space or a storage pod. You want to clear out as many unnecessary items as possible. This includes clothing. Since our home is on the market in spring, our winter clothing and hunting gear went to storage along with toys and other items we don’t need right now. Decluttering will set you up for success when you stage your home.
This is an inexpensive “upgrade” for your home. Choose a nice neutral color that isn’t too dark. A lighter, neutral color on the walls will make the space seem larger than it is. If possible, paint your entire home the same color. It makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves moving in without having to deep clean, make repairs or paint first. My favorite interior color for homes is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. It’s a classic neutral. Make sure the front door has a fresh coat of paint or stain on it. Paint your shutters if they haven’t been painted in a while or they are starting to fade. We painted ours black, and they complement the dark green trim around our front door and dark green color of our garage door. As for indoors, if your home is truly lived in, you will most likely need to touch up the baseboards and trim. Make sure to match the paint you buy to the color of the baseboards and trim now. It won’t take long to complete these touch ups. It took me about 1 ½ hours one evening painting baseboards and touching up trim. I made sure to paint all baseboards in both bathrooms and our kitchen as that is where most of the wear and tear occurs in a home.
Organize your home
Use cute storage bins, trays and baskets in cabinets and drawers to keep your essentials out of sight and off of countertops. I found really great storage buckets, organization bins and trays at Dollar Tree and Five Below. Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. Remember, a place for everything and everything in its place. It will be easier to organize and “hide” items around your home after you declutter.
Clean the house from top to bottom, inside and out
Wipe down, scrub and clean everything. This includes walls, light fixtures, baseboards, doors, door frames, windows and window frames. If you are lucky enough to have help from family and friends, have a cleaning party. Have your husband, dad, brother or hired honey-do professional pressure wash the house, the fence, the patio, driveway and sidewalks in front of your home. Two days before our home was photographed for our listing, my mom came over and helped me clean everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. The house sparkled and all I had to do come picture day was quickly mop the floors again and stage.
Stage Your Home
You want to make sure your home appeals to a broad range of potential buyers. This means you need to stage your home – decorate and position furniture and accessories to make your home visually attractive. If you have no clue where to start or how to decorate your home to make it market ready, I suggest hiring a staging company. Staging companies are usually comprised of interior designers who work with home owners, realtors and contractors to stage homes that are being put on the market. Some staging companies offer different levels of service. The most basic service offered is a walk-through. A stager will come to your home, walk through each room with you and give suggestions on how to optimize the space and make your home look its best. A walk-through will last about an hour. It can be overwhelming, so be sure to take note of all recommendations and ask any questions that pop into your head. This service can run around $100 but is worth it when your house sells in 1-3 months with an offer close to asking price instead of sitting on the market for 4-6 months before you ever get a low-ball offer.
Staging doesn’t have to be over the top. Make sure you have accents to complete your home. This can range from a towel and bar of soap set just right on your bathtub to a bowl of lemons and limes on your kitchen counter with nothing else there. I also staged our patio table for the realty photos, setting a red tray with aqua glasses and a bottle of sparkling water on it. It gives the space an inviting, “come on in and imagine yourself living here” feel. I picked up a few accessories for our home at Marshalls, Ross and TJ Maxx. I even checked a local staging company’s Instagram account for inspiration when staging for our listing photographs. Staging doesn’t have to be expensive, and you may already have some items in your home you can repurpose for staging. Check your closets first, then do the shopping. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.
The toughest part of putting your home on the market is maintaining the cleanliness and organization. Each evening, I make sure dishes are clean, counter tops are wiped down and clothing and towels are picked up off bedroom and bathroom floors. Each morning, I make beds and pick up anything my toddler or husband may have taken out. Maintaining also includes our yard. Each afternoon, while my son is playing, I check our fountains’ water levels, remove any bugs from said fountains and check the yard for any rogue dog poop in the front and back yards. Every couple of days, I water my flowerbeds with MiracleGro and pull weeds. My husband is in charge of mowing the lawn and weed eating.
If I get notified that someone wants to see our home that day, I know that I can run home and in 30 minutes or less vacuum, pass a Swiffer duster and set out staging items in bathrooms, the kitchen and the patio. The really tough part are the weekends. Keeping your home clean enough while “living” there is hard. Doing that with a toddler who loves to play with ALL of his toys and just so happens to be in the midst of potty training is harder. It is challenging to say the least. Especially when said toddler poops his training pants and proceeds to smear it on your patio walls and glass door. Needless to say, Clorox and rubber gloves are never far away. Keeping up with small cleaning tasks each day makes it easier to agree to last minute showing requests.