Preparing Your House for Sale

When preparing your house for sale, it is often necessary to make changes that will highlight the best features of a home. This practice, called home staging, highlights the features of a home and makes it appealing to a broad base of buyers by reducing clutter, updating to a more broadly-applicable style, and minimizing eyesores or highly-personalized decoration that may hide the home's broader appeal. These steps often make the home more desirable and easier to sell. Preparing your house for sale through staging can include painting, landscaping, decorating, and renting furniture if necessary.

Homeowners can hire a professional stager, which usually costs a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, or complete the task themselves. A properly staged home not only has dcor that is appealing to buyers, but may also increase the sale price.

Preparing your house for sale may not be as difficult as it seems. Here are some tips for staging your home.

Pack up unnecessary items. To make a home appear more spacious, it may be necessary to remove excess furniture, especially old furniture in disrepair. Packing up big furniture will also make it easier for a buyer to notice important features of the house, such as the fireplace, a window seat, or an extra nook space in a bedroom. Consider storing the items in a storage unit rather than in the garage.

De-clutter. One of the easiest ways to prepare a house for sale is to de-clutter. This simple means storing, throwing away, or donating unused items. De-cluttering helps the buyer focus on the home instead of on the mess. Simple ways to de-clutter include:

  • Removing unworn clothing from closets
  • Clearing off kitchen and bathroom countertops
  • Getting rid of knick-knacks
  • Packing away books
  • Organizing cabinets
  • Removing magnets and other items from the exterior of the refrigerator

De-personalize the space. Most people personalize a space by displaying family photos. Photos can easily distract buyers and make it more difficult for a buyer to imagine living in the home. Packing away photos will make the space more attractive to homebuyers.

Clean your home. The least expensive way to stage a home is to clean it.

  • Clean dirt and grime in bathrooms and the kitchen
  • Dust the furniture
  • Have the carpets cleaned
  • Wash the inside and outside of windows
  • Get rid of cobwebs
  • Re-caulk showers and tubs
  • Hide the cat litter box
  • Use air fresheners or candles to freshen the air
  • Paint old, dingy interior walls with a neutral color

Make repairs. Before listing a home, make necessary repairs. The law requires a seller to inform a buyer of any known physical problems with the home. In all likelihood, unless the buyer is willing to purchase the home "as-is," the buyer will request the seller to make certain repairs anyway. It is better to address problems like a leaky roof, a structural problem, or termite issues before selling the home. A home without major problems is always more appealing to buyers.

Give your home curb appeal. Preparing your house for sale isn't limited to the indoor space. The outside of a home is important too. In fact, an unappealing exterior can drive potential buyers away from the home even before viewing the interior. A well-landscaped yard will add value and bring buyers into the home. Simple fixes include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Trimming bushes
  • Planting colorful flowers in pots or in the ground
  • Repainting areas where the paint has chipped

Check for safety hazards. A homeowner must keep homebuyers safe from injury. It is a homeowner's duty to warn invited guests of known dangers and to inspect the property for dangerous conditions. Because many homebuyers will view the home, a homeowner should eliminate potential hazards by checking the home for the following:

  • Electrical hazards
  • A slippery walkway
  • Broken steps
  • Dangerous areas in a yard

If a potential hazard exists, it is best to fix it, remove it, or to isolate the area from use.

Lock away expensive items. Most people that view your home are interested in buying a home. In rare circumstances, however, some visitors use open houses and home showings as a way to scout out a home to burglarize later or to steel valuable property. Beware of suspicious activity, such as a visitor that asks probing questions about your marital status or your schedule or visitors that use distraction to keep you occupied while someone else looks for valuable items in the house.

There are several ways to help lessen the chance of theft:

  • Keep valuable items, such as cash, debit cards, checkbooks, and credit cards, close by or stored in a safe place
  • Remove valuable items from accessible drawers
  • Take down expensive art
  • Have visitors sign a guest register
  • Allow visitor to leave only from one door

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you through the process of selling your home.

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