So you’ve decided to sell your house. Cue the excitement—and undoubtedly some angst. And if you are a home improvement dreamer, you may also be secretly delighted that those years of binge-watching HGTV and musing about organizational ideas are about to pay off!
Preparing your house for the onslaught of real estate agents, buyers and inspectors can be a daunting responsibility. However, fixating on every square inch of your house is not only an impossible task, but will also drive you mad. Instead, keep your sanity in check with this handy checklist.
Rediscover Your Space
Whether you’ve nested in an 800- or 8,000-square-foot home, show off the light. Buyers want to envision their own belongings adorning each room, and it’s your job to create a bright, blank page on which they can write their own narrative.
- Remove clutter. Consider renting a small temporary storage unit or commandeering a family member’s garage to eliminate bulky or excess furniture, off-season clothing, holiday decorations and the like. You don’t want to give the impression of cramped or limited storage. Treat this as an opportunity to purge unwanted items before you even begin the lofty packing process.
- Clean, clean, clean. Buyers want to know they are choosing a home that was cherished by its owners. Sparkling outlet covers and light switches, walls free of nicks and holes, and freshly swept porches can make all the difference. Be warned—buyers are typically interested in cabinet space, and they also love an excuse to snoop, so don’t neglect your fridge, bathroom cabinets and linen closets.
- Make it their home. Your guests may love the macaroni art from your little tyke or the cringe-worthy family portrait from the ’90s, but that’s what makes it your home, not the buyer’s new home. Store personal items so folks can see the house as the start of their next chapter.
- Employ tasteful trickery. A striped rug in your living room, floor-length curtains in the bedroom or mirrors in the hallway help spaces feel larger. Store-bought bookshelves placed in a closet give the illusion of a custom organization system. Higher-wattage light bulbs create instantly brighter spaces. Use small changes like these to make a big impact.
Welcome the Inspector
Once you secure a buyer, the home inspection is perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the process. However, you have more control than you think. Much like potential buyers, home inspectors want to traverse your house with ease. Follow this proactive approach to design a welcoming atmosphere centered on respecting the inspector’s time and skills.
- Remove clutter. This step is absolutely essential. The inspector does not want to navigate Lego forts, family pets, your great-grandmother’s one-of-a-kind lamp, or anything else that might disrupt his or her work or cause chaos.
- Disclose issues and repair documentation. Honesty is always the best policy and selling your home is no exception. The inspector will find any problem areas in your home, so make his or her job easier by disclosing any known issues up front. Also, if you’ve recently made repairs, be sure to provide proper documentation to the inspector.
- Ensure access. Efficiency is key when it comes to home inspections. Before the big day, take a walk through your home and ask yourself these questions: Are all doors unlocked? Are the attic and/or basement accessible? Do I have a ladder available, if needed? Are all appliances ready for testing (e.g., dishwasher unloaded, washer/dryer empty, no pots on stove)?
- Schedule an outing. The last thing an inspector wants is you or other family members underfoot, especially when speaking openly with potential buyers. It is recommended to leave the property an hour before the inspection.
Readying your home to be sold can be an emotional roller coaster, but it doesn’t have to be a rough ride. Remember, this is temporary. A little hard work now will yield great results. Steal a moment to imagine the long-awaited “Sold” placard adorning your “For Sale” sign. Now take a deep breath and get to work—those dust bunnies aren’t going to clean themselves.