How to Get Your House Ready to Sell

Looking for a new house can be a fun and exciting experience. Less fun and exciting is selling your existing home. It’s a series of the show and tell, and while your realtor will take care of the telling part, it’s largely on you to make sure your home is going to show well to potential buyers. You want the people who come tromping through your open house to be duly impressed and enchanted, and for someone to make an offer as soon as possible.

For this reason, getting your house ready to sell is a lesson in perfectionism. Every detail needs to be just right. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, time, and possibly, money. But the effort and money you spend on getting your house ready for sale will come back to you. Even just overall cleanliness can be the difference between a quick sale at asking price or your home sitting on the market for weeks and weeks with no offers.

My wife and I recently sold our first home and are moving to the ‘burbs in a couple weeks. Using the tips below, which I learned from our realtor and stager, helped our house sell during its first weekend on the market. Success! There were obviously other factors at play (location, decorating/paint colors, etc.), but there are some things that every homeowner can do to increase their odds of selling fast and for what you’re asking.

The Exterior

The exterior matters. A lot. The first impression makes a huge difference. You want your house to look great from the second a potential buyer pulls up to the curb.

Landscaping

How your landscaping looks goes a long way towards giving a good first impression. It’s going to be what people first see, after all. Keep the lawn mowed and manicured (and do your darndest to keep it green), remove all dead plants, get the trees trimmed if necessary, etc. If you have landscape lighting, be sure it all works and that bulbs are fresh.

In the winter, or early spring/late fall, this becomes easier because things are naturally dying. If everyone’s yard and landscaping looks brown, including yours, there’s just nothing you can do about it. Snow is even better because it covers everything up and makes it all look nice and purty.

Exterior Cleanliness

While the exterior of your home will obviously be a little dirty and grimey, do your best to clean it up. Get rid of bird’s nests, clean dirt clumps off the exterior, nail down any loose boards (if you have wood siding), ensure the gutters are free and clear of debris, and keep the walkways/patios freshly swept.

If it’s snowy season when your house is for sale, be sure that you shovel/snow blow any exterior concrete surface: driveway, patio, porch, sidewalk, etc. You don’t want a prospective buyer slipping and falling on the ice. That’ll seem like a bad omen.

The Entry   

Give your door a good scrub down, and possibly a fresh coat of paint. Replace the hardware if it’s beat up. Also, get new mats for both outside and inside the door if yours are worn.

Windows 

Here’s a pro tip: take the screens off all your windows. It makes them appear much cleaner from both outside and inside the house.

After you’ve done that, give the windows a good scrubbing, both inside and out. Of course, you can always hire this job out if you’d rather not do it yourself.

Also, be sure to clean out window wells if you have a basement. They’re often home to excess leaves/weeds and cobwebs. Clean them out as best you can.

Garage

I’m including the garage in this exterior section because it functions basically as such. There’s no decorating or painting in the garage so you don’t have to worry about how it looks from a design standpoint. Just be sure your tools, Christmas boxes, and other garage knickknacks are organized. That could mean DIY shelving and pegboard, or simply ensuring your piles are nice and neat. Also, keep the floor freshly swept.

If it’s a 2- or 3-car garage, but one stall is used for storage, get that stuff out of there and into a storage unit. Buyers need to see the full capability of your garage.

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