Spring is a wonderful time to sell your house. The sun is out. Flowers are blooming. And especially this spring, people are ready to do something other than stay at home. Smart sellers are preparing to put their houses on the market. If you want your house to stand out from the others, here are some tips.
Walk around your house and imagine someone else had been living there showering in your shower, eating in your dining room, cooking in your kitchen. What if that hair in the sink wasn’t yours? That dust on the table wasn’t yours? That grease on the range wasn’t yours? Other people’s dirt is gross. If you want people to see your house as one that could be theirs, make sure you do a deep clean. Remove spiderwebs from hard-to-reach spaces. Clean the grout between the tiles. Move the chairs and vacuum all the way under the table.
If your house is full of stuff—knickknacks perched on every available shelf, clothes crammed in all the closets, furniture filling every room—homebuyers will see a cramped house. They’ll wonder how on Earth their stuff will fit. If, on the other hand, you have empty shelves, room in your closets, and wide-open spaces in several rooms, they’ll be able to imagine their belongings filling the space beautifully. A good rule of thumb is to remove about a third of your furniture and a third of everything in your closets.
For potential homebuyers to see themselves in your house, make it as neutral as possible. If you have a bright purple accent wall, paint it white, cream, or gray. If you have a provocative piece of art, put it away. If your child has plastered their walls with posters of their favorite Pokémon, take them down.
Painting and replacing old flooring and/or appliances can make your house seem much newer and in better repair. If you can afford it, do it.
If you house smells like fast food, wet dog, or some other unpleasant odor, homebuyers generally don’t respond well. To avoid this, open windows to air things out. Then, consider adding a pleasant smell by baking cookies, burning fragrant candles, or dropping one drop of vanilla extract on select lightbulbs throughout the house before a scheduled showing.
Once the inside of your house is ready for visitors, head outside and check the curb appeal. Try to create a picture-perfect image of the property, one without trash cans prominently featured on the side of the driveway, leaves cluttering the lawn, or children’s bikes strewn across the walkway. Be sure to wind up hoses, mow the lawn, and place some colorful potted plants next to the front door. If you’re wondering how much work you need to do, imagine you’re about to meet your significant other’s parents for the first time. Would you renovate your house? No, but you would clean and straighten things, maybe hide any clutter out of sight.
Finally, be sure to lock up or remove any valuables. This is good for you and everyone with access to your house, because if valuables go missing, all sorts of accusations can ensue. And find another house where your darling dog can stay for a while. Even if you have the sweetest dog in the world, dogs distract from the business at hand—showing off the property.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.