Often the most difficult task for most people to complete, decluttering your home is the most important thing you can do before it goes on the market.
Clutter collects on shelves, countertops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements. You want as much open, clear space as possible, so extra things need to be cleared away.
Take a step back and try to see your home as a buyer will. Possibly ask a friend to help point out areas of clutter, as long as you respect their opinion. And of course, let your agent help you, too.
The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start. First, get everything off the counter. Everything. Even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage.
Homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their “stuff.” If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jam-packed, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as much “empty space” as possible.
Under the sink is very critical. Make sure this area is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any signs of water leaks that may create a concern.
Closets are great for accumulating clutter, though you may not think of it as clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes—things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a couple of months by putting them in storage because these items make your closets look too crowded.
Many people have too much furniture in certain rooms—not too much for your own personal living needs—but too much to communicate the space that a homebuyer would like to see. Go through your home and make sure there are wide spaces to walk through easily. Be sure to leave some open spaces in rooms. Ask your agent to help you with this as well.
Storage Area Clutter
Basements, garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. Clean out and clear out. These areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential and take it to a storage facility, or have a garage sale.
Your goal is for the buyer to visualize themselves in your home. So you want to de-personalize it by removing most of your personal items. A few personal items here and there are fine. But put away most family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Pack these items and get them ready to be moved to your next home.
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home. Do the same things with the doors—make sure they open and close properly, without creaking.
Smokers should move smoking to only outdoors while their home is for sale. You could also purchase an ozone machine that helps remove odors.
Pets are special, but they come with odors. You may have become used to them, but they are immediately noticeable to those with more finely tuned olfactory senses.
For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily and use plenty of baking soda. For dog owners, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.
Check all the ceilings for water stains, whether the leak is caused by plumbing or a faulty roof. Find the leak, repair it, and paint the area once resolved. Nothing irritates a buyer more than finding out – after the fact—about plumbing or roofing leaks.
Painting in general, can be your best investment when preparing your home for sale. It is relatively inexpensive compared to other updates. Choose color based on what would appeal to the widest number of buyers. You should almost always choose a white or off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner. If you choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in a fairly neutral color.
Repair or replace broken floor tiles if possible. Your goal is to have few negative impressions upon potential buyers.
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones.
Your house should always be ready and available to show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Plan every day as it you will have someone looking at the home. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place to make it easy for other agents to show your home.
When you know someone is viewing your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights—even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a “homey” impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.
If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the Multiple Listing Service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard or in a kennel. Try to keep cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on that door.
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home—even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Do not leave empty glasses in the family room. Keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or wash, dry and put them into the cabinet. Try your best to have your home look like a model home.